Anne Lister is one of the Regency era's most fascinating characters, even if her name is not as well known as Elizabeth Wadsworth, another female diarist of the period. That is because up until this century, Lister was the type of historical figure left out of the mainstream narrative and out-and-proud lesbian who defied social conventions, including taking a wife. (For example, UNESCO didn't add Lister's diaries to the Memory of the World Programme until 2011.) HBO's series on Lister is a fascinating drama named Gentleman Jack, after the public's derogatory nickname for her. However, it hasn't caught the public's attention the way, say, Bridgerton or Sanditon has.
Still, the series, conceived of and written by Sally Wainwright, is perhaps the most daring Regency series of this new era. Lister's five-million-word diary collection intricately chronicles her day-to-day life, not just as an LGBTQ+ public figure but as part of the British landowner class. The eight-episode series uses them to dive into a history that even Bridgerton has thus far relegated to vague bohemian subplots. Season 1 focused on Lister's meeting and love affair with her eventual wife Anne Walker, ending with their version of marriage, taking the sacrament together at that Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York. (The church is now considered the birthplace of marriage equality in the U.K.)
Season 2's first trailer focused mainly on the love affair between Lister and Walker. Lister used Walker's fortune to upgrade the family's ancestral home of Shibden Hall, including the addition of a Gothic tower to function as Lister's private library. The two also traveled a lot, taking a honeymoon to France in 1834 and then a cross-continental journey starting in 1839 that ended at the Caucus Mountains. As two women who lived openly in marriage together, they were regarded as a curiosity everywhere they went and minor celebrities. But the new Season 2 trailer suggests it will not just revel in Lister and Walker's love story but delve into the difficulties both women faced for their choices.
Here's the official synopsis for Gentleman Jack Season 2:
Anne Lister's entrepreneurial spirit frightens the locals as much as her unconventional love life, and, with her Halifax hometown on the brink of revolution, her refusal to keep a low profile becomes provocative and dangerous.
Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey) plays Lister, with Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders) as Walker. Most of the Season 1 cast returns, including Gemma Whelan (Killing Eve), Gemma Jones (Sense & Sensibility), Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax), and Lydia Leonard (Ten Percent). Other costars include Joanna Scanlan (The Larkins), Katherine Kelly (Happy Valley), Amelia Bullmore (Vienna Blood), Jodhi May (The Witcher), Derek Riddell (The Missing), Stephanie Cole (Doc Martin), Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Vincent Franklin (Bodyguard), Shaun Dooley (Grantchester), Rosie Cavaliero (Unforgotten), Joe Armstrong (The Hollow Crown), Anthony Flanagan (Around the World in 80 Days), and George Costigan (Line of Duty).
Gentleman Jack Season 2 premieres on HBO and streams on HBO Max starting Sunday, April 25, 2022, at 9 p.m. ET, following a weekly release schedule.