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Anne Lister (3 April 1791 – 22 September 1840) was an English diarist, famous for revelations for which she was dubbed "the first modern lesbian".
Lister was from a minor landowning family at Shibden in Calderdale, West Riding of Yorkshire, and conducted multiple lesbian affairs from her schooldays onwards, often on long trips abroad. Muscular and masculine in appearance, dressed only in black, and highly educated, she was later known, generally unkindly, as "Gentleman Jack". Her final significant relationship was with Ann Walker, to whom she was notionally married in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York, now celebrated as the birthplace of lesbian marriage in Britain.
Lister's diaries reveal much about contemporary life in West Yorkshire, including her development of historic Shibden Hall, and her interests in landscaping, mining, railways, and canals. Many entries were written in code that was not decrypted until long after her death. These graphic portrayals of lesbianism were so frank that they were thought to be a hoax until their authenticity was confirmed.
The mission of the Anne Lister Society is to foster knowledge of Lister’s extraordinary life and writings and to interpret and champion her legacy. The Society seeks to nourish conversations among scholars and to build conversations between scholars and Lister’s wider readership and her expanding network of invested fans. It also aims to develop ongoing collaborations (including scholarly editing and grant-writing) to fortify the vast archive she left behind. By encouraging research and greater understanding of her way of inhabiting the world, the Society aims to establish and sustain Anne Lister’s place – in the cultural tradition and for the future.
Packed With Potential is a global community of people who share an interest in exploring the lives of Anne Lister and those in her circle with historical context through open, collaborative, and accessible research.
Our mission is to promote greater understanding of Anne Lister and her contemporaries, and elevate their legacies. We share knowledge openly as we discover more about the people and events in Anne Lister’s life, to explore with and learn from each other.
This site is a a hub for individuals to read, reference, contribute to and/or publish findings, and connect with others. Get involved today!
We are a growing collaborative group of people, interested in bringing to light details of Ann Walker’s life, some of which are buried deep in the archives. Our aim is to bring Ann Walker out of the shadows so she can act as an inspiration for others. We are also focussed on building a lasting legacy for Ann, ensuring she finds her rightful place in history.
Please have a look around to learn more about this incredible woman and see the projects we are running.