“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.

4 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!)



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