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Short biography
Anne Lister was the daughter of Jeremy Lister, who as a young man had served with the British army at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in the American War of Independence, and his wife Rebecca. In 1793, the family moved to an estate named Skefler House at Market Weighton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Anne was educated at home, at a school in Ripon, and at the Manor House School, York. In 1826, Anne inherited the family estate, Shibden Hall, and its income allowed her the freedom to live as she pleased. She renovated Shibden Hall to her own design and added a Gothic tower to serve as her private library. She participated in activities that were unusual for an early 19th-century lady, such as opening and owning a colliery. In 1830, while travelling in France, she was the first woman to ascend Mont Perdu, in the Pyrenees. She made a Grand Tour of Russia, the Caucasus and Persia, and climbed Mount Ararat in 1839. Anne Lister died at age 49 of a fever at Koutais (now Kutaisi) in Georgia while travelling. During her life, Anne kept a diary that took up 26 volumes. About one-sixth of it was encrypted in a simple code of her own devising and described her lesbian affairs; the diary also discussed her daily life and her thoughts on national events and her business interests. John Lister (1847-1933), the last inhabitant of Shibden Hall, deciphered the code, and the diaries were published beginning in 1988.
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