Gentleman Jack: This is how you can read the incredible diaries of Anne Lister online

Lookout Point/HBO/Aimee Spinks/Calderdale Museums
Lookout Point/HBO/Aimee Spinks/Calderdale Museums

Newly created high quality digital images of every page of the diaries of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, the inspiration behind the BBC drama ‘Gentleman Jack’, are now available to view online, opening up the incredible diaries to a worldwide audience.

The digital resource on the West Yorkshire Archive Service’s website was created as a result of a joint project between West Yorkshire Archive Service and Calderdale Museums, with the generous support of Sally Wainwright from the Wellcome Trust Screenwriters Fellowship.

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The Archive Service has created an online exhibition to introduce ‘the first modern lesbian’, including her early life, journals, love life, business and travel, through her UNESCO recognised diaries - wyascatablogue.wordpress.com/exhibitions/anne-lister
Anne wrote large amounts of her diaries in a code she created to record her deepest and most private feelings, including accounts of her relationships with the women in her life.

A guide to how you can read Anne’s diaries online, with a copy of the code, is included in the Reading Anne’s Diaries page of the exhibition.

A selection of Anne Lister’s diaries can also be seen on display at the Central Library and Archives in Halifax, with other records from Anne’s papers.

The diaries are a unique and fragile resource and access to the originals is necessarily very limited so this is an exciting chance to see the original diary volumes in person. A diary will also be on display at the West Yorkshire History Centre alongside the drama ‘Gentleman Jack’ airing on BBC One.

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Sally Wainwright, the BAFTA winning writer who has written and directed ‘Gentleman Jack’, said: "I'm delighted that anyone - anywhere in the world - can now access every single page of Anne Lister's journal, and in suchfine definition. I'm really proud to have been able to play a part in facilitating this, and hope it brings a whole new raft of people to study Anne Lister's world and her writing".

David Lodge, Head of Service Delivery for West Yorkshire Joint Services, said: "We are privileged to hold Anne Lister’s incredible diaries at the Calderdale office of the West Yorkshire Archive Service and are so happy that her story is becoming increasingly well known.”

Councillor Jo Hepworth, Chair of the WYJS Joint Committee, said “Anne Lister’s diaries are fascinating. It is wonderful to be able to make the diaries available online for anyone to read, and to have diaries on display for people to see Anne’s writing for themselves.”

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