Anne Lister – The Traveller

Anne first visited Paris in 1819 with her Aunt Anne but she went back for an extended visit in 1824 and then after her uncle’s death in 1826 she travelled extensively in France, Switzerland, the Low Countries, Germany, Scandinavia and finally Russia.  From 1828-1832 Anne was introduced, through her friend, Sibbella Maclean, to people who belonged to the English and Scottish aristocracy, thus gaining entry for a time into higher social circles. As well as visiting major sites she would often visit less touristy sites such as orphanages, factories, prisons and mines.  She stayed in every type of accommodation from grand hotels and private mansions to roadside inns, hovels, monasteries, mountain huts and even her own carriage.  Her Aunt Anne was in Paris during the July revolution of 1830 and Anne revelled in her brief time in Spain in 1839 during the Carlist Civil War.

Anne scaled mountains, including Mount Perdu, the 3rd highest mountain in the Pyrenees in 1830 and was the first amateur mountaineer to reach the summit of Vignemale in the French Pyrenees in 1838.  From as early as 1833 Anne had been dreaming of going to Russia and she finally left Shibden on what was to be her last adventure on 20 June 1839. When she died in 1840 she had been planning to visit the Middle East and ascend Mount Ararat.


30 Apr 1829 – Invitation from Lord and Lady Stuart de Rothesay [English ambassador in Paris], to Anne Lister to attend a soiree on the anniversary of George IV (SH:7/ML/325)


“From Valenciennes onwards the country began gradually to put on some faint semblance to England – at Mons we began to have hedges all around the numerous villages, and from Halle to Brussels might be our own dear island with our own coal-pits and steam engines. After having heard so much of Brussels from the Norcliffes, I am in some sort disappointed.  Never in my life did I see such a parcel of narrow, winding, crooked streets.  There is nothing to form a fine capital but just the quarter where we are – the place royale, and the park and its dependencies.  And as for this vaunted park. ‘tis but about as large as Grosvenor Square.  However it is certainly very pretty as far as it goes. The botanic garden is however, the prettiest I ever saw any where”

23 Aug 1829 – Letter from Anne Lister, Brussels, to her aunt, Anne Lister [senior], Paris (SH:7/ML/355)


“In about two hours hardish climbing up the rock, we …got to the first glacier, so steep that in spite of iron cramps strapped round our feet and long iron pointed sticks in our hands to hold by, it was with some difficulty we got up it. In the next glacier, still worse than the other, one of the Guides with an axe cut little steps for himself and the rest of us, that we could just stick our toes into, and one after another we all got safe over……Getting to the bottom did not give me much trouble – my foot slipped, I found myself sitting instead of standing, and in this way, glided down so nicely that all thought I had done it on purposes – well there was no crevasse near where I was”

20 Dec 1830 – Mont Perdu – Letter from Anne Lister, Paris, to Mr and Mrs Duffin, York  (SH:7/ML/459)


“I was off before the rest and made a nice little excursion into Spain where I had the amusement of being escorted by soldiers one day and stopped by a douanier another. ….and in spite of Mina and his guerrillas I am quite safe and never enjoyed anything more”

10 Oct 1830 – Letter from Anne Lister, Nimes, to her aunt, Anne Lister [senior], Paris (SH:7/ML/449)


Other Exhibition Pages

Anne Lister – An Introduction

Anne Lister – Early Years

Anne Lister – The Journals

Anne Lister – Love Life

Anne Lister – Shibden Hall

Anne Lister – A Window into History

Anne Lister – Reading Anne’s Diaries

Anne Lister – Diary Transcription Project