I Know My Own Heart Pride Films & Plays | 2019 Photo Credit: Katie Stanley

Inspired by the secret coded diaries of  Yorkshire gentlewoman Anne Lister, I Know My Own Heart subverts all the conventions of a Regency Romance. Teasing out the entangled lives of Lister (nicknamed ‘Gentleman Jack’) and three of her many lovers, this play explores the choices women make in times of limits and prohibitions.

Director Elizabeth Swanson delivers a poignant and warm tapestry of desire and frustration, moving a text-heavy piece with quick scene changes, and clever use of space… What this production portrays so clearly is the acute pain that comes from living, and loving, in a world that cannot imagine you existing in it… Swanson and her fantastic team tackle Donoghue’s questions head-on with fiery determination, and Chicago is all the warmer for it.


Lucas Garcia


…An intellectual accomplishment…I Know My Own Heart escapes its stuffy collars and labyrinthian complications of relationships altogether and depicts the joys and solidarity of 19th-century women enjoying each other’s company, having an eye only for the present.


Dan Jakes

Chicago Reader

…A simultaneously funny and tense look at how real life is conducted under the strict gaze of 19th-century moral code. The artistic team is intent on capturing rebellious moments that are disguised as innocent female friendship but are practically bursting with love, jealousy, and longing.

…Director Elizabeth Swanson pulls off the impressive feat of making the staging compelling and cohesive from every angle.


Sean Margaret Wagner

Theatre By Numbers

…An intimate and intense production…directed with care and feeling by Elizabeth Swanson.


Jonathan Abarbanel

Windy City Times

In a polished, surprisingly provocative production, Emma Donoghue’s US theatrical premiere has been beautifully directed in Chicago by Elizabeth Swanson and stunningly enacted by a cast of four talented young actresses.


Colin Douglas

Chicago Theatre Review

Creative Team

Playwright: Emma Donoghue
Director: Elizabeth Swanson
Producer: Paul Cook
Stage Manager: Corey Bradberry
Intimacy Choreographer: Sarah Scanlon
Assistant Director: Melanie Thompson
Lighting Designer: Blake Cordell
Prop Designer: Jonathan Berg-Einhorn
Sound Designer: Blake Cordell
Scenic Painter: Elyse Balogh
Dialect Coach: Vahishta Vafadari


Jessie Ellingsen – Nancy Brown
Eleanor Katz – Isabella (Tib) Norcliff
Lauren Grace Thompson – Marianne Lawton
Vahishta Vafadari – Anne Lister
Sonia Goldberg – u/s Anne, Tib
Liz Weiner – u/s Marianne, Nancy

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