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What does Gentleman Jack mean? Anne Lister’s nickname explained

Suranne Jones stars in Gentleman Jack (Picture: BBC/Lookout Point/HBO/Aimee Spinks)

Gentleman Jack fans saw Anne Lister given a warning last weekend when an impressed resident used the show’s title name as an insult – but what does it mean?

Season two of the hit BBC show returned last month, set weeks after the union of Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) and Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle).

However, it’s not gone without any hiccups, considering the pair have had to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret from the prying eyes of Halifax.

Last week, fans saw Lister betray her wife with former flame Mariana Lawton (Lydia Leonard), as the businesswoman gave into temptation, despite previously promising her commitment to Walker.

Elsewhere, Lister returned home after her visit to finally tell her partner she loved her, which came just hours after her infidelity.

But at the end of the instalment, we saw the entrepreneur warned by a fellow resident, ‘watch out, Gentleman Jack.’

Here’s everything you need to know about what the programme’s famous title means.

What does Gentlemen Jack mean?

Lister is regarded as the ‘first modern lesbian’ (Picture: BBC/Lookout Point/HBO/Aimee Spinks)

The title is actually a reference to the name Lister was given during her life by her neighbours, who ridiculed her appearance and sexual preferences – with the ‘Gentleman’ referring to her masculine appearance and ‘Jack’ being another word for ‘lesbian’ in that era.

Series creator Sally Wainwright has previously explained the meaning behind the name, pointing out that in Yorkshire at that time it was far from complimentary. ‘It was either very vulgar language like that or sensitive posh language like “wintering in Rome”,’ she said.

Sally continued: ‘Lesbian’ wasn’t a word then, there was no community, there was no blueprint for what she was doing. She was just being herself because that’s what she says nature intended.

‘She could only love the fairer sex. And as you’re playing her, you just become aware that you have a right to be a person, you have a right to be who you are. Regardless of your sexuality.’

It also emerged the show was originally meant to be called Shibden, in reference to Lister’s famous estate Shibden Hall.

But Sally changed her mind after hearing folk duo O’Hooley and Tidow’s song of the same name, which she decided she wanted to use for the show, and led her to change the name.

What era is the show set in?

Season two of the programme takes place in 1834, meaning we’re firmly in the Regency era.

The show takes place across Yorkshire, mainly based in York and Halifax, where Lister’s home was.

Today Shibden is open to the public, so Gentleman Jack fans can see for themselves where she wrote her famous diaries.

Gentleman Jack continues tonight at 9pm on BBC One.


Credit: Original article published here.

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