The series has caught the eyes and the hearts of a world-wide community
Anne Lister began transcribing her life at the age of fifteen, continuing up to her untimely death at the age of 49. Not mere diaries, Miss Lister’s writings describe the everyday life of the late 18th century / early 19th century England. Her work, totally 22 volumes and over 6 million words, is considered so important that UNESCO has placed her diaries in their UK Memory of the World collection, one of only twenty such objects honoured in this regard.
Her entries did not stop with politics, science of the day, land management and local society. What makes Miss Lister’s work so compelling are her “crypt-hand” entries. Making up over twenty per cent of the content, Miss Lister used this code to describe, in detail, her emotional life. As she herself said: “I love and only love the fairer sex and thus believed by them in turn, my heart retreats from any love but theirs.” Her diaries give a full depiction of her search for love. Though she travelled great distances in her search, she finally found her life partner in Ann Walker, also of Halifax.
Members of the modern-day LGBTQ community have found her courage, resilience and full belief that God had created her exactly as He planned both inspiring and comforting. Anne Lister has become a modern-day icon through the writings of Helena Whitbread, the first to decode and publish Anne’s writings in detail, including the most intimate passages. It was Helena Whitbread’s work, followed on by Jill Liddington, that eventually inspired Sally Wainwright to present the story of Anne Lister and Ann Walker to the world in the form of Gentleman Jack.