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17:49 | 24th March 2017

Reviews: Film and Book reviews

Fri 19 Mar, 2010
By Danielle Carter


A pioneering woman in so many ways, Anne Lister was also a lesbian, her journal the place where she poured out her emotions and the passions she felt for the women in her life.

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The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

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The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister is based on the true diaries of a landowner born 150 years ago.

The film, premiered on Wednesday at the opening of the British Film Festival. A new film it has been commissioned by BBC2.

Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) delivers a remarkable and heartfelt performance as Anne Lister, an early 19th century Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and prolific diarist whose coded journals form the basis of this true story.



But why the secrecy in putting pen to paper? Writing in symbols and metaphor that has taken 150 years to fully decipher, what could have been so shocking about Anne's life to necessitate such subterfuge?

A pioneering woman in so many ways, Anne Lister was also a lesbian, her journal the place where she poured out her emotions and the passions she felt for the women in her life.

Although careful to keep her feelings secret in her journal, the pressures of an aristocratic society didn't stop her from defying convention and pursuing the woman of her dreams, the beautiful Mariana (Anna Madeley, Affinity). The agonies and ecstasies of Anne's life are vividly drawn in this passionate period drama.

Unable to be with the woman she loves, Anne looks to the local church congregation for new friendships and is joined by Tib, her friend and one time lover, played by the brilliant Susan Lynch (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).

When word comes that Mariana is visiting, Anne cannot resist temptation, and their illicit affair becomes increasingly endangered with the threat of discovery. Shot beautifully on location with a superb supporting cast, Anne Lister is an honest depiction of the secret history of our lesbian past. Entertaining and bold this places lesbian sexuality in the heart of Bronte country, where it had always existed unnoticed - until now.

Courtesy of the BFI

 

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