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on 1 July 2015
Bought this book as I'd seen the film and for local interest. There is far more in the book but this is not necessarily a good thing. It is extremely interesting as a historical document of the times. Miss Lister gives you the price of things she bought and comments on friends and neighbours. She was certainly a great character and her house is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

If you are looking for salacious details then there are few but there is an awful lot of social comment, attitudes of people, medical remedies etc. Fascinating but a little heavy going in places.
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on 16 August 2017
Interesting for the LBGT community, but, unfortunately, this is only a small part of an enormous diary, and the most interesting period, Anne Lister's travels in Russia and the Caucasus, is missing: we will have to wait for someone to transcribe and publish the diaries of her later period.
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on 12 December 2015
This is really a masterpiece. It is a fine account of social history in an era when sexual deviation was quite unacceptable. How fortunate that these diaries just escaped destruction. Helena Whitbread has done a fine job in editing such a mass of material.
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on 1 October 2017
Great read so interesting
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on 19 September 2017
This is a fascinating book I can't put it down. I am looking forward to the dramatisation that comes out in the BBC in 2018.
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on 2 August 2017
I adored this book and found it an intriguing glimpse into her life.
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on 5 September 2015
Even though I live near Halifax I didn't know anything about Shibden Hall or Anne Lister. even though I have an iPad I bought this in paperback as you can easily refer to the reference at the back. I devoured this book, it is any amazing insight into life for an aspiring upwardly mobile woman in that age. Her love interests make it all the more interesting as her love for the "fairer sex" was not a socially acceptable life style. A must read.
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on 18 February 2013
This book collects Anne's diaries from 1816 to 1824. During this time she lived at Shibden Hall with her unmarried aunt and uncle. Anne had a few lovers, and more infatuations, during this period. The main one was a woman who had married an older man for the security he provided, but still kept up a relationship with Anne and promised that they would be together when her husband died. It is clear that this arrangement caused Anne a lot of insecurity and unhappiness.
Anne was an independent sort of woman, in a time when such independence was unusual for women. She had clearly decided that she would never marry or be involved with men, but she did long for a partner and companion to share her life with. She was a woman who valued education and as well as learning languages and attending lectures she was an avid reader.
At times I found it hard to identify with Anne, a woman who held such different values and lived such a different life to my own. However there were times when her feelings are expressed so strongly it is difficult not to empathise with her.
I can very much understand the value of these diaries to Regency history, women's history and lesbian history. I have no particular interest in Regency England and know only bits and pieces about the period, but that didn't cause me much of a problem as this is someone writing about their life rather than their times, and the explanatory notes provided by the editor are helpful without being intrusive.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 December 2011
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 upper-class 18th century daily life; and the castes and customs of life in a provincial town.

In this book, Helena Whitbread has concentrated on the years from 1816 to 1824: this is the period during which Anne's two most significant relationships - with Mariana Lawton (nee Belcombe) and Isabella Norcliffe - developed and are chronicled in significant detail.

`I love, and only love, the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs.' - (from 29 January 1821)

In her introduction, Ms Whitbread writes that Anne Lister began her diaries in 1806, with entries becoming more detailed from 1808. But as the entries became more detailed, Anne developed a code (which she refers to as `crypthand') which gave her the freedom to describe her life in great detail. After all, no-one else would be able to understand the code, would they?

The story of how the diaries were discovered, decrypted, then hidden because of their contents and then finally partially published is fascinating. So is the content - especially (but by no means exclusively) to those interested in women's and lesbian history. Anne Lister's account of 18th century life, of the detail of routine life and of her activities and aspirations is absorbing. Some of her views and opinions would seem quite archaic to many of us today but then she never intended for us to be reading them. Now that I have read this book, I am keen to know more about Anne Lister's life. Particularly after 1826 when she became the owner of the Shibden estate.

Apparently, many of Anne's neighbours saw her as an eccentric, a bluestocking who learned Latin, Greek and Geometry and who discussed politics. Anne Lister was the first woman to be elected to the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society. The BBC has made a documentary drama about Anne Lister which I've not yet seen. If you are interested in the social history of this era, from less conventional perspective, you may enjoy reading this book. I did.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on 13 April 2017
This is a fascinating glimpse into a the personal world of someone living at around the same time as Jane Austen. The obvious added interest is that Anne Lister was a lesbian at a time when it was virtually, but perhaps not completely, impossible to be open about such things.

The blurb by Jeanette Winterson makes her seem like a heroine bucking the trend by not getting married, but I think this is mostly feminist nonsense. She didn't marry because she could afford not to. This woman whom Ms Winterson says 'took control of her body' caught venereal disease from a married lover, and If I read her account right she knowingly passed it on to another lover who was unaware of her condition.

Unlike male homosexuality, lesbianism was never illegal, and reading between the lines it seems clear that most people realised that she was either a lesbian or at least that there was clearly something, to use a modern term, very butch about her. It is also clear that this wasn't why she was relatively unpopular - even though she was socially very active and not at all shunned by society. It was because she was a rather aloof snob.

I would love to have met her, but sadly she would have considered it impertinent that someone of my class should attempt to engage her in conversation, as is clear from the many judgements she makes regarding her social inferiors and 'vulgar' people.

But she was still fascinating, and this is a great read.
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