Anne's diaries lay hidden for many years, before scholars were brave enough to crack their code. Her erotic confessions and lively letters tell the story of an extraordinary woman. In this new book, author Angela Steidele gives a fresh perspective on the life of a cult historical figure.
Steidele makes grateful use of the work of five generations of scholars, not attempting further decoding but drawing together what has already been revealed to tell the story of Lister’s 'insubordinate life and loves in a single volume' ... Steidele’s steely account of the lives behind the first rainbowed plaque is a triumph of truth over fantasy. Lister’s extraordinary pioneering life deserves to be remembered, even if, in Steidele’s words, she was 'a beast of a woman'.
Here’s the problem with this often fascinating book about a remarkable woman: Lister left too many words. She scribbled 750 a day on everything from her horizontal fumblings to Prussia’s standing in the world, from the care of her toenails to the departure time of stagecoaches. ... The much quoted detail, the often mundane domestic minutiae about money problems, takes the energy out of the story at various points. I could have done with more of Steidele’s wry observations than what she calls 'the tangled haystack of information'. Better still, imagine what a novelist such as Sarah Waters would do, free from the constraints of nonfiction.