In The Footsteps of Anne Lister by Adeline Lim vol1In The Footsteps of Anne Lister by Adeline Lim is a non-fiction mixture of history, travelogue and personal journey.

In an attempt to recover from personal grief, the author, Adeline Lim, embarks on a journey first taken by Anne Lister in 1833. After much research on the woman now famous as ‘Gentleman Jack’, she travels through Germany and onto Denmark, noting the differences and similarities between the two journeys. Using excerpts from Anne Lister’s diaries and letters, the author lets us see into the mind of the pioneering lesbian traveler. Following both journeys gives a fascinating insight into both women and into the differences for women in the 19th century and today.

The Characters

I know a fair bit about Anne Lister, having watched the TV series ‘Gentleman Jack’, and having visited Shibden Hall, the home of Anne Lister in Halifax, for myself in 2019. But I’ve never read her diaries and this book has snippets from them throughout. I felt that I got to know Anne Lister so much better by reading this book. The author gives the background to the diaries and we find out what had been going on in Anne’s life, her relationships and business dealings. I admired Anne even more after reading the book. Adeline Lim, the author, is the other ‘character’ in this tale. Her own story was enjoyable to read, and I found her interest in Anne’s life infectious. I enjoyed following her modern-day journey as she found parallels between the two eras.

The Writing Style

The writing style was enjoyable and chatty. I felt I was taking the journey along with the two women. The author included maps of the journeys and she also included footnotes on each page, so that the more obscure words and descriptions in Anne Lister’s diaries could be explained and understood by a modern-day reader. There is also a complete itinerary at the back.

The Pros

I enjoyed seeing into the mind of a wonderful, passionate, brave woman, who was born centuries before the law and society caught up with what she thought was obvious.

The Cons


The Conclusion

It’s a fascinating book, telling the story of the life of one woman, Anne Lister, who didn’t give a damn what people thought of her. She was capable, brave and intelligent and that came through on every page. I loved reading of her travels, the women she loved and the people she met. The historical detail is wonderful and so well described. She was an astounding woman, and I cannot imagine many today who would undertake such a journey, never mind in 1833. I really enjoyed it.

Excerpt from In The Footsteps of Anne Lister by Adeline Lim

Anne had a propensity to travel with thermometers. In the 1800s thermometers were as tall as a four- year-old child, and probably weighed half as much. They were encased in quality-wood, solid things one could use as an accessory to murder. I was not about to walk around with something like that, and made do with the digital thermometer on the dashboard of my car.

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In the Footsteps of Anne Lister

In the Footsteps of Anne Lister – Volume 1

Bits and Bobs

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Note: I received a free review copy of In The Footsteps of Anne Lister by Adeline Lim. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site