Essential Reading

'I have been a family historian for more than 40 years, and a professional historian for over 30, but as I read it, I was constantly encountering new ways of looking at my family history....Essential reading I would say!' Alan Crosby, WDYTYA Magazine

Friday, 28 June 2019

Enjoying Anne Lister/Gentleman Jack ? - You Will Love Nelly Weeton

If you're enjoying the BBC's Gentleman Jack (the story of lesbian diarist Anne Lister) you will love Miss Weeton! 

Miss Weeton - a teacher, governess and traveller - was an equally fascinating character who also bravely challenged the role of women in her times and documented her struggles in letters and diaries. Her dramatic story includes tragic deaths, domestic violence, and family intrigue set against the background of early nineteenth-century Lancashire. 

Nelly Weeton lived and wrote at the same time as Anne Lister in the North of England. Her letterbooks and journals were found a century later on a Wigan bookstall. 


The book, edited by Alan Roby (and with an introduction by me), recently won the Alan Ball Award for  a Local History Book.





Miss Weeton, Governess and Traveller  ISBN 978-1-5262-0553-7


Written in solitude, Miss Nelly Weeton’s letters, journal entries and other autobiographical writings reveal a formidable woman as they vividly transport the reader through Georgian England.  With breathtaking cathartic candour, she reveals the sources of her protracted pain through years of betrayal, intimidation, humiliation and greed.
When her sea captain father was mortally wounded in the American War of Independence, her heart-broken mother removed from Lancaster to Up Holland village, near Wigan, to begin a new life with her two children.  At the age of 31, daughter Nelly finally broke free from the myopic discouragement of those closest to her.  Armed only with determination, a passion for literature and an unshakeable piety, she left the ‘licentious’ village of Up Holland, to eventually gain employment in the homes of the gentry.
With a penchant for excitement and adventure, Miss Weeton rivetingly describes her high risk ‘outside’ stage coach journey to and from London, and her walking and climbing excursions around the Isle-of-Man and North Wales. Her lone ascents of both Snaefell and Snowdon, supported only by a parasol and slippery-soled leather shoes, remain amazing feats of endurance.
On the 5th of June 1812, fortified by three boiled eggs, a crust of bread and wearing a slouch straw hat, a grey stuff jacket, with her map and memorandum book in a bag, she boldly ‘sallied forth’ alone for 35 miles . . .

                                                            Alan Ball Award (Details)

Wigan Evening Post, 11th October 2016
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1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article, it has inspired me to discover more about Nelly Weeton. My mother's family were based in Wigan, so I visited it a lot as a child. It will be interesting to read about what it was like in the early 1800s.

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