With Gentleman Jack coming to HBO on April 22, 2019, I thought I’d take a more in-depth look at the first filmed version of Anne Lister’s life, 2010’s The Secret Diaries of Anne Lister. Both take as their source material the coded diaries written by Anne Lister, who lived from April 3, 1791, to September 22, 1840, and is most noted for declaring in her writings that she only loved women and had multiple affairs with other women.
Admittedly, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison since the new production is a six-part miniseries and the older one is a 92-minute TV film. The plot lines of each biography are quite different. Secret Diaries covers the time from about 1816, when Anne’s girlfriend Mariana marries a wealthy gentleman, until around 1832 or shortly after, because that’s when Anne meets and falls in love with local heiress Ann Walker. Gentleman Jack begins in 1832 with Anne meeting Ann Walker and is entirely about their affair.
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