Friday, May 21, 2010

BBC movie: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister


I saw this on AfterEllen.com blog which has an exclusive trailer for a film coming out about an actual historical figure Ann Lister, who was a lesbian and chronicled her life in a series of diaries.

This looks like it's going to be really good. Unfortunately, I don't get the BBC so I will have to wait until it's out on DVD. The DVD is coming out on June 14 according to Amazon UK. But could be a while for it in the US. I do have a code free DVD player though.

After watching Tipping the Velvet, I have a craving for historical lesbian stories. What's especially interesting is that she was a real person.
Hats off to the BBC who has the guts to make these films.

You can watch the Trailer here for The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

From the BBC site:

Maxine Peake stars in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, a bold and passionate new drama for BBC Two, written by Jane English and directed by James Kent.

Anne Lister, 1791–1840, was a Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and diarist. She was also a lesbian who, despite needing to keep her orientation secret from society at large, defied the conventions of her times by living with her female lover.

Anne kept a detailed account of her life, loves and emotions in a fascinating and painfully honest four million word journal. A sizeable portion of the journal was written in code and the recent deciphering of these diaries provides an astonishing insight into the life of the woman who has been called Britain’s first modern lesbian.

Anne Lister's remarkable diary and her truly extraordinary life form the basis of The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister.

This one-off 90-minute drama features a stellar cast, including Anna Madeley; Susan Lynch; Christine Bottomley; Gemma Jones; Dean Lennox Kelly and Tina O'Brien.

An accompanying documentary presented by comedy writer and presenter Sue Perkins tells the story of Anne Lister and the decoding of her diaries.

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, says: "This is the world of the Brontes, with an unexpected twist.

"These remarkable diaries have shown that life and love in 19th century Yorkshire was more varied and surprising than you might think from reading the great novels."

12 comments:

Katiebabs/ KB said...

Oh wow. So watching this. I wonder if you can read her diaries?

The trailer is awesome. Too bad Colin Firth doesn't have a cameo ;)

M. A. said...

Too bad Colin Firth doesn't have a cameo ;)

*dreamy sigh*

Maili said...

@KatieBabs
Yes, you can. Here are some selected excerpts from a book (I can't remember what it's called) at this site: http://www.historytoherstory.org.uk/index.php?targetid=5

Maili said...

@KatieBabs
Doh. Should have checked Amazon.co.uk -- I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840, by Anne Lister (Author), Helena Whitbread (Editor)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Own-Heart-1791-1840-Literature/dp/0814792499

LVLM said...

Katie and M.A.- I so agree on Colin Firth. *licks lips* :)

Maili- how interesting. I might try and get that book. I never heard of her until I saw that posting. But now I'm very curious.

Would be interesting to read the diaries and see the reality vs what will probably be a romanticized version of her life.

LVLM said...

Heh, OK I just looked on Amazon and there's one review and not good for that book.

http://www.amazon.com/Know-Own-Heart-1791-1840-Literature/dp/0814792499/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274490289&sr=8-1

As I suspect, the movie version will be a lot more interesting.

M. A. said...

I admit some curiosity about the diary. I'm a nut for primary historical sources, but yes, one does go through a lot of what might be "boring" information in comparison to a dramatic interpretation recorded for entertainment purposes.

I think it's pretty awful Lister had to record her experiences in coded language to disguise her lifestyle in her own diaries.

LVLM said...

I think it's pretty awful Lister had to record her experiences in coded language to disguise her lifestyle in her own diaries.

Yes, but this is what makes her even more fascinating now. More than she probably was.

Cathy in AK said...

Oooh....This does sound good. I get BBC America, so I hope to see it there.

It is sad that Lister had to do so much to cover herself and her lover. How exhausting!

M. A. said...

It is sad that Lister had to do so much to cover herself and her lover. How exhausting!

Most gentry/aristocracy figures had a fear of their private correspondences somehow exposing their "secrets." Aristocrats were sort of the celebrities, fashion icons, heroes, and role models of their time.

I recall reading a bio of Duchess of Devonshire, rumored to have lived in a menage situation with her husband and her best friend. The Duchess named her best friend in her will, making her responsible for all the Duchess's private papers and correspondence. Probably an effort on her part to censure or "cover up" any "unpleasant details" that might embarass or shame the Devonshires and the Spencers.

Cathy in AK said...

Most gentry/aristocracy figures had a fear of their private correspondences somehow exposing their "secrets." Aristocrats were sort of the celebrities, fashion icons, heroes, and role models of their time.

What's interesting to me is that even the stuff that folks didn't want to share with the rest of the world was written down. You'd think it would be safer to *not* keep diaries and such. But I guess having some kind of written memory of what we experience is so...human that we'll risk livelihood and reputation for it.

M. A. said...

Cathy, it's even been suggested that certain historical figures purposefully wrote things -- letters, journal entries, and other correspondences -- with the full knowledge the items might be subject to publication. Naturally, people like this put greater care and discretion into their letters, memoirs, etc..


Marie Antoinette wrote letters discussing a male individual never addressed by name, only pronouns ("he" and "him.") It's generally accepted she is referring to Count Fersen, reputed to be either her intimate friend or her lover (to this day, the relationship has never been clear.) It's understandable the queen would do this. Regardless of how innocent (or not) her involvement with Fersen happened to be, it was entirely inappropriate for a married woman (especially Queen of France) to express interest in or discuss another man, even in the sense of being polite or expressing friendship.

This was also a time when people were subject to sudden death. Often, journals, letters, and other personal papers might be the only way subsequent generations got to know a deceased relative.

I think you're right, and I'd make an educated guess that the GBLT community specifically would have fewer confidants and intimates with whom they could share their true selves. Maybe writing it down was the best they could do.