“Gentleman Jack” on TV

Since I don’t like in the UK or subscribe to HBO I am waiting to actually see Gentleman Jack, the new series that stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister of Shibden Hall. Friends in the UK are giving the series-so-far enthusiastic “thumbs up”.

Anne and Ann-Gentleman Jack

On the Ladies of Llangollen website, from which this blog evolved (begun in 2006), I had had excerpts from Anne Lister’s meeting with Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler. Anne is not currently listed as a “visitor” to Plas Newydd, but is found under the Timeline for 1820-1824. You, of course, can read about Anne’s visit to Llangollen in Helena Whitbread‘s publication: I Know My Own Heart (1992), republished as The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, after the 2010 TV film came out.

Other publications of the Lister diaries include:

  • No Priest But Love: The Journals of Anne Lister from 1824-1826, Helena Whitbread
  • Female Fortune: Land, Gender, and Authority, by Jill Liddington
  • Nature’s Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire, by Jill Liddington
  • for other items, see Amazon
  • more podcasts were noted on Ladies of Llangollen (from 2017)
  • more on Anne Lister on my companion blog Regency Reads (2012)
  • Revealing Anne Lister of Shibden Hall on my main blog Two Teens in the Time of Austen (2012)

The TV series has its own “tie-in” publications. Now in paperback is the same-titled biography, Gentleman Jack, by Angela Steidele. This is a well-translated work (by Katy Derbyshire) from the German, which covers all of Anne’s lovers. NOT, evidently, a source for the TV series, new copies of the book come with a photograph of actress Suranne Jones in a different pose (away from the camera), while the tie-ins have photos of her looking at the camera.

SAG-AFTRA Gentleman Jack

Steidele appears in the first of two new YouTube offerings:

Jones and Wainwright are on camera for bit more than 44 minutes, taking a few questions from the audience at the end. Wainwright’s writing credits feature series many will recognize. It was with a nod of “yeap, know that well” when I heard her talk of wanting to direct what she wrote — respecting a previous series, ITV declined because she hadn’t directed. The usual Catch-22, as we often hear. Can’t ‘do’ because you don’t have experience, yet can’t get experience because, well, you have no experience.

SAG-AFTRA Suranne_Sally

What caught my ear, though, was Wainwright’s description of working with the original Anne Lister diaries: “Absorb,” is the word she used. She describes the act of transcribing, as well as the after-fact absorption of the material that then must be done.

IMDB (Internet Movie Database) is indicating that there is already a Series 2 in the future for Gentleman Jack.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose McMahon
    Jun 02, 2019 @ 17:55:18

    I’ve found it rather disappointing. Anne’s story is interesting enough without the contrived subplots of opening a coal mine and a mysterious rider. The over-arch asides to the camera are disturbingly reminiscent of the dramatic cliche of a mustachioed, rakish, seducer. I would have liked to have seen a more complex Anne, given that there is plenty of material about her early disappointments and frustrations in her relationships and ambitions.


    • Janeite Kelly
      Jun 02, 2019 @ 20:34:11

      Nice to hear from you, Rose.

      You made me laugh, with the idea of the “stage melodrama’ seducer. (There used to be a summertime “amusement” park that offered the melodrama at which audience were supposed to _boo_ and _hiss_.)

      Most comments are laudatory; others, like you, mention the asides being annoying to them. I did, though, like Wainwright’s comment that such were meant to bring the immediacy of the _reading_ the diary which she felt while at the archive.

      The new series does seem to concentrate on Ann Walker, rather than be an all-encompassing biographical series.

      Not sure what you mean about the “mysterious rider”; but she did mine her land – she needed income. Must admit, it’s the material beyond her loves that interests me – I wish more of the journals would be published; rather like The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Parson or The Diaries of Parson Woodforde.

      Had rather thought “shame” when Angela Steidele said they become boring after a handful of pages. But I did find both the podcast and the interview interesting.

      Are you still tuning in, or have you tuned out?



  2. Rose McMahon
    Jul 04, 2019 @ 11:49:06

    The script includes a storyline about a mysterious, reckless rider, and also brings in one concerning the amusingly bumpkinised below stairs folk at Shibden Hall.

    I am definitely turned off.

    I wonder if this is of interest? The Ladies’ posset cups are displayed in the British Museum now. Years ago, I had to make a special appointment to see them.



    • Janeite Kelly
      Jul 04, 2019 @ 17:48:02

      I’ve still not seen much of the show – will have to wait for US television to pick it up, I guess. I’ve seen the lead actress (Suranne Jones) in so many things over the years that I would like to take a look. I’ve read the biography of the same title, which was “good” — though I still hope for something from Helena Whitbread!

      Thanks though, Rose, for the article – and for notice of the Ladies of Llangollen’s cups & saucers (though no photo in the article – boo!)



  3. setinthepast
    Feb 12, 2020 @ 06:33:15

    I thought the TV series was very good, but it only covered a short period of her life – although a second series is being filmed now.


    • Janeite Kelly
      Feb 12, 2020 @ 10:31:17

      I haven’t seen it (not sure IF it’s scheduled for the US television), but have heard good things about the show. And heard, as you have, that they will produce another series (not a surprise, if such a hit…).

      I have read the (published) original diaries; have followed many GOOD shows that Suranne Jones appears in; and always look forward to more about Anne Lister’s writings, mainly because she left so much that has gone untapped. Diaries are fascinating. But Lister’s must be daunting to anyone working with them, because of being so great in number. I bought the (translated) biography, now seen as a bit of a “tie-in” (Jones appears on the cover), by Angela Steidele. My one complaint was she didn’t seem to work with the original LATER-years diaries, so later chapters suffered. I am still hoping for more from Helene Whitbread, the original editor of the Lister diaries.

      Thanks for commenting, and visiting the blog. Kelly


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