A portrait of Anne Lister.


Was Anne Lister a pioneer feminist or "nothing but an old Tory squire"?

Hosted by the LSE Library

In-person and online public event (Wolfson Theatre, Cheng Kin Ku Building), United Kingdom


Dr Jill Liddington

Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds


Dr Paul Stock

Associate Professor Department of International History

Join us for a lecture with Jill Lidington on her latest book, As Good As A Marriage: the Anne Lister diaries 1836-38 (MUP, 2023). The talk will be followed by a Q&A & book signing.

Was Anne Lister a pioneer feminist or "nothing but an old Tory squire"? These were Virginia Woolf’s words on Vita Sackville-West. Yet were they similarly appropriate for Anne Lister of Shibden Hall 1791-1840?

Anne and her magnificent diaries came to popular attention with Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack tv drama (BBC1 & HBO, 2019 & 2022).

Sally was inspired to write Gentleman Jack by reading Jill Liddington’s Female Fortune: the Anne Lister diaries 1833-36 (MUP). Anne, who inherited Shibden Hall, was a woman of extraordinary achievements: travel and mountaineering, social networking, and intellectual range. But her outstanding achievement was undoubtedly her five-million-word diaries, recognized in 2011 by UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World register.

About one-sixth of the diaries were written in Anne’s secret code, documenting in vivid and intimate detail her romantic & sexual affairs with other women. By 1832 Anne, betrayed by other women’s conventional marriage plans, wanted a life partner – and set about wooing and eventually marrying Ann Walker, neighbouring heiress. Shy Ann came to live at Shibden with the Listers in 1834 and Anne, now with access to Ann’s income stream, could develop her plans to enhance Shibden. Though of course, she had no vote herself, Anne was extremely active politically at elections, doorstepping her tenants in the ‘Blue’ (ie, Tory) interests.

So the question remains, pioneer feminist or ‘old Tory squire’? Join the event to find out!

Dr Jill Liddington is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.

Dr Paul Stock is an Associate Professor Department of International History.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science (@LSELibrary) was founded in 1896, a year after the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has been based in the Lionel Robbins Building since 1978 and houses many world class collections, including the Women's Library and Hall-Carpenter Archives.


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