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Jill Liddington: Female Fortune: The Anne Lister Diaries, 1833–36


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A unique and thrilling insight into the brilliant mind of Anne Lister’ 
Sally Wainwrightcreator of Gentleman Jack

Female Fortune is the book which inspired Sally Wainwright to write Gentleman Jack, now a major drama series for the BBC and HBO.

Lesbian landowner Anne Lister inherited Shibden Hall in 1826. She was an impressive scholar, fearless traveller and successful businesswoman, even developing her own coalmines. Her extraordinary diaries, running to 4-5 million words, were partly written in her own secret code and recorded her love affairs with startling candour.

Jill Liddington’s classic edition of the diaries tells the story of how Anne Lister wooed and seduced neighbouring heiress Ann Walker, who moved in to live with Anne and her family in 1834. Politically active, Anne Lister door-stepped her tenants at the 1835 Election to vote Tory. And socially very ambitious, she employed architects to redesign both the Hall and the estate.

Yet Ann Walker had an inconvenient number of local relatives, suspicious of exactly how Anne Lister could pay for all her grand improvements. Tensions grew to a melodramatic crescendo when news reached Shibden of the pair being burnt in effigy.

This 2022 edition includes a fascinating Afterword on the recent discovery of Ann Walker’s own diary. Female Fortune is essential reading for those who watched Gentleman Jack and want to know more about the extraordinary woman that was Anne Lister.

Jill Liddington is the author whose book, Female Fortune: the Anne Lister Diaries 1833-36, inspired scriptwriter Sally Wainwright to write the epic drama series Gentleman Jack (2019, BBC1 & HBO). Female Fortune, first published in 1998 (Rivers Oram Press), was reprinted in 2010 & 2018, with a new second edition in 2019. Dr Jill Liddington, Honorary Research Fellow at Leeds University, is a feminist historian. Her first book, One Hand Tied Behind Us (1978, 2000) quickly became a suffrage classic. The Long Road to Greenham won the Fawcett Book Prize in 1990. Her latest book is As Good as a Mariage: The Anne Liste Diaries, 1836–38.


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