27 Rue St. Victor: Anne Lister’s Paris Apartment
Anne Lister visited Paris many times en route to other travel destinations, as well as to spend time in the celebrated city and further her studies. She rented a number of places as her needs evolved, starting with an apartment at 39 Rue Godot de Mauroy with her Aunt Anne, followed by no. 7 Rue St. Victor to study, and finally settling at no. 27 Rue St. Victor, which remained her official Paris address through the end of her life.
While much has been explored about Anne Lister’s ancestral home, Shibden Hall, little has been written about these places which play an important role in Anne’s life over the years. This article explores how Anne came to choose her apartments, how she used them over her different visits, and what we know today about their location.
A little pied-à-terre
In 1830 Anne Lister was in Paris, sharing an apartment with Aunt Anne at 39 Rue Godot de Mauroy, while pursuing some of her ambitions by taking instruction from respected French scientists and continuing to better herself. As her studies progressed, she realized she would require her own space to dissect specimens, study, and receive instruction from her tutors (in addition to attending lectures at Le Jardin des Plantes). On the 3rd of March 1830, Anne discusses this idea with the fellow student1 who was teaching her:
“M.[Monsieur] Julliart came at 9 1/2 and sat till after 11, to say he could get nothing this morning so I have had no lesson - talked to him about the [expediency] of having a room near the Jardin des Plantes for my anatomical and other studies purposes”
“Saw M. Audoin2 on coming away - He had heard of a little apartment n°7 Rue du Jardin des Plantes au 3ème - (my Aunt had driven about while I was at the lecture) took him up, and drove to look at it - 2 little rooms & a very little cuisine at the rate of 180/- per annum I take par trimestre - de 3 mois à 3 mois - then went to look at the new house Rue des Victors - apartments très mal distribués et très chers - 400/- for the 3eme a little bedroom and salon and salle à manger and kitchen - and 1200/- for the 1er[premier] like an entresol - but would have taken 1000/- for the same - the other house opposite the Rue de Seine will do well enough -”
After visiting other apartments, Anne decides to settle for the first option and instructs Monsieur Audouin to secure it for her.
“told M. Audoin to take it - to give the porter 3/- as a fastening penny - the brick floors to be mis en couleur at my expense - I shall have a few chairs and tables to get, and the fitting up will cost me something but on the whole perhaps I shall do very well -”
That evening, Anne once again discusses the apartment with her Aunt Anne:
“sat talking to my aunt about my little apartment Rue du Jardin du Roi - whether to have Cameron with me there or not &c. &c.”
This apartment is located on the 3rd floor of no. 7 Rue St. Victor, then mentioned to Anne as “no. 7 Rue du Jardin des Plantes”. Rue St. Victor was a continuation of the Rue du Jardin du Roi, which meant people called it “Rue du Jardin des Plantes” for some time given its proximity to the Jardin des Plantes (known as Jardin du Roi at the time).
Despite renting no. 7 Rue St. Victor, Anne didn’t quit the apartment she rented with her Aunt Anne. There, both of them enjoyed comforts and conveniences that would be missed at Rue St. Victor. Plus, the little apartment would afford Anne a quiet and private environment where she could study without interruptions and it was close to the Jardin du Roi, where she attended her lectures.
On the 19th of March, Anne muses about the satisfaction it would give her to put the apartment to good use:
“incurred a cross last night thinking how nice it would be if I could have some nice girl at my little apartment near the Jardin du Roi”
“then to my little apartment R. du Jardin du Roi - measuring for curtains &c. - then in passing along R. Copeau left the carriage a little in advance and went into a little shop n°12 - bought a kitchen table and a small noyer table and went with the people to take them to my apartment - all which took a long time - [...] stopped at the shop Place de L’Église de Saint Germain L’Auxerrois - bought the 6 chaises at 18/- and the bibliothèque à 33/-”
On the 7th of April, Anne has to go back to the furniture shop to give the correct address of her apartment:
“drove to 35 Rue de Seine explained that I had given a wrong address where to send the furniture - très fâchée d’avoir fait une telle bêtise – gave the son a franc for the additional trouble of seeking my apartment in vain - leaving the furniture at n°5 Rue du Jardin du Roi (I should have said no. 7 Rue Saint Victor not Rue du Jardin du Roi) and having to go again about it - the son looking as if I had not given enough - n’êtes vous pas content - the good old father looked at him and said ‘oui oui il ne faut pas écorcher personne’ - this struck me - I said nothing but thought within myself what little thing I could give the honest old man by way of cadeau”
2. Monsieur Jean Victor Audouin was a scientist and one of Anne’s professors. He was responsible for finding Monsieur Julliart to assist Anne in her studies and, in later years, would also keep an eye on Anne’s apartment.
A place for study
The 13th of April is an eventful day for Anne: she has her first Anatomy lesson at no. 7 Rue St. Victor:
“preparing for going to my apartment R. St. Victor taking books &c. - off at 9 - note from M. Julliart just before setting off to say he would be there at 10 1/2 - arranging 1 thing or other - buying crockery &c. &c. on going about wood, they asked me 44/- a voie for bois neuf (at the chartier in the R. de Seine) - an imposition quite - M. Julliart having called to ascertain that I was there came again about 10 3/4 - some time in arranging ourselves - fixing up towels as blinds &c. lesson from 11 10/'' to 1 3/4 - 1st I have had in my little pied à terre R. St. Victor - I think I shall do very well there - he brought a womans head between thirty and forty so full of lice had been obliged to burn all the hair off and the smell of the singing and the turpentine prevailed over all other smells he dissected laid bare and we studied the 5 muscles masseter, temporal, buccinateur, grand triangulaire des lèvres, and le grand zygomatique - felt no disgust Mr. Julliart said I was quite guerie that is had got over all qualms the head left with me folded in a duster”
Anne comments about the advantages of having the little apartment. On the 16th of April, she sits at her desk and writes in her journal:
“Then came here rue Saint Victor n°7 where for the 1st time I am at my desk writing my journal - arranging and dawdling over one thing or other till 10 - How light and quiet and airy my little apartment - I shall do very well here - much better for study than rue Godot”
The 3rd of June finds Anne once again at the little apartment of no. 7 Rue St. Victor. This time, Monsieur Julliart brings her a brain:
“walked to Rue Saint V-[Victor] in 53 minutes […] Monsieur Julliart came for a few minutes - brought the cerveau I to leave my key with the porter and he will come again at two and bring un petit enfant à terme”
Mr. Julliart also got Anne a body of a dead child, which they would dissect. Anne apparently stored this specimen, but it ended up rotting and she found it in this state on the 9th of July:
“at Rue Saint V-[Victor] at 8 sweeping and dusting tho’ George had been in the morning for this purpose and washing all up in despair this morning to find the petit enfant had burst up the cover of the bocal and was in a stat[e] of putrefaction nothing to be done but send it away as soon as Mr. Julliart came the luting had not been good enough the spirit had evaporated and the foetus was swollen up like a drowned man a sad pity we must try and manage better in future”
Anne rents the apartment at no. 7 Rue St. Victor for over 14 months. When she is getting ready to leave Paris in the spring of 1831, her landlady promises to keep her things safe while also meeting Anne’s skeleton:
“Drove to my apartment R. St. V-[Victor] - called on my oldish demoiselle proprietaire 1st time there was no avoiding talking or at all rates hearing her talk - so 3/4 hour with her - however she promised to keep an eye over the porter and see that he took care of my things during my absence in England - took her into my apartment to see about contriving something against the cats - had forgotten that my skeleton was left out - however she took it very well - and perhaps it was as well she did see it -”
“very civil note from our propriétaire M. Leclercq³ offering a small apartment upstairs to put our furniture in till my return and then carriage stand gratis, observing that the apartment might do for me just at first till I could suit myself better -”
“went upstairs au 4eme to see the little apartment M. Leclerq mentioned - same distribution as Madame de H-'s[Hagemann's] - anteroom very small, little dining room and drawing room and 2 little bedrooms and kitchen - and one little garret and one cave - 850/- per annum said if it had been 600 I might really have thought of it -”
After giving up the notion of taking the apartment on the 4th floor of no. 39 rue Godot de Mauroy, Anne spends some time on the 5th of May buying shelves:
“Had the joiner up about book shelves at R. St. V-[Victor] 2 montans and tablettes perhaps about 30/-”
In early May 1831, Anne was already using the apartment at no. 7 Rue St. Victor to store her things. On the 6th, Anne casually mentions stopping by to retrieve some of her possessions:
“then to my little pied à terre R. St. V-[Victor] - 10 minutes there - brought away some things -”
Anne has the carpenter at no. 7 Rue St. Victor on the 9th of May to measure the apartment for bookshelves. Anne spends some time also measuring and planning. She calls on the landlady about a deterrent for the cats, which Anne is also determined to keep away from her apartment:
“out at 9 1/4 - per fiacre from the boulevard, and took on the box the Ebeniste or Menuisier husband to the washer woman in our house, to R. St. V-[Victor] to measure for book shelves - to have 8 shelves 3 montans (uprights) - with a back to them - to be the whole height of the room 8 ft. 10 in. English for 75 francs - then measuring and planning apartment and cataloguing the books I have there - then called and saw Mademoiselle my proprietaire about putting up something to keep the cats out - nothing done about it - spoke to the portier about it -”
Anne also ends up visiting the building next door (which had always interested her). She tries to negotiate with the landlady, but is unsuccessful:
“then en passant went in to the next door? to no. 9?, that I have always liked the look of, to see what were the apartments affichés - the 4eme, 3 pièces with fireplaces, and one little one without, and a cabinet forming a nice little apartment looking both ways, into the court, and to the barriere du trône - rent 360/- - said I would not give that - the portière persuaded me to see the Dame Propriètaire - some time with her - 1/2 hour at any rate - she wishful to have me, but would not take what I offered 300/- - told her what pied à terre I had already, and what rent I paid - would give 300/- but not more - at last she came down to 340/- but I was firm, and came away - told her I must decide then, as I had just been giving orders which must be immediately countermanded in the event of my agreeing with her - Had she come down to 300/- I should have agreed with her for the staircase is good all the way up, and I could have been there with Cameron very well - plenty of room for all my things -”
The next morning, Anne Lister considers a new round of negotiations for the 4th floor apartment next door:
“sat some time on the bed thinking whether to take this apartment R. St. V-[Victor] or not - incline to take it at 320/- if the proprietor will agree, but will not give more -”
That day, Anne and her Aunt visited her apartment at no. 7 and inspect the other option next door. Despite liking the 4th floor apartment, the porter’s antics make Anne fall out of love with the place:
“from the College [de France] to my little apartment R. St. V-[Victor] - George and the porter carried my aunt up to see it - then George and the coachman carried her up to see the 4ème next door that I had almost taken yesterday - the porter not a nice looking man - this put me out of love with the apartment which felt hot and looked as if the cupboards in particular would be buggy -”
A place for life
A day later, Anne walks to her apartment and visits some other places. One of these, at number 27 Rue St. Victor, has Anne almost closing the deal for a new place to rent:
“walked by the R. Neuve des Petit Champs R. Croix des Petits Champs &c. to my little apartment R. St. V-[Victor] - asked a few prices of thing[s] en route, and stopped also to see the 3ème of no. 27 R. St. V-[Victor] for which all but agreed at 340/- per annum including porter and all taxes -”
Back at 7 Rue St. Victor, Anne informs her porter that she will give a final answer the following day, since she thinks she would need another room to be able to store all her things:
“told my porter at no. 7, would give a decided answer tomorrow - said I could not possibly stow all my things in my present little apartment without another room - without this must donner congé pour le 1er. Juillet -”
The 12th of May finds Anne with her heart set on the apartment of no. 27 Rue St. Victor. She writes a note to her landlady, Mademoiselle Sézérac, of her little apartment at no. 7:
“wrote the following to my propriétaire 'Mademoiselle Mademoiselle Sézerac, Rue St. Victor no. 7' 'Madame - Trouvant trop petit l'apartement que j'occupe dans votre maison, je suis obligée de le quitter, et je vous prie de vouloir bien en recevoir le congé - Agréez, Madame, je vous prie, l'expression de mes sentimens distingués A Lister - Paris Jeudi 12 Mai, 1831' particular to write it on 1/2 sheet gilt edged paper, enclosed in sealed enveloppe -”
When the note is ready, Anne goes to no. 27 Rue St. Victor to close the deal with the proprietor (Monsieur Cusinberche). She manages to reach an agreement with the proprietor, but asks for some time before she can commit to a definitive answer:
“Out at 8 1/4 - Walked to no. 27 R. St. V-[Victor] saw the proprietor - finding that I would not give more he agreed to take 340/- per annum for the apartment au 3ème - to give a decided answer in 1/2 hour -”
After this, Anne delivers her note to Mademoiselle Sézerac at no. 7 Rue St. Victor and returns to no. 27 to finally close the deal:
“went to my porter no. 7 R. St. V-[Victor] said it was impossible to stow all my things there and gave him the above note for Mademoiselle the propriétaire - then returned to no. 27 - had my new proprietor upstairs, and finally agreed for the apartment - a civil enough good sort of man wanted me to give him some written acknowledgement of having taken the apartment but I declined this saying I would pay him a year's rent in advance and his quittance would be written agreement enough - he had asked for my address meaning to make inquiries about me, but seeing it was so far off said it was too far, that he was quite satisfied, and should make no inquiries at all - In fact, he probably began to think I was at least respectable and not likely to play him the trick some General had lately played him in taking his premier, and then being off without paying anything -”
Anne then returns to her home for breakfast and finds the card of her cousin, John Lister⁴ of Swansea, who called while she was out. After some food and a quick read of the newspaper, she is out again and en route to her new apartment at number 27:
“out again at 12 - per fiacre from the boulevard and took the menuisier on the dicky with the coachman to no. 27 R. St. V-[Victor] - measured for the bibliothèque - staid a few minutes after the menuisier, and on going down had a low bow from the new proprietor who had probably satisfied himself that I was of sufficient importance to merit some increase of civility - then to my little apartment no. 7 - a feeling of sorrow to leave it came over me, and I fell asleep for about 1 1/2 - then wrote notes of the day and off at 3 1/4 -”
Anne mentions the change to a more suitable apartment on a letter to Mariana Lawton on the 13th of May:
“mentioned having donné congé of my little apartment no. 7, and taken a large, that would accommodate me any time for a few weeks, no. 27 R. St. V-[Victor] -”
Anne is now all set to start moving her belongings to the 3rd floor of no. 27 Rue St. Victor. This apartment in the 12th arrondissement would be her address in Paris until her death in 1840.
On the 19th of May, Anne is starting to get settled at her new place:
“Off about 4 per fiacre to R. St. V-[Victor] no. 27 - arranging there - went to no. 7 to déménager - returned per fiacre -”
The remainder of Anne’s belongings from no. 7 Rue St. Victor are moved to no. 27 on the 20th of May:
“off per fiacre to R. St. V-[Victor] at 3 1/2 - got the remainder of the things from no. 7 R. St. V-[Victor] - arranging my books -”
As she makes final arrangements to leave Paris, Anne stops by her new apartment at Rue St. Victor on the 21st of May and pays the first year’s rent in advance:
“then to no. 27 R. St. Victor - did not alight - sent George up with my 1st years rent in advance -”
On the 22nd, Anne is getting ready to go to her apartment when she is delayed by callers. She receives them as civilly as possible, but grumbles in her journal about the inconvenience. After attending to these people, Anne takes George and Cameron, her servants, and they move more things to the apartment:
“Took Cameron and George and off per fiacre with more things to R. St. V-[Victor] about 7 1/2 - staid arranging books &c. and not home till 12 1/4 -”
Later visits and apartment maintenance
Anne would leave Paris with her Aunt Anne on the following day, May 23, 1831. She would then visit several friends, return to Shibden Hall, travel with Mariana Lawton and Vere Hobart—get her heart broken by Vere Hobart—and later get involved with Ann Walker.
After Ann Walker went to Scotland to spend some time with her sister’s family and to get medical treatment, Anne would once again find herself in Paris. This time, she would be en route to Copenhagen. During this stay in Paris in 1833, Anne inevitably stopped at her apartment at no. 27 Rue St. Victor.
On the 25th of July, Anne finally returns to her pied-à-terre after 2 years, 2 months and 2 days. She finds her books dusty, but Eugénie, her lady’s maid, thinks the place would be good enough for them:
“at 4 took Eugénie and walked to my little apartment no. 27 R. St. Victor - there in 38 mins and back in 40 and there about ½ hour - books sadly dusty - Eugénie thought we could be there very well -”
The following day is cleaning day at no. 27 Rue St. Victor. Anne has both servants, Eugénie and Thomas, dusting, and she also joins them herself:
“then took a fiacre from the boulevard to my little apartment - had both my people dusting and myself too till afternoon -”
Anne’s time in Paris in 1833 coincides with the unveiling of Napoleon’s statue at Plâce Vendôme. The statue was unveiled on the 28th of July while the King was present. Per Anne’s journal entry of that day, there was a feeling that King Louis-Phillipe might be shot during the event:
“had seen the King and his cortège pass - very few vivas - our George IV would have had as many when his popularity was at the lowest - seems a fearsomely general impression that the King will be shot at today -”
The statue of Napoleon that was unveiled in July 1833 at Place Vendôme. Source: The British Museum © The Trustees of the British Museum
The statue that originally stood atop the column at Place Vendôme stands today at Les Invalides. Source: Wikimedia
Anne writes to Aunt Anne and cryptically mentions her suspicion:
“a strangely general impression that a certain high personage is to be shot at in the procession - throughout all the world how little men’s minds seem settled!”
Anne also comments that she has considered sending her books home:
“once thought of seeing my books off by water - can scarce make up my mind to do so much trouble delay and expense just now -”
Then, in a letter to Mariana Lawton written on the same day, Anne adds:
“in 20 minds about giving up my apartment -”
Anne’s idea to give up the apartment was apparently motivated by the suspicion that a possible assassination attempt might be imminent. However, this did not come to pass. Only in 1835 would someone try to assassinate King Louis-Phillipe. That attempt would be unsuccessful.
The 2nd of August brings Anne reassuring news when a conversation with Madame Cuvier and Madame de Noé reveals that nothing happened to the King after all. Anne is now inclined to keep her apartment:
“chit chat and news - the King not shot at, and all went off well - better opinion of things here, and now inclined to keep on my little apartment R. St. V-[Victor] no. 27”
Anne is determined to travel northwards and thinks she’ll do quite well as long as she can still use her French. To Lady Stuart, she adds:
“this solitary journey may do me good - it will shew me how far I may really trust to the resources of my own mind - from the moment they fail me, or threaten to do so, I shall date my return - [...] I shall wait to hear what my friends au Jardin des Plantes say before determining about my books”
Anne’s pied-à-terre at no. 27 Rue St. Victor is also put to good use to receive Eugénie’s mother, who arrived there, from Dieppe. As well, the apartment’s cellar is of use to Anne, who stored some of her wines there. On the 7th of August, she comments about this:
“took 3 bottles [of] wine and left 16 in my cellar rue St V-[Victor] n°27”
On the 12th, Anne is once again at Rue St. Victor trying to decide how much she should pay her porter. The next day, Anne receives her former professor, Monsieur Audouin, and then gets some maintenance and siding done at the apartment.
“3/4 hour at R. St. V-[Victor] - saw the proprietor’s wife - asked what to give the porter - 40/- a year - I said that was much - then 30/-”
“in fiacre from the boulevards to R. St. V-[Victor] - M. Audoin came at 10 3/4 and sat 1/2 hour with me - very civil will look after my apartment and books and do all he can for me - the Jardin des Plantes serrurier came at 1 - to put another lock on the front door - Crochard’s commis and another man came with him at 2 1/4 - brought my books from M. Audoins - one man staid till about 4 1/2 arranging putting papers over my books and sorting and tying up the periodicals - sent Thomas home about 3 - then set to by myself and tidied the whole place - folding up all my newly bound books in paper - busy till 7 ¾ -”
On the 14th of August, Monsieur Audouin returns to no. 27 Rue St. Victor and Anne and Thomas are back to cleaning the place:
“off at 8 50/’’ per fiacre and at R. St. V-[Victor] at 9 20/’’ - M. Audoin called for near 1/2 hour at 10 - very civil - will call again tomorrow from 10 to 12 and perhaps M. Brongniart also the serrurier put my own good lock on - had Thomas till 4 dusting &c. - got all my books arranged and looked over and repacked my store-trunk and off again at 8 -”
Monsieur Audouin would meet Anne again the next day. Anne gave him her addresses in Copenhagen and Shibden Hall, as she intended to connect him to some entomologists. Monsieur Brongniart (mineralogy lecturer at the Jardin des Plantes) also calls at Rue St. Victor and Anne spends some time talking to him. After he leaves, she tidies the place up a bit and looks at a bureau of drawers.
The following day, Anne once again stops at no. 27 Rue St. Victor. This time she’s there to collect some things she intends to pack for her upcoming trip to Copenhagen:
“off at 1 1/2 to R. St. V-[Victor] taking Eugenie and Thomas and all the things but plate which I determined to take with me - Eugenie took inventory of crockery pans &c. and furniture - (...) forgot to send the last quittance of my rent up to May next year -”
After getting her affairs in order, Anne left Paris for Copenhagen on the 18th of August 1833.
Unlike her apartment at no. 7 which was used as a place where Anne Lister could dissect specimens and study, 27 Rue St. Victor was a place where she could safely have her second library, store personal belongings, and sleep for a few days if needed. This dependable little apartment would be of use again, this time in June 1834, when Anne returned to Paris with Ann Walker on their honeymoon.
Anne Lister stops at 27 Rue St. Victor to pay her rent and the porter’s annual wages on 20th of June 1834:
“then to my little apartment R. St. V-[Victor] - paid my rent 320/- up to 15 May 1835 and paid the porter her annual 20/- and paid the Taxe Personelle, the 1st time I have ever done it?”
Three days later, Anne returns to the apartment with Ann Walker to store things they won’t need during their travels in Switzerland. Anne also learns that some letters sent to her apartment were forwarded to Geneva.
“arranging what things to leave behind - out at 8 25/’’ - to R. St. V-[Victor] - several letters price 7 francs to be paid at Geneva had been forwarded yesterday to Geneva - what a pity! left the box of things - plate, gloves, some books &c. &c. - went into my cellar and brought away bottle of Champagne”
This passage shows yet another use for the apartment at Rue St. Victor: to serve as Anne’s Paris address, to which letters could be addressed and then safely forwarded to whatever location Anne and Ann found themselves in. In a letter to Aunt Anne Lister from the 11th of June 1834, Anne had instructed her to address their letters to no. 27 Rue St. Victor.
On their return from Switzerland on the 21st of August 1834, Anne and Ann stopped at no. 27 Rue St. Victor again. There, Anne realizes some letters were accidentally forwarded to Geneva:
“passed by R. St. Victor no. 27 - several letters 15 days, and sent immediately to Geneva! How terribly unlucky! - the woman said I had promised to write and say when no more were to be forwarded - I do remember something of this, but never thought of it till this instant - How unlucky! -”
During the following years, Anne would not visit the apartment at no. 27 Rue St. Victor despite continuing to rent it. Her landlord, Monsieur Cusinberche, would write to her at Shibden in July 1837 about the rent Anne owed from 1836. Anne ended up paying this rent in August of 1837 and settled everything until May 1838. In June 1838, when Anne and Ann were on a tour of the continent, the apartment would be useful again.
After arriving in Paris with Ann Walker and a previous quick visit to Rue St. Victor to look for some of her journal books, Anne returns to her pied-à-terre on the 15th of June 1838:
“then to R. St. V-[Victor] - paid my rent up to the 15th May 1839 and paid my portière also (good honest little woman) for 4 years also up to 15 May 1839 at 20/- per annum and gave her 5/- over with which she seemed well pleased - she gave me letter from Moët Epernay with bill for the dozen Champagne sent to the care of Quillacq Calais - found my plate in the box of which I had not brought from home the key and fancied that this box merely contained minerals of little value - and found my journals too carefully done up in linen in the buffet amongst the linen - I would not examine this parcel before feeling sure that they were other books -”
On the 19th of June, as Anne and Ann are getting ready to leave Paris for the Pyrenees, they return to Rue St. Victor to store several items at the apartment, among which were a gold watch Anne’s mother gave her, plate, several clothing items, and books.
“put all the things for R. St. V-[Victor] into the fiacre and took George and A-[Ann] and I off about 5 1/4 or after and arrived at 6 - sent George home as soon as he got the things upstairs, and then A-[Ann] and I went to the Restaurant en face du Jardin and from 6 55/’’ to 7 1/4 had a very good dinner which we both enjoyed - everything ordered pour un and quite enough for us two - then back to Rue St. V-[Victor] and putting all away tidily till 9 40/’’ -”
The landlady, Madame Cusinberche, offered accommodations for Anne, Ann and the servants on the 5th floor, so they could stay at no. 27 if they chose to do so on their return.
“Madame Cusinberche would find us beds - and ditto and little rooms upstairs au 5ème for the 2 servants if on our return we chose to stay at R. St. V-[Victor] - said I would think about it - as also about the meuble and would write if I wished it to be done - If I took the little room adjoining my study and the little kitchen opposite to it, these 2 pièces would be 200/- per annum - but I might if my apartment was furnished let it advantageously - J’y penserai -”
While they are in the Pyrenees, Anne continues to have her letters directed to her apartment in Paris. In October 1838, she mentioned this to Robert Parker (Solicitor, Halifax) and included the apartment's address “no. 27 Rue St. Victor, Quartier du Jardin des Plantes, à Paris”. Anne and Ann returned to Rue St. Victor on the 8th of November after their trip. There, they would find correspondence:
“therefore sent George home after getting us a fiacre for R. St. V-[Victor] - there in 20 minutes - letter for me from S.[Samuel] W.[Washington] to say the Fold farm is on sale belonging to Messrs. Waterhouse Empson and Saltmarshe in right of their wives - and to say also that he thought Mrs. A.[Ann] W.[Walker] should have some steady person to live with her naming the daughter of our Mr. Walker’s quondam clerks but that Mrs. A.[Ann] W.[Walker] was well as usual - and ending with Mrs. A.[Ann] W.[Walker] desired him to tell Miss W-[Walker] that she wanted her - took A-[Ann] to the restaurant to have a basin of soup - and read the letter there - A-[Ann] poorly before - now in tears - took merely a spoonful of soup - to be off on Monday next and travel night and day - did what I could to tranquilize A-[Ann]”
“A-[Ann] took an inventory of furniture and kitchen things while I packed up in one of the carriage seat-boxes all my papers journal and extract books left here and looked over my trunk full of linen &c. &c.”
Anne and Ann would stop at Rue St. Victor one last time on the 14th of November 1838, to retrieve letters, and then would leave Paris for England on the 15th.
In 1839, Anne would once again pay her rent for no. 27 Rue St. Victor. However, when Anne and Ann departed Halifax for their final adventure together, they didn’t stop in Paris. Instead, they travelled north towards Hamburg and, from there, visited Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and finally reached Russia. Their tour of the Russian Empire would last months with long stops at Moscow and Tiflis. This adventure would be cut short by Anne Lister’s death in September 1840.
It is not known if Ann Walker stopped in Paris when she returned from Russia. However, the rent of no. 27 Rue St. Victor still had to be paid and Mr. Cusinberche got the value he was owed in 1841, when the contents of the apartment were inventoried and valued.
Curious artifacts at no. 27 Rue St. Victor
Anne’s belongings were many and served multiple purposes over the years. Her apartment at no. 27 Rue St. Victor housed a variety of items from practical household fixtures like furniture and plates, to various books, papers and knick knacks from her time as a student. Anne knew she could trust her landlord to keep her things safe and her parisian friends would keep an eye on the place if needed.
In 1838, when Ann Walker created the inventory of furniture and kitchen utensils, she noted several items that hint at the apartment’s use as storage and its versatility as a possible temporary accommodation. Ann’s inventory gives away information about the layout of the apartment, since she mentions a kitchen, a salon, and a study. Anne herself mentions a small room adjoining her study, but it is unclear if the contents of this room are included in Ann’s inventory or not.
In the kitchen, amidst the list of pots, pans, and teacups, Ann notes two sorts of China (with gold edge and plain white), there’s a charcoal stove, a dutch oven, a big and small stove, an assortment of trays, and several sorts of brushes, among other utensils.
The main room of the apartment housed a sofa, a bed, several sorts of tables, and chairs. Since Ann also wrote down the colours of some items, we know this room was decorated with furniture adorned with crimson cloth. The sofa and six chairs used this color palette.
Ann also inventoried the furniture in the study, which housed Anne’s books and other artifacts from Anne’s time as a student. Per Ann’s inventory, there was a writing table, a bookshelf, a chair with a black leather seat and two other chairs with more modest straw seats, and some boxes and trunks. She also counted two girandoles, which would likely be used to illuminate the room.
Ann’s inventory, though fairly complete, doesn’t include other interesting items Anne and Ann herself kept at no. 27 Rue St. Victor. From Anne’s journal of July 1838, we know some of Ann’s clothes and books were kept there during their trip to the Pyrenees.
Perhaps some of the most curious artifacts kept at this pied-à-terre were the ones from Anne’s time as a student in Paris. Among these interesting possessions was a human skeleton, which Anne bought on the 12th of January 1830, along with some skulls.
"Monsieur Audoin joined me, and we went as before to the anatomy shop - the lady who had chanced to be near me at the lecture (1st time) and 2 gents[gentlemen] came in about skulls à la Dr. Gall - got my human crane, and a crane of a dog, ditto of a cat, and ditto of a rabbit price 30/- ordered a human crane very ingeniously jointed to be 30/- and ordered a skeleton to be 120/- with armoire for it to be placed in, and an iron support for it to hang on, price I know not what - all to be sent home on Sunday -"
By the time an inventory of Anne’s belongings was created in June 1841, only the skeleton is mentioned. Per the valuation from that time, it was worth only 4 francs, a far cry from the 120 francs Anne paid when she acquired it. The same inventory also mentions a small surgical saw.
Another item from Anne’s time as a student was a set of wooden minerals models. She acquired these when she bought a mahogany box of minerals on the 8th of February 1831:
“Then to Launoy’s - ¾ hour there and ended by buying and bringing home a collection of minerals in neat mahogany covered box - 400 échantillons classed after Haüy as abridged by Brard originally 400/ - She Mademoiselle Launoy sister of the naturalist only asked 250/. in consequence of the times, and I got it, (including a box containing 24 little wood models of primitive crystals at 15/.) for 200/-, so that the collection costs me, in fact, 185/- - paid 40/- at the time the woman Mademoiselle L-[Launoy] to come for the rest tonight - had my hair done Looking at my minerals - ”
Anne’s minerals also devalued quite a lot over the years. In 1841, these were worth 50 francs, a considerable reduction from the 185 francs Anne paid originally.
A set of wooden mineral models. Anne's models were identical to these. Source: Musée de l’École des Mines de Paris
Another curious item included in the 1841 inventory was a miniature portrait of a woman. The people evaluating Anne’s belongings assumed it was a family portrait and didn’t value it. The inventory doesn’t mention a possible identity for the woman depicted in the miniature. In Anne’s journals, there are several mentions of miniatures of Anne herself and of some of her lovers, but no proof has emerged so far to connect those to the miniature mentioned in this inventory.
Some volumes of Anne’s journals and some rough journal books (notebooks to write observations throughout the day and travel notes) also found themselves in Paris at some point. In January 1838, Anne is worried she might’ve lost her little rough books from her time travelling with Lady Stuart de Rothesay in 1830, but then realizes she probably left them in Paris:
“Cannot find my little rough book journals of 1830 when traveling with Lady S.[Stuart] de R-[Rothesay] are they in Paris? Surely they cannot be lost!”
“at Rue St.Victor at 1 40/’’ - could not find my Journal books - pothered about it -”
Luckily, she would find her journal books the next day. Today, the West Yorkshire Archive Service holds five of Anne’s travel journals⁵ from this period. There’s a good chance these were the same journals Anne was looking for and eventually found bound in linen at her Paris pied-à-terre.
However, the little journal books weren’t the only part of Anne’s memoirs that were stored at Rue St. Victor. At some point, some of Anne’s journals were also kept there. In 1839, Anne herself gives an example of this when she tells William Gray (Solicitor, York) she brought from Paris a specific volume of her journal:
“Had brought over the vol.[volume] of journal of the time  from Paris –”
The inventory from 1841 doesn’t mention journals, but it does mention sixty four items that consisted in notes, invoices, and other memoranda. However, since the people working on this document were rushed to conclude the inventory, there’s no information as to what these papers pertained to.
One large section of the inventory from June 1841 is dedicated to Anne’s books. Anne’s library at Rue St. Victor ended up being the most valuable portion of her belongings and amounted to 933 francs. Similarly with what happened with other items, the people inventorying Anne’s belongings rushed through parts of this section of the inventory, which means that not every book was catalogued with information that helps identify it.
However, many books were inventoried with details that allow us to use tools like the Anne Lister Bookshelf to cross-reference the books Anne reads throughout her life and the volumes found at no. 27 Rue St. Victor after her death. The comparison below provides a list of books present at Anne’s apartment in 1841 cross-referenced with Anne Lister’s Bookshelf and another inventory of books written by Anne herself in 1831. Among the books already cross-referenced with the bookshelf are works by Cuvier, Lamarck, and Voltaire.
Is the apartment still there?
During Anne’s time, Rue St. Victor was an old street in the Quartier du Jardin du Roi. As was mentioned previously, she rented two apartments in this street.
The first apartment, no. 7 Rue St. Victor, was located near the southern end of the street and close to the Jardin des Plantes, then called the Jardin du Roi. When Anne walked there, she likely could see the corner of the Jardin. On a map of the street from 1836, we can see the buildings at this end and no. 7 is easily identifiable.
Extract from a map of the street in 1836, no. 7 is the fourth unit from the bottom. Source: Archives de Paris - Cadastre de Paris par îlot (1810-1836), map F/31/95/10
This section of Rue St. Victor didn’t change much over the course of almost 200 years. The buildings were renovated, businesses and residents came and went, but overall the layout of the streets stayed more or less the same. Curiously, some of the streets around this end acquired the names of people Anne knew and admired.
Rue St. Victor became Rue Linné after naturalist Carl von Linné (of taxonomy fame), Rue de Seine was renamed to Rue Cuvier after the naturalist Anne much admired and learned from. A fountain was added at the corner of Rue Linné and Rue Cuvier in 1841 in his honor. The Rue du Jardin du Roi is now Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, named after the scientist Anne knew well and admired, and whose lectures she attended. The Rue Copeau, near the location of Anne’s little apartment was also renamed and is today’s Rue Lacépède.
The southward end of Rue Linné in the 1900s. The corner of the Fountain Cuvier is visible on the left side of the image. The Jardin des plantes is also visible on the same side. In front we can see the Hôpital de la Pitié, where Anne's fellow Student Julliart acquired the specimens they ended up dissecting at no. 7 Rue St. Victor. This little apartment would be somewhere on the right side of the image, probably near or behind the photographer.
Image courtesy of Paris Rues
Many of these changes of names and reconfigurations of streets are likely connected to Haussman’s renovation of Paris, which took place from 1853 to 1870. This renovation ensured that Paris gained many new spaces but also lost medieval neighbourhoods and other sights that might’ve been familiar to Anne Lister.
Though the changes at the southernmost point of Rue Linné don’t look too drastic, the same cannot be said for the other end of the former Rue St. Victor. In Anne’s time, this street extended from the corner of the Jardin des Plantes to the Place Maubert. Today, Rue Linné starts at the northernmost end of Place Jussieu and extends to the corner of the Jardin des Plantes, where it joins Rue Cuvier and Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire.
According to this 1836 map that precedes the changes to the street, Anne’s apartment at no. 27 Rue St. Victor was located near the intersection of this street and Rue des Boulangers.
Map of the street in the 1850s, before changes to Rue St. Victor and Rue des Boulangers. No. 27 is the third unit from the top. Source: Archives de Paris - Cadastre de Paris par îlot (1810-1836), map F/31/95/10
Comparing this with today’s maps, it’s obvious that this part of former Rue St. Victor changed somewhat. The Rue des Boulangers seems to have been broadened, which likely led to the changes at the corner in which it meets today’s Rue Linné. Furthermore, we must also consider the change in the numbering system from the old Rue St. Victor to the new Rue Linné.
Extract from the plan cadastral of Paris. Note how the configuration of the buildings at the corner of Rue de Linné and Rue des Boulangers is different from the one observed in the map from 1836. Source: Direction Générale des Finances Publiques
The current configuration of the buildings at the corner of Rue des Boulangers and Rue Linné (then Rue St. Victor) is different from the one we observe in the 1836 map. The space occupied by no. 31 Rue St. Victor in 1836 seems to now house no. 39 and no. 37 Rue Linné. The current no. 39 dates from 1900 and no. 37 dates from after 1800⁶, so there’s a good chance no. 31 was demolished or reconfigured at some point to lend its space to the new buildings. Furthermore, the building that is today’s no. 35 Rue Linné was also built in the 19th century.
The building at today’s no. 33 Rue Linné, also no. 33 Rue St. Victor at some point in the late 19th century, was built between 1801 and 1850 and was once the Hotel de Londres. This Hotel was property of a Monsieur Cusinberche, who had inherited it from another Cusinberche. The door to today’s no. 33 Rue Linné is still identical to what it looked like in the early 20th century.
Picture of the door of no 33 Rue Linné (Hotel de Londres, 1917) Source: Les Musées de la Ville de Paris
There is still a no. 27 at Rue Linné, but this building was erected in 1850 and it’s located further down the street than no. 27 Rue St. Victor was in 1836. That said, this one is unlikely to be the building of Anne’s apartment. It’s unclear if the building formerly known as no. 27 Rue St. Victor is still standing but, given the configuration of the current and old buildings, there’s a likelihood that it stands and the building was simply renovated and changed numbers.
Additionally, there is still a portion of the original Rue St. Victor left about four blocks north of Anne’s last apartment. With the new numbering you can find a modern 27 Rue St Victor address but that does not correspond to Anne's address, rather it likely corresponds to the block that used to span numbers 125 through 133 of the old Rue St Victor (F/31/95/17).
We can’t say with certainty which modern building from Rue Linné corresponds to the no. 27 Rue St. Victor of Anne's time. However, anyone who walks down Rue Linné today towards the Jardin des Plantes is very likely walking the same stretch of street Anne Lister (and, in later years, also Ann Walker) once used to access the Jardin des Plantes.
Glossary of terms
pied-à-terre — a small house or apartment in a city that you own or rent in addition to your main home, where you stay when visiting that city for a short time
Timeline of events
3 March 1830 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/13/0006 — transcription)
Anne Lister thinks about getting herself a room near the Jardin des Plantes. She intends to use this room as a place in which she can pursue her academic endeavours.
9 March 1830 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/13/0009 — transcription)
Anne hears about an apartment. She visits it some. She ends up renting a small apartment at no. 7 Rue St. Victor, near the Jardin des Plantes.
26 March 1830 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/13/0018 — transcription)
Anne Lister buys furniture for her new little apartment.
13 April 1830 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/13/0026 — transcription)
Anne has her first Anatomy lesson at no. 7 Rue St. Victor with M. Julliart
16 April 1830 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/13/0027 — transcription)
Anne writes her journal for the first time while sitting at her desk in the little apartment of no. 7 Rue St. Victor.
12 May 1831 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/14/0058 — transcription)
Anne writes a note to her landlady at n°7 rue Saint Victor to announce that she’s leaving the apartment. She starts renting the apartment at n°27 rue Saint Victor.
25 July 1833 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/16/0086 — transcription)
On her way to Copenhagen, Anne makes a stop in Paris. She takes Eugénie with her to her apartment.
28 July 1833 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/16/0087 — transcription)
Fearing the assassination of King Louis-Phillipe and the consequent turmoil France would go through, Anne considers giving up her apartment.
2 August 1833 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/16/0090 — transcription)
After learning that nothing happened to the King, Anne is inclined to keep her apartment.
16 August 1833 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/16/0095 — transcription)
Before leaving Paris, Anne goes to the apartment to decide what she wants to take with her for her trip. Eugenie writes an inventory of kitchen tools and furniture.
5 July 1837 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/987 — transcription)
Monsieur Cusinberche, Anne’s landlord from Paris, writes to her at Shibden and encloses an account of her rent and a wish that he’ll see Anne soon.
15 August 1837 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/988 — transcription)
Anne writes a draft of a reply to Mr. Cusinberche pertaining mostly about her rent and how he can be paid. She adds: “J’aime beaucoup mon petit pied-à-terre”.
19 June 1838 (WYAS - SH:7/ML/E/21/0124 — transcription)
Before they leave Paris for the Pyrenees, Anne and Ann store some of their belongings at the apartment of Rue St. Victor.
13 November 1838 (SH:7/ML/1035 — transcription)
Ann writes an inventory of the furniture and some other articles from the apartment at 27 Rue St. Victor.
22 September 1840
Anne Lister dies at Kutaisi, Georgia.
14 June 1841 (MC/ET/LX/764 — transcription)
After Anne’s death, Ann Walker and William Gray (the executors of Anne’s will) request an inventory and valuation of the contents of the apartment at no. 27 Rue St. Victor.
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