Anne Lister’s portrait | Calderdale Cultural Services | 17055
The life of Anne Lister is being dramatised by the BBC and HBO networks.
Anne Lister was born on 3rd April, 1791 and was educated at home, in Ripon and in York. She lived in the 15th century Shibden Hall near Halifax, Yorkshire, now a listed property.
In 1806 she began a diary of her life, which she wrote in code using zodiac signs, punctuation marks and mathematical symbols; the diary, which amounts to more than four million words, detailed her social and sexual life as well as local events during her life and provides a unique insight into life in the district during the late Georgian and early Victorian periods.
She was privileged to be a wealthy land owner who could afford to go travelling and mountain climbing.
Her neighbours called her “Gentleman Jack” while her lovers called her Fred.
She died in 1840 aged 49 from a fever which she caught from an insect sting while travelling in Russia with her partner Ann Walker. The pair even got married, but it was not legally recognised.
Her diaries were decrypted after she died by relatives, who had the diaries – number of quarto volumes – hidden behind a panel in Shibden Hall, and they were rediscovered in the 1980s and published as “Anne Lister’s Secret Diaries for 1817”. The diaries were added to the register UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.