Until HBO/BBC's 2019 period drama Gentleman Jack, English landowner, world traveller, prolific diarist, and unapologetic lesbian Anne Lister was a well-kept secret. So was Ann Walker, the wealthy heiress who married her-in 1834. Now the true story of how these two daring souls rose above 19th century British social conventions is an inspiration to others yearning to be their most authentic selves.
The ground-breaking LGBT TV series-based on Lister's diaries-has electrified gay women worldwide and ignited an extraordinary passion among its fans to emulate and honour the infamous and little-known historical figure. Author Janet Lea has gathered 62 compelling stories from interviews with dozens of women in 16 countries to create an oral history of the global phenomenon she calls the "Gentleman Jack effect." Their first-person narratives detail the epic transformations motivated by the Anne's, from coming out and fully embracing their lesbian identity to displaying their newfound confidence in profound ways.
The Gentleman Jack Effect: Lessons in Breaking Rules and Living Out Loud introduces readers to:
Recruits in the volunteer army of "codebreakers" taking on the monumental task of transcribing the five million words of Lister's explicit diaries, including more than one million words written in her secret code
The homebodies who became world travellers as they set out on pilgrimages to walk, hike, and climb in Anne Lister's footsteps from the Yorkshire moors to the French Pyrenees and Swiss Alps, all the way to the Russian steppes
The introverts morphing into social media mavens and creating a global community of soul mates in the name of Gentleman Jack
The silent sufferers defying cultural stigmas to declare themselves, à la Anne Lister, "out"-loud, proud, and ready for life and love on their own terms
The Gentleman Jack Effect deftly chronicles how a prime time television drama spurred the creation of an international lesbian community, mobilized LGBTQ+ change agents and allies, sparked a movement to update queer history, and emboldened women, regardless of whom they love, to throw off society's restraints to live fearlessly, joyfully, and fully be themselves. Its timely lessons in risk-taking and self-acceptance are invaluable for every woman today.