Anne Lister: who was Gentleman Jack diarist played by Suranne Jones - and where is her house Shibden Hall?

The convention-busting 19th century diarist is known as the first modern lesbian

The BBC One drama Gentleman Jack follows Anne Lister, a Yorkshire diarist known as the UK’s first modern lesbian.

The finale of the first season saw Lister tie the knot with her lover Ann Walker in an unofficial ceremony at the Holy Trinity Church in York.

The real-life Church became known as the birthplace of lesbian marriage in the UK because of the event.

But more is known about Lister than her love life - she was an important part of her community and left her mark when she died.

Who was the real Anne Lister? Here is everything you need to know about the pioneering figure.

Who was Anne Lister?

Anne Lister was born in 1791 in Halifax to Jeremy Lister, a veteran of the American Revolution, having served as a British officer, and his wife Rebecca Battle.

Lister had four brothers and one sister, but it was only herself and her younger sister, Marian, who survived past 20 years of age.

Anne’s family owned the large Tudor-style estate, Shibden Hall in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

When Anne inherited the estate she was able to grow in wealth and status as a businesswoman in a time where women were mostly confined to a life of domesticity.

In today’s money, Lister would have been a millionaire.

Anne Lister married Ann Walker at Holy Trinity Church in York
Anne Lister married Ann Walker at Holy Trinity Church in York
Anne Lister married Ann Walker at Holy Trinity Church in York

What did Anne Lister write in her diaries?

Most of what is known about Lister and her relationships has been gleaned through her diaries.

She began writing diaries when she was 15, and they contain more than 4 million words about her life.

The most notorious parts of her diaries contain her affairs with numerous women, including her first love Eliza Raine, and her wife Ann Walker.

Some parts of her diaries were so explicit that they were at first considered to be a hoax by historians, but they have since been verified.

The more explicit content was written in a code devised by Anne, based on a combination of Greek and algebra.

Anne’s descendant, John Lister cracked the code but kept the diaries hidden because as a gay man himself, he did not want to put himself in the spotlight over such a scandal.

The diaries were discovered again in the 1980s by researcher Helena Whitbread who realised how significant they were and shared them with the world.

Was Anne Lister’s marriage to Ann Walker real?

While the couple’s marriage was not officially recognised by law, Anne and Ann took communion together and exchanged vows and rings.

There is a blue plaque at the church commemorating the event reads states that Lister: “Celebrated marital commitment, without legal recognition, to Ann Walker in this church.”

The couple lived together at Shibden Hall as wife and wife and wife for the rest of Anne’s life.

How did Anne Lister die?

Lister was a prolific traveller, having the wealth to do so, and wrote 14 volumes of travel notes in addition to her diaries.

It was on one foray into Georgia, part of the Russian Empire at the time, that Anne met her untimely end, aged 49, from a fever believed to have been caused by an insect sting.

When is the Gentleman Jack season 2 on TV?

The second season of Gentleman Jack will begin airing on BBC One on 10 April at 9pm with future episodes being released weekly.

Season one is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now, and season two episodes will be available to watch on iPlayer shortly after they are first published.