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I had a chance to watch the film The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (picture above) after reading about her and her diaries that kept her secret life as an unforgiving proud lesbian. You all will come to know that I do enjoy history but I enjoy history more knowing the secrets and hidden truths that are found and preserved by brave people. From the article:
We climb the stairs to a small room on the first floor, where a wall swings forward to expose empty wooden shelves. “There,” he says, gesturing proudly at the bare shelves. “That’s where they were.”It might look like an empty cupboard, but this is a very important empty cupboard. Anne’s descendant John Lister rediscovered her diaries in the late 19th century and managed to transcribe some of the coded portions. A scandalized friend urged him to destroy the volumes, and fearing his own reputation would be destroyed by the hint of a hereditary taint of homosexuality, John agreed not to make the diaries public. But, as a keen antiquarian, he could not bring himself to destroy documents of such historical significance. Instead, he hid them away behind the wall in his library to await a time when Anne Lister’s life would be celebrated, rather than condemned.
What is remarkable about the movie is how I can imagine how bold it was for her to kiss the woman she loved with the consequences of being caught hanging over her and her lover’s heads. I can never imagine being ostracized even today for such a public act, or even worse, imprisoned for being speculated to have had homosexual relations with the same sex. For that reason I appreciate findings such as this one because it shows just how far the world has come with issues too strange to consider.
Source: United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO
This Unique set of diaries (1806-1840) which run to four million words were written by Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Halifax, West Yorkshire (1791-1840) a remarkable landowner, business woman, intrepid traveller, mountaineer and lesbian.
The diaries include a wealth of information about politics, business, estate management, religion, education and reading, science, medicine, travel, and local and national events, as this important area of Yorkshire experienced the rapid effects of the Industrial Revolution, seen from the viewpoint of an extremely well-educated and pioneering. It is her comprehensive and painfully honest account of lesbian life and reflections on her nature, however, which have made these diaries unique. They have shaped and continue to shape the direction of UK Gender Studies and Women’s History.