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  • Hello lovely people!

  • If youre new here, hi, I’m Jessica, I make a range of videos about LGBTQ+ things,

  • disability things, vintage fashion thingsand profiles of historical people who are

  • disabled or gay or both! … or a Tudor. Because I have lots of feelings about the Tudors.

  • Please do subscribe if that sounds like the kind of thing you are into and if you’d like to support

  • the channel and keep me making videos do consider becoming a member of the Kellgren-Fozard Club

  • by clicking the join button below and signing up.

  • Today’s historical profile is very exciting because I’m profiling Anne Lister:

  • the first ever lesbian!

  • Okay, she wasn’t. But she WAS probably the one who talked about it the most.

  • During her life, Anne wrote a four-million-word diary and she dedicated about 700,000 words

  • to her lesbianism!

  • Born in 1791, Anne was an openly butch English landowner, diarist, mountaineer, and traveller

  • from Yorkshire. She’s often called the "the first modern lesbian" for her clear self-knowledge

  • and openly lesbian lifestyle. Despite suffering harassment for her sexuality she was called

  • "Gentleman Jack" by local residents.

  • Now a new BBC/HBO series about her has been made telling her true story and it’s a series

  • the creator doesn’t think could have been made at any other time. The pitch was shot

  • down in 2002 because

  • Because: Gay.

  • - Available in my shop again from today, check the merch link in the description.

  • But the times they are a changing and if weve learnt anything from Killing Eve it’s that

  • the internet loves to gif some girl love. Of course there are always some people...

  • [cough] fools

  • who think theyre allowed to have some kind of a say in two

  • consenting adults who are happily in love.

  • But for this video were going to ignore them and just enjoy clips of Suranne Jones

  • as Anne Lister being awesome while I treat you to some fun history.

  • - do note that Gentleman Jack premiered on 22nd April on HBO in America and will be out

  • on BBC One on the 19th May in the UK so you may already be able to watch it, I’ve seen

  • the first episode and I’m not kidding, she really is awesome.

  • Also Anne’s endless optimism in the face of adversity was one of her defining character

  • traits and let’s be honest, ‘relentless optimismis my brand so I’m very clearly

  • already on board.

  • Anne was the second child and eldest daughter of Jeremy Lister who in 1775 served with the

  • British Army in the American War of Independence. Ten years later he married Rebecca Battle

  • and their first child, John, was born in 1789 but died the same year. Anne was born two

  • years later and was followed by another four children. Although the Listers had six children

  • only Anne and her younger sister Marian survived past 20 years old.

  • Anne was first educated at home then sent away to school at the age of seven. At the

  • age of 13 she was sent to the Manor House School in Yorkand that’s when things

  • start to get interesting!

  • It was there she met her first love, Eliza Raine, who was the incredibly rich daughter

  • of a surgeon in the East India Company and had only just been brought back to England

  • after his death. The girls shared a room andwell, let’s just say that Anne was asked

  • to leave and wasn’t allowed back until Eliza had left!

  • Poor Eliza really got the short end of the stick however as she expected to live with

  • Anne as an adult and that they would be together forever. Sadly, in her absence, Anne began

  • affairs with two other girls, Isabella Norcliffe and Mariana Belcombe- whose father ran an

  • asylum that Eliza was then sent to in the pit of her lesbian depression.

  • To be fair though, women were treated pretty badly at the time so it may have been just

  • generalised depression

  • Anne had an unfortunate habit of sending her lady lovers to Dr Belcombe’s

  • asylum! And there were MANY lady lovers.

  • Many

  • One thing Eliza did have going for her was that she inspired Anne’s love of writing

  • prolific diaries. As I told you earlier, during her life Anne wrote a four-million-word diary.

  • It had begun in 1806 as scraps of paper in secret code parcels sent to and from Eliza

  • Raine but went on to become the 26 Quarto volumes, ending at her death in 1840.

  • About a sixth of the words in the diary-

  • - mainly those concerning the intimate details of her romantic and sexual relationships-

  • were written in code because-

  • 1800s.

  • The code she and Eliza developed was derived from a combination of algebra, zodiac, puctuation

  • and Ancient Greek. Anne also had really bad handwritting so that probably helped(!)

  • She wrote about the women she had crushes on, the women she fell in love with, her feelings

  • about gender and gender presentation andlots and lots of sex.

  • Good sex, bad sex, what,

  • when, where, howwhy?

  • And of course, her seduction tips

  • It was pretty darn gay.

  • Although the diaries do also contain her thoughts on the weather, social events, national events,

  • and her business interests so it’s an interesting social history of the time as well.

  • At the age of 35 she took over management of her aunt’s property, Shibden Hall, and

  • inherited it ten years later. She drew a good income from the property and lands, along

  • with a varied financial portfolio she had built that included properties in town, shares

  • in the canal and railway industries, mining, and stone quarries.

  • Alright, are you gonna sit there huh?

  • Okay...

  • Her wealth allowed her a measure of freedom to live as she pleased. See, they say money

  • doesn’t buy happinessbut guess it gives you a better shot at it!

  • Her two great passions were European travel and developing Shibden Hall which, again:

  • money. It’s nice.

  • By far the most important thing to her that she talks often about in her diaries was the

  • ability to live as she pleased and be who she really wanted to be. Locals referred to

  • her asGentleman Jackand she loved it. She was described as having a “masculine

  • appearanceto the extent that one of her lovers, Marianna Lawton (née Belcombe)- the

  • daughter of the asylum guy who collected Anne’s conquests- was noted as being initially ashamed

  • to be seen in public with her. She dressed entirely in black and took part in many activities

  • that were not thenormfor gentlewomen, such as

  • To be fair, anything other than looking pretty, keeping her mouth shut and having lots and

  • lots of babies.

  • Clearly Marianna didn’t mind that much though as she called AnneFredand the two

  • of them were lovers for several years,

  • Exit dog.

  • including after Marianna got married. But that was with

  • the permission of her husband who obviously didn’t think that being with a woman was

  • cheating which… I’m annoyed about for obvious reasons.

  • [harp music] After all: if lesbianism doesn’t mean anything

  • am I still an unmarried virgin…?

  • And if it doesn’t:

  • why are conservative politicians so mad about it…?

  • But I’m also firmly in theyaycamp for historical lesbianism!

  • Most of the women Anne seduced she considered to bestraightbut clearly they were

  • very happy to jump into bed with her! Her diaries detail going to visit other families

  • in the country for long weekendsand then seducing all of the women in the house.

  • She was a rake.

  • Or, in more modern terms: an ‘f-boy

  • [bell sfx]

  • Anne wrote in her diaries about how uncomfortable she was with women’s clothing, choosing

  • to wear all black men’s clothes instead, and about how even the thought of menstruation

  • was too much for her. She says she didn’t want to be consideredtoo much a woman

  • by her lovers and there has been speculation about whether or not Lister was transgender.

  • But-

  • I normally say when were studying historical gay figures that we can’t know for sure

  • whether they were truly gay because it’s not a firsthand account

  • But this is. Gentleman Jack is entirely Anne’s own words. These are her raw feelings, her

  • honest point of view- it isn’t just speculation.

  • Yet, can we wade into a debate on whether Anne was a very butch lesbian or a transman

  • when she didn’t have the language or awareness of gender studies herself to decide?

  • There’s no real way to decipher and thus we must take Lister for the person she presented

  • to her diary:

  • A rake.

  • [bell sfx]

  • In 1832 Anne met wealthy heiress Ann Walker-

  • Yes, they have the same first name, yes this is about to get confusing.

  • On Easter Sunday 1834 in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York, Anne and Ann took communion

  • together and thereafter considered themselves married! The church is even recognised with

  • a blue plaque-

  • - That’s how we mark the special old buildings from the regular old buildings in England.

  • Trust me, our concept ofoldis a bit screwy according to Americans- I was brought

  • up in a house built in the 1700s and that’s not particularly novel.

  • The church is now considered an icon as the site of what is interpreted to be the first

  • lesbian marriage to be held in Britain.

  • and were totally going to skate over the fact Anne had already had a marriage ceremony

  • with Mariana in 1821so

  • New Ann was the important one, okay?!

  • Their relationship was one of local repute asAnn without the ‘e’’’s fortune

  • was used to improve Shibden Hall and the property's waterfall and lake. In 1838 Original Anne

  • added a Gothic tower to the main house, to serve as her private Beauty and the Beast

  • style library. And let’s be honest, we all want one of those! She also had a tunnel dug

  • under the building which allowed the staff to move about without disturbing her or

  • seeing any sapphic excitement they weren’t supposed to.

  • Ann without the ‘e’’ also used her fortune for the couple’s grand travel plans

  • and expeditions. Like all good lesbian stereotypes they enjoyed a good hike

  • - is that a stereotype or is it true?

  • I personally love hikes, I just can’t walk more than

  • 100 meters without pain, but I still ruddy love a little hike!

  • In 1830, while travelling in France and Spain, Lister was the first woman to ascend Monte

  • Perdido in the Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain.

  • Anne and Ann were together for eight years until Gentleman Jack’s death

  • At which point her devastated lover checked herself into

  • Dr Belcombe’s asylum!

  • Anne’s diaries had been hidden behind a panel at Shibden Hall and weren’t discovered

  • until almost a hundred years after her death by the last inhabitant of Shibden Hall, John

  • Lister. John and a friend of his, Arthur Burrell, set to decoding the secret passages of the

  • diary and were more than a little shocked at the lady-loving they found! Burrell advised

  • his friend toburn them all to hell

  • But John didn’t take his advice, instead choosing to just stuff them back behind the

  • panel. This may have been because, as rumoured, John was also gay and recognised an important

  • part of his LGBTQ+ history when he saw one!

  • Whilst Anne had been quite open about the way she lived her life- shockingly so even-

  • the details of her diary were