Diary speech bubbles with text

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I must not be obsessive

Natasha
Although I feel mentally stable, self-aware, and well balanced, I do sometimes question my addiction to recording my life, and the two or more hours every day that I devote to it. Do you feel that Anne Lister’s obsessiveness was in any way unhealthy?
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Secret Diaries Past & Present book cover

I have just published a new book—a Q&A collaboration with Helena Whitbread, author of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. Anne was a wealthy lesbian diarist who lived two centuries before our time.
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warning sign, forbidden, prohibited, do not

What was to become a life-long obsession with diary-writing was largely spurred by the chance overhearing of this comment at school when I was seventeen. …

Thursday 9th October 1986
“Not in an unpleasant way.”
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keyhole on grunge background

In my mid twenties (in the mid 1990s) I was persuaded by a friend to read a book called Obsessive Love, by Liz Hodgkinson. The author, having experienced the phenomenon of obsessive love herself, offers many ideas on how it arises. The idea that remained with me is that my teacher, ‘Miss Williams’ (as I call her in my published diaries) and I were lovers in our past lives, that I had had a sudden death and so had carried the intensity of our love, grief from the rift, and recognition of my lover, into my current life. Miss Williams, on the other hand, had lived for a long time after my death, she had overcome the love, her grief had subsided, and she no longer recognised me in this life.
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question marks, love hearts, school logo, phoenix

Four summers ago I met a woman called Cath who had tried out three husbands and who had concluded that marriage is “boring.” Her sister is a “gold star lesbian” (in fact has never even kissed a man), and still the penny didn’t drop for Cath until she herself was fifty-three, when she first fell in love—with a woman. How many women have spent their whole life not realising that they’re gay? How many women realised when they were five years old? How do you know?
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Diary spines

Diary writing became an obsession for me. I have around eight million words of diaries in total. That’s the equivalent of eighty novels. So how did this obsession start? … It all began with a Muppet Show notepad that I received for Christmas as a child. I started to jot down the odd sentence about what I was up to and, of course, what was number one in the charts.
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Unrequited love hearts
  • Six weeks I’ve wanted you. I know how you move, and how the sunlight makes a shadow on the curve of your cheek, and the shape of your ear.
    Laura Kinsale

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Girls and boys icons

I have always been a lesbian. I have never had a boyfriend. But in my teens and early twenties, I did go out with quite a number of boys (… briefly …). From my own personal experience, I offer some advice on how to proceed.
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