New Edition: Anne Lister Diaries

While reading recent Tweets posted by Charlotte Frost (author of the recent biography of Sir William Knighton) – always a source of interesting news! – there was this retweet on 18 December from Helena Whitbread:

“I received some good news! Virago are putting out a reprint of my book, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. A nice Christmas happening.”

Indeed! I have Helena’s second book, No Priest But Love, yet have stayed with the library copy of I Know My Own Heart: the Diaries of Anne Lister. Time to add it to my library.

In looking for more about Helena’s recent activities — the Twitter account mentions a blog… — I came across the following, which readers might be interested in visiting:



“Reads” In my Recently-Bought Basket

Although much useful commentary will have to wait, I wanted to share my book finds! Much come via the used book network because they’re not new publications. I’ll try to list these from memory, so I’ll add to this list if I’ve forgotten a book!


A Lady of Fashion: Barabara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics, is part illustrated guide through Barbara’s closet, and part biography. Long out of print (published 1987), this tomb can be difficult to find at reasonable prices. Watch an Amazon customer review.


After watching Amanda Vickery’s visit with the current owner of the manuscript Diary of William Tayler, Footman, I tracked this hard to find title down at the publication office of the Westminster Archives. For once, brand new was less costly than used – and this edition has this wonderful cover, which is a work painted by William Tayler, footman. Want a taste of William’s writings? see The Diary Review’s review; and this lengthy reprint in the book Useful Toil. Reading the early section, I learned that William’s employer, Mrs Prinsep, had a connection to Augusta Smith (“Mamma”)!


Sisters of Fortune I had taken out of the library, never finished reading, and brought it back when it was due; but it was a nice biography of the Caton sisters, at home (in the US) and abroad (mainly, in England). Finally have my own copy! Now for the time to sit and just read.


The Busiest Man in England, a biography of Joseph Paxton, caught my eye from reading about his connection to Chatsworth. A harder to find title, written more than three-quarters of a century ago, Violet Markham’s Paxton and the Bachelor Duke, whet my appetite for learning more about the man best known for his Crystal Palace. The opening of Busiest Man thrillingly opens with the Crystal Palace’s destruction by fire in 1936.



I don’t have a large video collection, but watching At Home with the Georgians proved the first time I watched something then really wanted to HAVE it to watch over and over. My favorite episode is part 1 – where we get to meet such great record-keepers as William Tayler, footman! The book, Behind Closed Doors, has more indepth treatment of all the subjects, but the twosome has really started me thinking that Two Teens in the Time of Austen needs a video component to companion its books. Stay turned…

essex pauper

One of the most affecting passages in a letter penned by Mary Lady Smith concerned an old servant who was unable to work much longer; his wife came asking for assistance, and Mary was writing to Mamma to ask about pooling their resources to help the old couple out. Only a handful of the many letters in this volume cover the time period of Charles and Mary Smith, but an important read.


The Diary of Abigail Gawthern of Nottingham, 1751-1810 is unusual in that Abigail seems to have kept a journal of some type, but copied out bits of news she wanted to retain. I LOVE this photo of Abigail’s actual journal on Flikr. This is among the oldest on my list: published in 1980!


Diarists, travels, and Wales – how could I resist!? Liz Pitman, the author of Pigsties and Paradise: Lady Diarists and the Tour of Wales, 1795-1860, has kindly added some insight into the Ladies of Llangollen by allowing the words of other Welsh tourists an opportunity to appear on my blog showcasing Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler scholarship.


The Woman’s Domain: Women and the English Country House is my latest purchase — so “latest” that it’s still in the post! Can’t wait for its arrival: Eliza Chute of the Vyne is included in it.

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I’d KILL to have a copy of another diarist mention by Vickery: Secret Comment: the Diaries of Gertrude Savile, 1721-1757. Finding it hard to read online, but the archive does have a twitter feed of her writings. If anyone has a book to sell (at a reasonable cost), do let me know! Like Abigail Gawthern, you can see actual Gertrude Savile on Flikr.

gertrude-savillethe fabulous face of Hannah Boyde as Gertrude Savile