From the desk of Helena Whitbread: Gentleman Jack

The historian who brought us the diaries of Anne Lister is currently working on Lister’s biography. She kindly agreed to send the occasional postcard during her search for Halifax’s most unusual landowner.

Helena Whitbread writes:

Henry James stated that for anyone who aspires to become a writer the essential prerequisite is – solitude. While there is absolutely no way in which I can claim to be in the same exalted sphere as Henry James, I do find that writing the biography of Anne Lister does mean that many quiet, uninterrupted hours of work each day at home is fundamental if the work is to progress.

From time to time, the outside world intrudes itself upon me, mostly by way of e-mails, telephone calls and the postman at the door.

E-mail messages bring me many snippets about what the wider world thinks of my already published books on Anne Lister which direct me into the multifarious ways in which readers and scholars have chosen to work on differing aspects of this amazing woman’s life. The latest e-mail, from a friend, contained two links – the first of which, entitled “Paul Martin’s visit to Shibden Hall”, will take you right into the heart of Anne Lister’s home, set in a corner of the Yorkshire hillside above the town of Halifax. The second takes us to Anne Lister’s adventurous ascent of Mount Vignemale in the Pyrenees.

And here’s a great song about Anne Lister composed by two clever Yorkshirewomen: ‘Gentleman Jack’.


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