24 Facts About Anne Lister


Anne Lister was an English diarist, famous for revelations for which she was dubbed "the first modern lesbian".


Anne Lister's diaries reveal much about contemporary life in West Yorkshire, including her development of historic Shibden Hall, and her interests in landscaping, mining, railways, and canals.


Anne Lister was the second child and eldest daughter of Captain Jeremy Lister who, as a young man in 1775, served with the British 10th Regiment of Foot in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in the American War of Independence.


Between 1801 and 1804, Anne Lister was educated at home by the Reverend George Skelding, the vicar of Market Weighton.


In 1804, Anne Lister was sent to the Manor House School in York, where Anne met her first love, Eliza Raine.


Anne Lister inherited the Shibden estate on her uncle's death in 1826, but only controlled part of its income until both her father's and her aunt's deaths in 1836, when their shares of the income passed to her.


Anne Lister's wealth allowed her some measure of freedom to live as she pleased.


Anne Lister used the income from this varied portfolio to finance her two passions, the renovation of Shibden Hall, and European travel.


Anne Lister dressed entirely in black and took part in many activities that were not perceived as the norm for women of the time, such as opening and owning a colliery.


Anne Lister was referred to as "Gentleman Jack" in some quarters.


Lawton and Anne Lister were lovers for about two decades, including a period during which Lawton was married and to which her husband became resigned.


Anne Lister renovated Shibden Hall quite significantly to her own design.


Anne Lister had a tunnel dug under the building which allowed the staff to move about without disturbing her.


Anne Lister greatly enjoyed travel, although her biographer Angela Steidele suggests her trips in later life were a way to "evade the self realisation that she had failed at everything she set her hand to".


Anne Lister made her first trip to continental Europe in 1819, when she was 28 years old.


Anne Lister travelled with her 54-year-old aunt, called Anne Lister, on a two-month trip to France.


Anne Lister died on 22 September 1840, aged 49, of a fever at Koutais while travelling with Ann Walker.


Walker had Anne Lister's body brought back to the UK, where she was buried in Halifax Minster, on 29 April 1841.


Anne Lister's tombstone was rediscovered in 2000, having been covered by a floor in 1879.


Anne Lister died in 1854 at her childhood home, Cliff Hill in Lightcliffe, West Yorkshire.


In 2011, Anne Lister's diaries were added to the register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.


Anne Lister's diaries have been described as part of a "trilogy of early 19th century diaries" by local women, covering the same period from different perspectives, along with those of Caroline Walker from 1812 to 1830, and Elizabeth Wadsworth from 1817 to 1829.


On 31 May 2010, BBC Two broadcast a production based on Lister's life, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, starring Maxine Peake as Lister.


In 2018, a blue plaque was unveiled at Holy Trinity Church in York to honour Anne Lister; it was York's first LGBT history plaque.