Lady Anne’s diaries are brought to book

Lady Anne Clifford
Lady Anne Clifford
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A missing portrait apparently of a 17th century peeress who became known as “Queen of the North”, has been published with a collection of her detailed and frank autobiographical writings, following research by a Yorkshire academic.

Lady Anne Clifford, heiress of the third Earl of Cumberland, was born at Skipton Castle – which she later restored – and turned out copious letters and diaries. She was also a considerable landowner, having inherited other castles in Cumbria from her father, a courtier to Elizabeth I.

Her texts, covering seven decades, have been compiled by Prof Jessica Malay of Huddersfield University, for a new book called Anne Clifford’s Autobiographical Writing.

Prof Malay said: “It’s very readable. You feel like you’re spending each day with her and that you’re meeting the people she meets. It is filled with characters – like a Dickensian novel.”

The book’s cover is a painting by the artist Robert Peake, who was active in the early 1600s. It is identified in catalogues only as Portrait of a Girl, but Prof Malay said she recognised it as Anne Clifford.

“It has her dimpled chin, her eyes and her hair,” she said.

She now plans to write a full biography of Lady Anne. “I don’t understand why there has been no film or TV drama about her because she was a feisty lady, a larger-than-life figure who would come over very well on the screen,” she said.