ALBW 2023 – Anne Lister Birthday Week – Bold Strokes Books Writing Workshop

Anne Lister Birthday Week, ALBW 2023: Bold Strokes Books Writing Workshop Anna Larner Mayapee Chowdhury Cathy Dunnell Lyn Hemphill Jenna Jarvis

Anne Lister Birthday Week (ALBW)

Anne Lister was the 19th century iconic businesswoman, landowner, lesbian, scholar, and traveler – whose story became world-famous through Sally Wainwright’s BBC/HBO series, Gentleman Jack.

The ground-breaking TV series inspired American fan Pat Esgate to visit Anne Lister’s hometown, Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK in 2019 and to organise the 2020 Anne Lister Birthday Festival.

A celebration of all things Anne Lister is now held annually.

I was delighted to be a part of the 2023 festival which brought Anne Lister’s story to life through tours, talks, workshops – all situated amongst Halifax’s stunning heritage sites, including Anne’s historic home, Shibden Hall, the Halifax Minster, Piece Hall and Dean Clough.

ALBW2023 – Bold Strokes Books Writing Workshop

As part of the celebrations LGBTQ+ publishing house Bold Strokes Books authors Mayapee Chowdhury, Cathy Dunnell, Lyn Hemphill, Jenna Jarvis, and Anna Larner held a workshop introducing worlds in which sapphic characters defy the boundaries their societies would impose on them, in life and in love.

The workshop celebrated diverse modes of storytelling and world-building: from a contemporary romance set in India, to a historical romance set on the Victorian-era North Yorkshire moors, to both contemporary and epic fantasies (mermaids! dragons!), to the tale of a modern Englishwoman who finds her courage with the discovery of her connection to her brave suffragette ancestor.

Here are some of my photos from the inspiring week in Halifax. Many thanks to Pat Esgate, Cheryl MacDonald and the ALBW team for putting on such an amazing festival.

Anne Lister

Image of Anne Lister - past and present

Anne Lister represents something very special to me, which is the unapologetic right for a woman to be themselves.  

Being yourself takes great courage that must be applied every day to each decision you make, and to every encounter that challenges and seeks to undermine who you are. 

Anne Lister did not look to others for approval or permission to be herself. She led by example with actions that were progressive and bold, and with a determination and strength in both heart and mind.  

The legacy she leaves is inspiring and gives hope. I can hear her say, “I am me. I live my life being true to myself. And that is living indeed.” 

Anna Larner, Lesbian Romance Author