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Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,413 ratings  ·  325 reviews
The official companion book to the HBO series Gentleman Jack created by Sally Wainwright and starring Suranne Jones

In 1834, Anne Lister made history by celebrating and recording the first ever known marriage to another woman. This is her remarkable, true story.

Anne Lister was extraordinary. Fearless, charismatic and determined to explore her lesbian sexuality, she forged h
Paperback, 258 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Penguin Books (first published 2019)
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C.E. Case This book summarizes the period of Anne Lister's life during the show. There are some diary entries, but not a ton. …moreThis book summarizes the period of Anne Lister's life during the show. There are some diary entries, but not a ton. (less)

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This book is a rather interesting and somewhat valuable insight into the life of Anne Lister. The book is split into chapters, with some rather tasty diary entries throughout. It reminded me of a Jane Austen novel, in a way, or, that might be just me.

I am aware of the TV series called "Gentleman Jack" and I've heard that this book follows it pretty well. I'm not sure that I'll ever get around to watching it, though.

Anne Lister was a phenomenon. She was way ahead of her time, and I love that. S
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I can’t help but love this woman and her story <3
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As reading the diaries themselves (as edited by Helena Whitbread) is a bit too intensive for me right now, I was happy to find this book. It provides background for the tv series and has selected some of the most interesting diary passages. I was especially fascinated by how Anne used the diaries as a ways of reasoning with herself. I had to laugh quite a couple of times at Anne writing one thing, and subsequently doing something that decidely illustrated the opposite. I also enjoyed how reading ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I’m thoroughly enjoying the BBC drama of ‘Gentleman Jack’ I felt compelled to read this companion to the series and I’m really glad I did. It was an absolutely fascinating read which gave more insight into the characters and the times although the TV series is extremely accurate and very well done.

Actress Suranne Jones who plays GJ sums her up well - ‘She’s a bit Marmite, this one’ but love her or hate her Anne Lister certainly made her mark. I loved that AL defied the conventions of the tim
Anne Choma’s Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister is an excellent companion to the HBO and BBC adaptation. Supplementary and expansive, there is no hint of any partiality in this fascinating biography that succinctly tells not only of Lister’s liaisons with a lot of women but also her insatiable hunger for education despite women’s almost lack of rights then. Her detailed diary entries are not only a time capsule on 1800s lesbianism but an intricate look at mechanics of society.

Anne Lister of Sh
Celia T
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, biography
Very pleasantly surprised to discover how closely the TV series sticks to the primary sources!
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Anne Lister is a 19th century lesbian who managed an estate, wooed women, eschewed corsets and other restrictive clothing as much as possible, and kept a detailed journal. This historical account includes many excerpts from recently transcribed and decoded journals and letters. I took great joy in the euphemisms in particular. The author does not shy away from Anne's less positive traits such as merciless tenants dealings, but celebrates her achievements and verve, correcting some inaccuracies h ...more
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This was such a fun read! I've watched the TV show a couple of times and really enjoyed it, so when I saw that there's a biography that ties into the show, I had to pick it up. No regrets there. It starts off by going through a brief introduction of Anne's life leading up to the show, then it sets off from there. I didn't feel like I was reading a summary of each episode (which is how I felt with The Crown Volume 2), but like I was actually getting the historical basis for it and a grasp of what ...more
Decent, but disappointingly narrow in scope - only covers around 2 years of Anne's life, almost solely focused on her relationship with Ann Walker. Good starting point for someone who wants to discover more after watching the show, but wouldn't recommend to someone looking for a proper biography. ...more
Anne Lister. . .Gentleman Jack is dedicated in her diary keeping, and hunting for love. True love. This woman is new to me, and the life she led was extraordinary and off the beaten track. She was fiercely Anne Lister - and kept careful track of her time spent on this earth, and in self-preservation created a code to keep track of her sexual expressions, mild and wild. She was curious and inquisitive and held back no experiences in satisfying her need to seek out answers as it related to her bod ...more
What a remarkable woman, single minded, confident, in an age when women had virtually no rights and there wasn't a word for lesbian, she was way ahead of her time.

I wasn't aware of her until the show aired but she is fascinating as are her secret diaries written in her special 'crypt hand'.

I listened to an audio copy of the book which was excellent.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, nonfiction, 2019
This was quite narrow in scope and as such wouldn't really work on its own (or probably even for someone reading before seeing the show as opposed to after), but it does what it says on the tin quite well with the exception of a very rushed ending. An insightful read that made me appreciate the show even more! ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t generally buy books which are heralded as a movie or tv tie in. But this companion to a forthcoming tv production about a period in Anne Lister’s life is a compelling read. I’ve read a couple of books about Anne Lister which cover the whole of her life in greater depth. Gentleman Jack is informed, well written and examines a crucial couple of years in the life and times of this extraordinary lady.

It’s fitting that, at last, she’s receiving recognition. Her incredible diaries amount to ov
Emilia Barnes
Great if you have seen the TV show and if you haven't. I love reading biographies of people who did not necessarily shake the fate of the world, wage wars or anything like that, but led remarkable lives nonetheless.

I was surprised to find how faithful the TV show is to her actual life, considering that life is rarely that entertaining. Kudos to the screenwriter, who makes Anne Lister so real, true to what she feels like as a person in her diaries.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! I don't know much about queer history or the important people within it, so I'd never heard of Anne Lister until the recent HBO series. This book only covers a few years of her life and focuses on her relationship with Ann Walker. In fact, the series follows it quite well with some added story-lines about the tenants and servants. That's not a surprise since it seems like Choma and Sally Wainwright (the series's writer/director) are friends and that this show was a long-time-coming ...more
Andrew Howdle
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book does what it says: ties in with the TV programme. But there are noticeable shifts in emphasis. Whereas the TV programme, thanks to the first rate acting of Suranne Jones, suggested a radical and charismatic figure, the book presents a much more conservative identity. Anne Choma places Anne Lister within a Gothic framework-- she was fascinated by dissections and autopsies. And though Anne Lister did project (without question) a daring sexual identity, her world views were orthodox Tory. ...more
Apr 02, 2019 added it
This companion to the BBC/HBO series is thorough and well researched. I’m sure many who enjoyed the series, and want more, will be glad that this is available.
Jocelyn H
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this! This is a companion to the BBC/HBO show Gentleman Jack. It is written by the historian who consulted on the show. The book covers roughly the same time period as Gentleman Jack, 1832-1834, when Anne is almost 41 to almost 43, though with some detail about other times in Anne Lister’s life, before and after this period. It goes into more detail and adds context to the tv series, and includes many direct quotes and sections from Anne Lister’s diaries. I found it very moving to ...more
Ellena Downes
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
The subject matter was very interesting but not very well written. The quotes from Anne Lister's diary we often repeated within a couple of pages. I would have liked more of the journal pieces but maybe that's for another book. I haven't seen the dramatization of this yet but I'm sure with Sally Wainwright involved it will be excellent quality. May be this book could have done with more of her influence. ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I was a little disappointed with this one, to be honest. I finished watching Gentleman Jack and now found myself fascinated by Anne Lister, and I was very excited to read more about her life beyond the scopes of the TV show. However, this book doesn't really go much beyond that, and only covers about two years of Anne's life which are mostly also portrayed in the TV series. This is a shame to me, as there is so much more of her life to explore.

That aside, this book does give fascinating new insi
Lauren James
I loved the TV series, and this covers the same time period of the show, out of the many, many volumes in her diaries. It's a nice companion, going into more detail about the scenes of the show. It surprised me just how much the show kept true to real life - I found her honest conversations with her aunt particularly moving. ...more
C.E. Case
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clearly and concisely written, an easy-to-read balance of diary entries and summary. Quick, fun read.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a good companion to the HBO/BBC adaptation! I absolutely love Anne Lister- a strong, sexy, masculine, with beautiful femine undertones woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind in a very narrow minded society. Her personality left me in a giddy stupor! The characters are interesting, no need for skipping pages, because everyone's part benefits the whole story. Also, the dialogs are very natural so, they are believable. It is funny, entertaining by every moment, touching and we can learn a th ...more
This was a pretty good novel, but a little dry, being it was diary writings, with lots of added explanations to move things along.
Anne Lister is a fascinating woman, and I wish there were more diary posts and less summations. She sounds like someone I’d have been glad to know.
The author Anne Choma and Sally Wainwright were the narrators. I wish they’d used Wainwright more. She had a splendid accent that I adore.
This is a short novel, but some listening to it on audiobook might find it a little
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
After enjoying the HBO series, like many, I followed up by reading the book. The author sumates and excerpts the historic diaries of a pioneering lesbian before such identities were well-known. From the small incidents on her property, to her romances and search for a suitable life partner, Lister's opinionated, often conservative and snobbish beliefs are countered by her then-radical desire to live a life with a woman. ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring to live with great self-esteem and positively.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm completely fascinated by Anne Lister... what a remarkable woman. ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, lgbt, 2020
This book is pitched as a tie-in for the BBC/HBO tv fictional dramatisation of a select few years of Anne Lister's life (which was taken as the real life material to inspire this series) but I honestly think that the reference, and relevance, of the tv series to this book is so minute - save for some of the introduction and closing sections - that it works perfectly well as bit of, even, introductory non-fiction for anyone curious about the real life happenings of Anne Lister's very dramatic and ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me want to rewatch the show again cause the show is just so top-tier. The book is good but I liked watching the tv show better. This book did make me want to travel to Shibden Hall one day to see it and to see Anne's lasting legacy there.

This book is definitely more in detail about Anne's life before the events of the show.

I know this book is a biography so they wouldn't have mentioned it but I really want to know how Anne's journals were cracked.

I can't believe how acc
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“As Anne grew, so did her ambition to travel. Her dream destinations became further flung and more exotic. It did not satisfy her to leave England for a week or two; throughout her adult life she spent months at a time away from home, including periods of residence in Paris. Having also explored Italy, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland, in the summer of 1833 Scandinavia and the Baltics were in Anne’s sights. After months of indecision, she finally ‘determined to go north’ on 17th July that year, resolving to end her journey in Denmark.” 0 likes
“Capable, clever and with a natural gift for land and estate management, Anne had been the natural choice to take on the huge task of running Shibden. Not only had she impressed Uncle James with her abilities to deal with the renewal of leases and misbehaving tenants, he also knew that she would never marry and therefore the estate would not be broken up. In their conversations together, Anne had left him under no illusion that her emotional and sexual feelings for other women precluded the possibility of her ever entering into a marriage with a man, in which she stood to lose all that was hers. It was another four decades, on the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act in 1870 (thirty years after Anne’s death), before women would be able to keep hold of and inherit property following marriage. So, remarkable as it may seem to us now, it was Anne Lister’s lesbian sexuality (then with no name or legal recognition), which played a crucial role in helping her to keep control of her wealth at a time when it was thought that it was impossible for a woman to do so. That Uncle James, in 1826, seemed to understand and recognise this is even more extraordinary.” 0 likes
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