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The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  190 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Anne Lister defied the role of womanhood seen in the novels of Jane Austen: she was bold, fiercely independent, a landowner, industrialist, traveler, and a lesbian. She kept extensive diaries of her life and loves, written partly in code. Made up of Greek letters mingled with other symbols of her own devising, Anne referred to the code as her "crypthand," and the use of it ...more
Paperback, 422 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Virago (first published October 21st 2010)
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Lord Beardsley
I first found out about Anne Lister when I saw ads on the BBC a while back for a TV adaptation of her story. I'm very interested in the lives of queer people throughout history, so I was naturally quite interested to find out more about her. Sarah Waters (long a favorite of mine) also had some words to say about Anne Lister's life, so that definitely helped pique my curiosity.

I found this book very interesting, and something I could just sit back and take in. For a lot of people, it's bound to b
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer (JC-S) by:
Shelves: librarybooks
‘I owe a great deal to this diary’.

Anne Lister (3 April 1791 - 22/9/1840) was a member of a family of prominent land owners: the Listers of Shibden Hall in Halifax (West Yorkshire, UK). In 1813, when her surviving brother accidentally drowned, Anne became heir to Shibden Hall. During her lifetime, Anne kept a diary which runs to some four million words. Thanks to this diary, we have access to a lot of detail about Anne's life: her sexual and emotional relationships with women; the minutiae of up
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I came to learn of Anne Lister through the BBC's version of her diaries. I thought that she sounded very interesting and wanted to know more about her. So after buying this book, I looked forward to it hoping it would be just as good.

Sadly I was disappointed. The time that the book covers doesn't include her later life when she found Miss Walker. Though she writes about the women who were in her life such as Marina and Miss Browne, you don't hear much about Miss Walker.

This book just didn't
Non-fiction collection of diary entries. Anne Lister, daughter and heiress of landed gentry in early nineteenth century England, kept journals all her life. Along with the entries about her day-to-day doings, her opinions of her neighbours, and the progress of her studies, there were coded sections in a cipher of her own invention. Under the freedom of the cipher she wrote about everything: most notably her lesbian affairs and heartbreaks, but also her neuroses about clothing (seriously she uses ...more
I first heard of Anne Lister a year ago when the BBC did a documentary and a dramatisation about her life. This book is extracts from her diary with commentary by the editor giving additional details of what is happening in Anne's life at that time. The diary itself is a mixture of dry and dull preceedings with heartfelt and heartbreaking discussions about the women in her life and their strengths and failings. It is wonderful as so much of queer women's history is often dismissed as being "emot ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting. Good commentary, but I wish it covered a longer period of her life (she wrote her diaries for much longer than the years that are covered in this book). It's weird, reading someone's diary. It feels like someone you know now. I got a bit low over the fact that the part of her life that was covered in this volume was so dull and fruitless. For a woman of that class, without enough money, life was, basically, shit. It was perhaps better for those she termed "vulgar" and to "low" for h ...more
Tara Calaby
The focus for this collection of Anne Lister's diaries is her lesbian sexuality, as is strongly hinted at by the fact that the cover blurb quotes are from Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Jeannette Winterson ;) For me, however, her teenage-like mooning over M got quite annoying quite quickly. Luckily, the diaries are fantastic as glimpses into life at the beginning of the 19th century. A fun contrast to Austen, with all the lesbian affairs and venereal diseases that didn't make it into Pride & ...more
Sharon Ludbrook
Feb 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Living in Halifax I love this book what a read about the area I live Also Helena Whitbread was a teacher of mine so even more so

It just proves even in the 1800's a strong woman can pull through although her attitude to people less fortunate than herself was a bit up her self
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating diary, both for its detail of daily life in the period, and for its frank descriptions of Anne's lesbian relationships and how they were perceived by those around her.
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Slow going, and I didn't love it. Pretty boring actually. Hard to like Anne, therefore hard to care about what she does next.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
So boring I couldn't finish it...
Rachael Eyre
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Like most other readers, I first encountered Anne Lister via the TV drama starring Maxine Peake. I tracked down a copy of the book but it was decidedly dog eared - I was relieved to find it on the Kindle.

Like the drama, the diaries are a bit of a jumble. Anne doesn't come across as particularly likeable - she sets far too much store by social class and etiquette, on occasion being ashamed of her own family. Seeing as she is a contemporary of Jane Austen, this obsession seems to have been univers
Natasha (Diarist) Holme
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lesbians, historians
Recommended to Natasha (Diarist) by: My lesbian tutor
Anne Lister was a pretty much 'out' lesbian who lived two hundred years ago and who recorded her love affairs in numerous encoded diaries. Wow.

These diaries were first mentioned to me in 1989 (then entitled 'I Know My Own Heart') by a lesbian tutor of mine at University when she discovered that I kept my own encoded diaries. I was thrilled that such a book could exist and ordered it immediately. There was hardly any lesbian reading matter around at that time, so I was utterly gripped.

I re-read t
Gemma Smith
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had been really excited to read this book after watching a documentary on Anne Lister and her diaries. It was probably because of how excellent the documentary was at pinpointing the exciting extracts and times of her life, that I found myself a bit bored reading her actual words. Although it was interesting to gain an insight into the everyday life of a person in the 1800s, at times this made it a little dull.

Her relationships with other women (friends, lovers and potential lovers) were fasc
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, read-2012
Parts of this book were very interesting and this is undoubtedly a very important piece of lesbian history but I did sometimes get bored of all the day to day stuff about what she bought, ate, where she walked to etc so it took me a while to plough through.

Anne Lister was way ahead of her time and seemingly not afraid of her feelings for other women or apologetic. In fact she was so sure of herself that if she took a fancy to someone she would believe absolutely that they would be hers. For her
Ruby Noise
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was taken by the mystic of how these diaries were found and finally bought to the light of day. Intriguing enough Miss Lister was living in the early 1800's and educated herself, dressed how she thought right, managed her own affairs and was financially stable, thanks mostly to family money. She chose to have women as her partners and kept a diary, some in code, to make sense of her thoughts and timelines. I wonder how she would feel now, knowing others a prying into her world?
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Overall I find the book interesting because I don’t really into a diary or autobiography kind of books. I am so grateful that Helena Whitbread spending years of her life to edit Miss Anne Lister Diaries.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wonderful to read about such a hidden part of history, to know how it would've been in another time.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-cdf
I miss her already.
Katherine Olivia
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
best book ever 10/10 better than shakespeare
May 16, 2012 marked it as to-read
I like this but am not in the mood for it. Back it goes to the library until I'm feeling like reading it.
Imen Stitches
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Interesting...but I didn't like the "diary entry" format.
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Anne Lister (1791–1840) was a well-off Yorkshire landowner, diarist and traveller. Throughout her life she kept diaries which chronicled the details of her everyday life, including her lesbian relationships, her financial concerns, her industrial activities and her work improving Shibden Hall. Her diaries contain more than 4,000,000 words and about a sixth of them—those concerning the intimate det ...more
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“I am very low. The tears gush as I write but, thank God, I generally feel relief from thus unburdening my mind on paper... Oh, how my heart longs after a companion & how I often wish for an establishment of my own, but I
may then be too old to attach anyone & my life shall have passed in that dreary solitude I so ill endure.”
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