by Jill Liddington
Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax 1791-1840
tells the dramatic story of how Anne's diaries survived after her death in the remote Caucasus.
Nearly 150 years later, in 1984, a Guardian article 'The two million word enigma' alerted readers to Anne's extensive diaries. Then in 1988 Helena Whitbread's I Know My Own Heart made the diaries accessible at last to a much wider readership, establishing beyond a scintilla of doubt Anne's lesbianism.
Her curiosity aroused, Jill Liddington decided to check the diaries' word-count in the Archives at Halifax. To her horror, she discovered they ran to a total of four million words - that is, about three times longer than Samuel Pepys's diary. Of this, roughly one-sixth is written in Anne's secret code, recording her relationships with other women.