Gentleman Jack has become a hit with BBC viewers since the series premiered on Sunday, May 19. Based on the true story of Anne Lister (played by Suranne Jones), the series draws influence from her secret diaries in 19th-century England. Here’s all there is to know about the real-life events Gentleman Jack is based on.
Is Gentleman Jack based on a true story?
Gentleman Jack is based on a true story borne from Anne Lister’s secret diaries.
Lister kept diaries regarding her relationships with her secret female lovers as well as her efforts in reinstating her family home, Shibden Hall, back to notoriety.
BBC One viewers will be able to see the true story play out on-screen on a weekly basis every Sunday – HBO in the USA has already aired Gentleman Jack.
The series creator and writer Sally Wainwright told the BBC why she used the true story for the basis of her new show.
Wainwright began: “Anne Lister is a gift to a dramatist.”
The Gentleman Jack writer continued: “She is one of the most exuberant, thrilling and brilliant women in British history, and I can’t wait to celebrate her.
“Landowner, industrialist, traveler, mountaineer, scholar, would-be brain surgeon and prolific diarist, Anne returns from years of travel to her ancestral home, determined to restore it to its former glory, and determined to marry Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle).
“It’s a beautifully rich, complicated, surprising love story. To bring Anne Lister to life on-screen is the fulfillment of an ambition I’ve had for 20 years.
“Shibden Hall is a place I have known and loved since I was a child.
“I’m also delighted to be working with Faith Penhale again and the wonderful team at Lookout Point after our collaboration on To Walk Invisible, and of course thrilled to be working with the BBC and HBO.”
Lister’s diaries were mostly written in a secret code in order for her to keep her affairs hidden.
Executive Producer Faith Penhale said of the new series: “This is an extraordinary story about a remarkable woman.
“We’re in early 19th-century Yorkshire and here is an independent, land-owning industrialist recording in her diary her own civil partnership with a neighbouring heiress.
“I can’t wait for Sally to bring Anne Lister, with all her wit and warmth and unpredictability, to life for BBC One and HBO.
“And it’s a joy to be working together with Sally again after our wonderful collaboration on To Walk Invisible last year.”
Former Coronation Street and Doctor Foster star Jones takes on the lead roles of Lister in the BBC series.
Game of Thrones’ Gemma Whelan stars as Marian Lister in Gentleman Jack alongside Jones and Peaky Blinders actress Rundle.
Stephanie Cole takes on the role of Aunt Ann Walker while Thomas Howes impresses as John Booth.
Other actors to keep an eye out for in Gentleman Jack include:
- Rosie Cavaliero as Elizabeth Cordingley
- Gemma Jones as Aunt Anne Lister
- Timothy West as Jeremy Lister
- Jodhi May as Vere Hobart
- Tom Lewis as Thomas Snowden
- Peter Davison as William Priestley
- Jessica Baglow as Rachael Hemingway
Gentleman Jack continues at 9pm on Sunday on BBC One.
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