Anne Lister's Journal Mentions

Steph GallawayPublished on 12 November, 2023
Cover photo: Journal 2 of Anne Lister (26 Jan 1818-10 Apr 1819), Lister's travel journals, 1 (1827), 4 (1829), & 6 (1830) by Erin Resso

Why References to Journals Matter

Anne Lister left behind 25 volumes of her meticulously kept journals (plus one 'volume' collecting loose sheet diary notes from Anne's early years) and 14 travel journals, in which she chronicled the intimate details of her life, thoughts, and experiences. The remarkable dedication she displayed in maintaining such a detailed journal over the course of so many years is worthy of examination.

Within her journals, Lister often mentioned the act of writing itself, emphasizing its therapeutic and cathartic nature. She also frequently mentioned revisiting her own journals, seeking solace in her words,  or turning to them as a trusted source of information and personal account of events. These eferences to her journaling practice offer a unique window into this immense personal endeavor in her life. 

"Keeping this journal costs me much time, but I am satisfied that it is not misspent – In these pages I see the good and evil of my life – the one forbids me to presume, the other to despair."

—Anne Lister, 30 Oct. 1826 (SH:7/ML/E/10/0008)

Furthermore, Lister's journals were not simply private records; they were noticed and commented upon by others in her circle, eliciting curiosity and comments about her writings which she would also document within the journal. Such interactions provide insight into how her contemporaries perceived and engaged with her journaling practice, offering a glimpse into the social context surrounding her journals and attitudes towards diarists of that era.

As we immerse ourselves in her extensive body of work, we aim to unravel the multifaceted role her journals played in Lister's life, shedding light on their significance, the depths of her writing practice, and the impact keeping the journal had on her world.

In addition to tracking mentions of Anne Lister's own journals, this spreadsheet will also encompass references to the journals of other individuals mentioned in her writings and correspondence. This is an essential dimension to consider, as it can confirm the existence of other diaries or journals, which may still lie undiscovered in archives or private collections. 

Should these journals be located, they could provide complementary perspectives and a richer contextual landscape to Anne Lister's own narrative. These additional sources could reveal how journaling was a shared practice within Lister's social circle, and how those journals may have similarly served as personal repositories of thought, historical records, or even social currency. 

"Should anything happen to you.....what would become of the journal book you say you prize so much?" 

–Maria Barlow, 15 January 1826 (SH:7/ML/E/9/0050)

Self-References and Observations

The spreadsheet below is a collaborative effort to compile various mentions of Lister's journal within her journals, inclusive of both her personal commentary and observations she recorded from others. Additionally, by identifying and cataloging mentions of others' journals, we hope to contribute to the broader archival effort, potentially aiding in the discovery of previously unknown historical documents.

This compilation serves as a resource for researchers, historians, and enthusiasts interested in Anne Lister and her contemporaries. By collating mentions of Lister's own journals as well as references to the journals of others, we aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role that journaling played in this historical context. Through further examination, we can uncover not only Lister's unique approach to journaling, but also its broader significance within her social circle and era.

Reference tracker: Journal Mentions


This project is made possible through ongoing contributions from the following people:

How to contribute to this project

Tip: Don't worry about redundancy; enter any information you have and we'll reconcile duplicates later.

All information in this spreadsheet is in English, but please preserve the spellings as written by Anne Lister and others (yes, the butchered foreign words too).

Anyone can help research and add additional information for each references in this spreadsheet.