The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, Edited by Helena Whitbread

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The Independent Culture

Born in the 1790s, Anne Lister was a Yorkshire landowner, industrialist and enthusiastic lesbian whose diaries, written in complex code, were left to languish for centuries for fear of unsavoury revelations.

Transcribed by Halifax academic Helena Whitbread, they provide fascinating insights into the intimate lives of early 19th-century women.

Anne never had problems finding girlfriends, but it wasn't until she met Mariana Belcombe, the daughter of a medical practitioner, that she fell in love.

The women enjoyed an idyllic relationship until Mariana married a wealthy widower. Lister's personality shines through these entries. An Austen contemporary, she dramatically broke the romantic mould.

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