Born in 1791, Anne Lister became one of the most interesting women of the nineteenth century.
Her father, Jeremy, served as a captain in the American War of Independence. He was wounded at the Battle of Lexington. Anne had four brothers and two sisters. When her youngest brother died in 1813 as a result of a boating accident, Anne inherited property at Shibden Hall.
Anne took up residence with her uncle James and aunt Anne in 1815. She was very fond of exercise: her hobbies included walking, riding and shooting. Anne also played the flute. However, her masculine appearance and sometimes eccentric behaviour earned her the nickname of "Gentleman Jack."
Management of the Shibden Hall estate proved an easy task for Anne. She supervised building work, dealt with the business of farming and developed coal mining on her land. Anne joined in all local cultural and intellectual activities. She became the first woman elected to the committee of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society. Education and schools were also important to her.
When Anne left school she began to keep a diary. She made entries in this almost daily for the rest of her life. She devised a code to record her thoughts, without fear of discovery. This meant that she could write down her intimate feelings towards women.
One of Anne's greatest passions was travel. She lived in Paris for 18 months and travelled to Italy, Belgium, Denmark and the Pyrenees.
In 1839, Anne began what would be her final journey, when she went to Russia with her friend Ann Walker. The following year, Anne contracted a fever which ultimately led to her death. Her body was taken to Moscow for burial, but later her remains were brought back to England. She was then laid to rest in Halifax Parish church on the 29th April 1841.
In 2010, she was the subject of a film and documentary that were shown by the BBC.
Material on Anne Lister can be found in the Reference Department of the Central Library, Halifax. Enter "Anne Lister" as a 'quick search' term in the:
Anne's diaries are available at the Calderdale Archives, in the Central Library.
Are you a Calderdale library member, or using a Calderdale library? Why not search for and find out about other historical figures? Visit: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Enter a person's name or a place in the search box. Note: A search for Halifax is best put in as "Halifax, Yorkshire".
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