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Archive for June 10th, 2019

Anne Lister as portrayed by Suranne Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good (late) Weekend Widdershins

As I put in the comments on mb’s post, yeah, shit was just happening today.  And I’m still not far past the point of wanting to take a hammer to something (someone?).  But let’s move on.

The picture at the top is of actress Suranne Jones portraying an actual historical figure Anne Lister.  She portrays Lister in the HBO series Gentleman Jack.

One of the first things about the show that caught my attention was that Anne was from and speaks of Halifax.  I thought “Nova Scotia?” because on the show she speaks of coal.  Google, being a friend, I found out there was a Halifax England in West Yorkshire.  Checking some maps I saw it was in the northeastern part of England. Halifax is northeast of Manchester to give another reference for it.  And apparently yes at some point they mined coal there for a time.

The actual Anne Lister

As you can see above, Suranne does bear some resemblance to real Anne.  Suranne said she added the top hat on her own.

Anne Lister was born in 1791 and died 1840.  If you do the arithmetic you can see her adult period was in the 1820s or so.  And what I have found fascinating was how “out” she was at the time.

Anne was a landowner and considered the family somewhat upper class.  She had an ancestral home, Shibden Hall, built in around 1420.  The Listers owned the estate for about three hundred years.

 

 

 

Although she surely didn’t describe herself as a lesbian, she lived that lifestyle.  From the wiki:

 

Lister is described as having a “masculine appearance”; one of her lovers, Marianna Lawton (née Belcombe), was initially ashamed to be seen in public with her because her appearance was commented on. She dressed entirely in black and took part in many activities that were not perceived as the norm for gentlewomen, such as opening and owning a colliery. She was referred to as “Gentleman Jack” in some quarters. Lawton and Lister were lovers for several years, including a period during which Lawton was married and to which her husband became resigned.

On the HBO show, Anne meets and apparently falls in love with a local heiress Ann Walker.

Lister met the wealthy heiress Ann Walker in 1832. The women took communion together on Easter Sunday 1834 in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York, and thereafter considered themselves married. The church has been described as “an icon for what is interpreted as the site of the first lesbian marriage to be held in Britain”, and the building now hosts a commemorative blue plaque.  The couple lived together at Shibden Hall until Lister’s death in 1840.

Walker’s fortune was used to improve Shibden Hall and the property’s waterfall and lake. Lister renovated Shibden Hall quite significantly to her own design. In 1838, she added a Gothic tower(shown in the picture above)  to the main house, to serve as her private library. She also had a tunnel dug under the building which allowed the staff to move about without disturbing her.

What was intriguing to me about Lister were the diaries or journals that she kept.

Throughout her life, she kept diaries that chronicled the details of her daily life, including her lesbian relationships, her financial concerns, her industrial activities, and her work improving Shibden Hall. Her diaries contain more than 4 million words and about a sixth of them — those concerning the intimate details of her romantic and sexual relationships — were written in code. The code, derived from a combination of algebra and Ancient Greek, was deciphered in the 1930s. Lister is often called “the first modern lesbian” for her clear self-knowledge and openly lesbian lifestyle.

So to wrap up Pride Week, brava to Anne Lister!

 

* * * *

Sorry about the little promos in there.

Open thread, of course.

 


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