Anne Lister

Amazing Anne

Anne Lister

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 and 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, becoming 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 which she maintained almost daily throughout the rest of her life. She devised a code whereby she could record her innermost thoughts without fear of discovery, thus enabling her to write down her intimate feelings towards women.

One of Anne's greatest passions was travel. She lived in Paris for an eighteenth month spell and travelled to Italy, Belgium, Denmark and the Pyrenees.

In 1839, Anne began what was to become her final journey when she embarked on a trip 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 and she was interred in Halifax Parish Church on the 29th April 1841.

In 2010 she was the subject of a film and documentary which were shown by the BBC.

Materials relating to Anne Lister can be found in the Reference Department of the Central Library, Halifax. Simply enter the term Anne Lister as a 'quick search' term in the Online library catalogue . Anne's diaries are available at the Calderdale Archives, located in the Central Library.

If you are a Calderdale library member, or using a Calderdale library, why not find out about other historical figures, by searching the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography .

Simply enter a person's name or a place in the search box. (Note that a search for Halifax is best expressed as Halifax, Yorkshire.) If the 'Library Card Login' box appears, simply enter the word calderdale, followed by your library card number (without the R).