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Summary

The extraordinary life of history's first modern lesbian who inspired the television series Gentleman Jack.

Anne Lister's journals were so shocking that the first person to crack their secret code hid them behind a fake panel in his ancestral home. Anne Lister was a Regency landowner, an intrepid world traveller...and an unabashed lover of other women.  

In this bold new biography, prizewinning author Angela Steidele uses the diaries to create a portrait of Anne Lister as we've never seen her before: a woman in some ways very much of her time and in others far ahead of it. 

Anne Lister recorded everything from the most intimate details of her numerous liaisons through to her plans to make her fortune by exploiting the coal seams under her family estate in Halifax and her reaction to the Peterloo massacre. 

She conducted a love life of labyrinthine complexity, all while searching for a girlfriend who could provide her with both financial security and true love. Anne Lister's rich and unconventional life is now the subject of the major BBC TV drama series Gentleman Jack.

©2019 Angela Steidele (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Gentleman Jack

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An extraordinary life

I enjoyed the TV series based on the life of Anne Lister and was interested to learn more about her. Her life was even more colourful and adventurous than portrayed on screen. The TV series rather air-brushed out just how energetic she was in seducing other women, though snobbish over their social position and when looking for a more permanent relationship assessing their wealth as an important factor. I am surprised, though, just how many of her friends and acquaintances were brave enough to admit that they were willing partners. Anne Lister in real life was evidently selfish, self-regarding and money-grubbing. Her manipulation of her last lover, Ann Walker, to get at her wealth was worthy of the worst kind of fortune hunter. However, she was also brave to be true to her nature. I was astonished at the adventurous journeys she, and latterly also Ann Walker, undertook. Journeys taking months of arduous travel to far-flung countries with few local amenities.
Altogether a fascinating life and insight into 19th century society.
The narrator is generally very good but has some idiosyncratic pronunciations of foreign language names and words.

10 people found this helpful

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Well written and narrated

This book brings the life of Anne Lister alive.The narrator was perfect and was easy to listen too
With a chronological account of her unorthodox exploits, alongside extracts from her diaries this is much easier to read than a direct translation of her diaries which can be repetitive and long winded,
I Would definitely recommend as it gives an honest portrayal of Anne Lister and her life, the good ,the bad and yes at times the ugly.
I definitely came to my own conclusion as to her character which surprised me. I wonder what others will think ?

8 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

Really interesting to get the insight, perception and see the imagination of AL.
I found the information about AL's funds, child labour, classism and the judgement ofother cultures really interesting. It shows the accepted attitudes of the time and provides more context for the inequities of wealth and power in English society today.
The history of the transcription and retelling of AL's diaries is a brilliant example of how the past is skewed by the latest historians, with the full disclosure if AL's relationships being censored until fairly recently.

6 people found this helpful

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Very interesting

I probably would not have bothered with this book, if I hadn’t watched the tv series. But I’m glad I did.

There is much more to Ann Lister than the series would have us believe. The traveling must have been so uncomfortable, yet it was a huge part of her life. And it is very well described.

Worth reading or in my case listening to.

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A modern approach to sexuality

I would recommend this book. It is excellently read by Heather Peace. Ann Lister was a bit repellent and very self absorbed. Her predatory behaviour is surprising, but one can’t help but admire her determination.

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gentlemen jack

loved it
saw the series
tried not to compare
can be difficult at times
loved the narrator
overall enjoyed

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent presentation

Heather Peace is sublime as a narrator.
I didn’t recognise her voice most of the time.
Subtle changes in tone. Well done

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wonderfully egotistical

Bought on a whim having enjoyed the recent tv series of the same name. I wonder how she would have felt with social media of today, I feel she would have been a great presence. really enjoyable listen, Heather peace did a wonderful job.

3 people found this helpful

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Feminism before Feminism

Anne Lister's diaries detail a honest and ultimately obsessive observation of her life and many loves. The book is a fascinating account about a woman who didn't let being a woman stop her!

2 people found this helpful

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Ann Lister

A very interesting social history viewed through the diaries of Ann Lister. although, in my opinion, she comes across as a truly unlikable character. She was ahead of her time and courageous, as her travels around Europe and Russia show. She was also determined to live a life of adventure and freedom. However, her diaries, honest to a fault, show her to be a callous and unfaithful lover; a social climber and all round selfish person. I listened to this after seeing the TV series. I thoroughly enjoyed the series but it didn't show her true character. She came across as quirky and a bit naughty; listening to the diaries gives more depth.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rose Swartz
  • 29-05-22

Well researched, thorough and entertaining

I read the reviews about this before I bought and saw that some listeners find the author critical and clinical. I did not share this experience. You can tell the author has some critiques of Anne Lister’s politics and opinions (rightly so, she supported prison torture and child labor) but overall it’s obvious that the author was enraptured by her as well. She balances the hard truths with the “fun stuff” well and gives a fully formed picture of the humanness of Anne Lister. She did not romanticize her or sugar coat her, and I appreciate this book for that! It doesn’t make me love Anne Lister less at all, just gives me a deeper view of who she was.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-05-22

If you love the show wait or don’t bother to read this book!!!

I thought since I read China’s book that this would be a nice one to follow up! But I dread that I listened to it and bought it! You get a sense by how it is written that author didn’t like Ann Lister. It shows in the story telling! I should have read reviews before I wasted my money - in reviews and scholar statements that content was never properly researched- if it is fiction state it as such

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  • Deb Fischer
  • 19-09-21

Clinical

Anne Lister, An extraordinary woman of her time. Brilliant, articulate, brave, and proud. Too bad this book reduces this wonderful woman’s detailed diaries of her life to a dry clinical reading with no feeling or fire.

1 person found this helpful

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  • E.S. Fernsby
  • 13-06-20

Excellent Read, and performance

Absolutely captivating. would recommend thos biography to anyone who love detailed life stories. Lister was a very interestly progressive woman of her day.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Thamus J. Morgan
  • 06-08-22

absolutely fantastic!

I could not put this audio book down. I wished I had tripped across Ann Lister sooner in my life. She brought clarity to my questioning and scattered mind. Thank you Ann Lister for finding your way into my life.

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  • Cheryl
  • 31-07-22

Anne Lister Intelligent, driven, and self-centered

Today (as in 1830), a man with these traits would likely be in a position of power, and a woman possessing these traits would be branded by society - whether she was LGBT or not. Being a "butch" lesbian would make it so much worse. How little our society has changed. We embrace the concepts of LGBT, but we do not want them in positions of power, being their authentic selves because it makes us uncomfortable. As a lesbian, I know how much self-confidence it takes to stand up in a society that wants to erase you and to say, "I have a right to be here and to love who I love."
As a human, I can see that Anne was a narcissist and embraced hypergamy to/beyond the point of being a gold digger. But this unyielding mindset led to a life of extraordinary travel, learning, and sexual fulfillment on her terms. What might she have accomplished in this day and age?
Watch the TV show "Gentleman Jack" - listen to the companion biography, then listen to this one.

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  • Yanely
  • 08-05-22

Blown away

Beautiful work! I loved the writing and narration, keeps the pace well with sharing Lister’s journals. If you’re interested in learning about Anne Lister definitely check this out!

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  • Theresa
  • 08-03-22

Well done book, good narration

I wanted to like Anne. She was after all ahead of her time in so many ways. By the end of the book however I found that I despised the woman. She epitomized in a woman everything women hate in some men.
She was a callous and careless lover of women who used and abused them, not by beating them but stealing from those who loved her and being flagrantly irresponsible about passing on VD to whomever her fancy alighted on.
Not different than some men of the same era perhaps, but still, as a woman I expected better of her.
Anne proves that equality of the sexes is not always what we wish it to be.

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  • Shopbymail
  • 03-12-21

Fascinating

Once I got over reading a secret diary, I got caught up in the story of remarkable women who dared to be themselves. And the adventures they had during their epic travels. Great narration.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 25-06-21

Great Audio Read

The narrator was excellent! Love the story. Love Heather's voice! Love her Yorkshire accent. Perfect!