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Who We Are

The Anne Lister Society stems from the vision of Sally Wainwright, OBE (BAFTA-Award-winning writer, director, and executive producer of the 2019 BBC/HBO drama about Anne Lister, Gentleman Jack). In November 2019, Wainwright and her colleague, Anne Choma (diary transcriber and senior historical consultant for Gentleman Jack and author of Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister), began present discussions with Pat Esgate (organizer of the Anne Lister Birthday Week celebrations in Halifax) and Laurie Shannon (Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of Literature at Northwestern University and Anne Lister Society coordinator) about creating an association.

To build the Anne Lister Society, we have collaborated with the two ground-breaking historians who brought Anne Lister to light: Helena Whitbread (author of I Know My Own Heart [1988] and No Priest but Love [1993], with new editions published as The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister) and Jill Liddington (author of Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax 1791-1840 [1994], Female Fortune: Land, Gender, and Authority [1998], and Nature’s Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire [2003]). Our steering group of good counselors includes Caroline Gonda (Henry Philpott College Lecturer in English at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge University and co-editor of the forthcoming collection, Decoding Anne Lister: From the Archives to Gentleman Jack), Chris Roulston (Professor of French and Women's Studies at the University of Western Ontario and co-editor of Decoding Anne Lister), Ros Ballaster (Professor of 18th Century Studies at Mansfield College, Oxford University; Faculty Board Chair of English at Oxford; and Principal Investigator on the Digital Edgeworth Network), and Joan Burda (attorney and member of the Anne Lister Diary Transcription Project).

Laurie Shannon, Caroline Gonda, and Chris Roulston served as our 2022 conference committee; for 2023, we were delighted to add Stephen Turton and Trish Bredar to the conference committee.

We are especially grateful for the support of Teresa Nixon, Ruth Cummins, Jenny Wood, and all the amazing staff of the West Yorkshire Archive Service. We are also thankful for the advice given by the Rev. Jane Finn (former curate of Halifax Minster); David Glover (President of the Halifax Antiquarian Society), Rachel Lappin (Visitor Engagement Officer for Calderdale Council); and Councillor Jane Scullion (Leader of Calderdale Council) and Robin Tuddenham (Chief Executive Officer of Calderdale Council).

We are very glad to be liaising with Anne Lister’s magical estate, Shibden Hall, and the venerable Halifax Minster where she attended services and was buried. We aim to keep the Society firmly grounded in Anne Lister’s Halifax and to build it into a membership organization over the coming years. It will take all the perspectives we can muster to try to do justice to Anne Lister’s life and writings. ALS is committed to thoughtful and inclusive exchange, where all inquiries are supported in the spirit of learning -- in keeping with the golden rule and with Anne's own persistent regard for civility. All who wish to engage her story are invited to bring their ideas, curiosity, and courtesy to the conversation!

shibden hall anne lister halifax west yorkshire