Saturday 13 February 2010

The LGBT History Series (13) - The first modern lesbian

Anne Lister (1791-1840) was an openly lesbian, member of the Yorkshire landed gentry.

Quotes from her diary include "I love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs." and "Yet my manners are certainly peculiar, not all masculine but rather softly gentleman-like. I know how to please girls." (translated by Olive Anderson for the History Workshop Journal in 1995. Lister was credited with astonishing self-awareness and independent spirit for a woman of her standing and situation.

Picture by Joshua Horner, Copyright expired.

Her diary reveals that she liked to be called 'Fred' or 'Gentleman Jack' by her lovers, one of which included a wealthy local heiress, Ann Walker. Their affair and eventual marriage was moulded into local folklore and fireside tales.

If this has whetted your appetite for Lister-y lesbian loving, then you'll be happy to hear that any day now, BBC 2 is airing a 90-minute drama/biopic called 'The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister', with Maxine Peake in the title role. More info here

Thanks to Sandra for the heads-up!