8:30pm – Sunday, November 13 on ABC1
Set in the small, elite world of high society at a time when lesbianism was just not tolerated, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister is an inspiring true story of ‘the first modern lesbian’ – a woman who challenged convention and was determined to simply be herself.
Anne (Maxine Peake) is the young heiress to the 400-acre Shibden Hall Estate. The beautiful Marianna Belcombe (Anna Madeley) is her soul mate, the woman she wants to share her life with. Their passion for each other is all too obvious.
But when it is announced that Marianna is to be married to the wealthy, corpulent and older Mr Lawton, Anne is distraught. In a desperate attempt to forget Marianna, Anne throws herself into academic study.
It is not long however before her libido gets the better of her and she begins a string of affairs. But all the time she cannot forget Marianna.
Unhappy with her husband, Marianna’s letters promise they will be together, soon, when the ailing Charles dies. And when Anne inherits her uncle’s estate, she seizes the opportunity to persuade Marianna once and for all that they can be together.
She marches 10 miles across the moors to declare her love, but embarrassed by her actions, Marianna rejects Anne’s notion that they should be together. Rebuffed once again, Anne turns her attention to building her land into a business, and begins a relationship with the young Ann Walker, a local heiress.
Anne feels she can never love anyone as deeply as she has Marianna, yet when the two are ‘outed’, Ann Walker proves a strong and supportive partner, willing to live as ‘husband and wife’. Should Anne sacrifice real love for the chance to live freely and proudly as a lesbian?