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A new account of a pioneering lesbian life draws on a diary with graphic descriptions of sex in codeIn July 2018 the first blue plaque to be encircled by the LGBT+ rainbow was unveiled at Holy Trinity church, Goodramgate, York. The plaque celebrates the life of Anne Lister (1791-1840), a “gender-nonconforming entrepreneur”, and commemorates the “marital commitment without legal recognition” that took place between her and her lover Ann Walker in the church in 1834. Controversially, the word “lesbian” was not used on the plaque. Lister, from a wealthy family, inherited Shibden Hall, a Tudor mansion, near Halifax. She was closely involved in running her estate, well-read, well-travelled, and the only female co-founder of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society. She dressed always in black and spoke openly in her deep voice of her interest in other women. Locally she was mocked as “Gentleman Jack”. “Does your cock stand?” someone in the street once jeered, and anonymous hate mail started arriving at Shibden Hall. Angela Steidele, translated from German by Katy Derbyshire, notes that, even when physically threatened, Lister remained calmly committed to her lifestyle, and confident that “God was on her side, as she was His creature too”. Continue reading...