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Lesbian Historic Motif Project: #68i Whitbread 1992 I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister 1791-1840 (1824)

Full citation: 

Whitbread, Helena ed. 1992. I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister 1791-1840. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 0-8147-9249-9

Publication summary: 

Whitbread has decoded and edited the candid diaries of Anne Lister, and early 19th century member of the Yorkshire gentry who was self-consciously and exclusively lesbian in her romantic and sexual relationships.


This brings us to the end of this particular volume. Although the title indicates entries up through 1840, the substance of the material transcribed in detail only goes through 1824 with the remainder covered in a very brief synopsis of Anne's life, concluding with the circumstances of her death and excerpts from obituaries. (It may be that this was included on the possibility that this would be the only voume that saw print.) A second collection, No Priest But Love continues the detailed transcriptions and I will be including it at a later date. (I think three solid weeks of Anne Lister is probably enough for now.) Next week I'll be starting on Valerie Traub's The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England.)

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It is clear from Marianne's letters and descriptions of her activities that she has been making new friends, taking up new hobbies, and generally becoming less emotionally dependent on Anne. In the early part of the year, Anne is much concerned with managing the property she shares with her aunt and uncle, taking over more of the control. Tib comes to visit in mid January and is in poor health. In a month Anne is wishing the visit were over already and is tired of Tib's drinking and snuff-taking. There is a note in March that, during a conversation on the topic of marriage with her friend Mrs. Priestley, Anne declared that she would not marry for she had made her choice already these 15 years and it was a lady. This is an unexpected openness and she thinks Mrs Priestley was taken by surprise but they talk of it more later. As the time For Tib to leave draws near, they quarrel more often.

Anne puts some effort into mending social ties with her Halifax neighbors who complain that she snubs them, especially when encountered elsewhere such as York. But Anne is also thinking more and more of traveling. There are no mentions of the sorts of little flirtations we've seen before, though in one entry in June she is reviewing her journals and comments on the accounts of her involvement to varying degrees with Anne Belcombe, Miss Vallance, and Miss Browne.

There is a visit in July from Marianne and they are still passionate but disengaged. In late July, Anne and her aunt go on a tour of the lake district and the entries are all about travel and sights and food. And then after a brief return to Halifax in August, Anne travels to Paris in company with her maid and stays there for the rest of the year. This trip marks a major change in her life and is the end of this volume.

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