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Born into the wrong world

“Gentleman Jack,” season 1, episode 2. Copyright, HBO, BBC: Fair use, not monetized.

The second episode of “Gentleman Jack” contains one of the most brilliant, beautiful and touching scenes I can remember. Other than the recitation of the priest, there is not even any dialogue. The scene’s entire meaning is conveyed by the sequence of expressions on Anne Lister’s face. (Anne Lister is played by Suranne Jones.) Anne, with a broken heart, has changed her mind at the last moment and has decided to go down to London for the wedding of her former lover.

I know very little about Anne Lister. One probably would have to read her diaries (as the producers certainly did) to guess what might be going through her mind. But what I see in this scene is an acute awareness of being born into the wrong world; the knowledge that celebrations always will be for someone else, never for her; a stoic attitude and a resolve not to be crushed; and a determination to seize as much from life as she can from a world that isn’t ready for her. Every word of the priest is like being shot with an arrow.

“Gentleman Jack” is available for streaming at HBO Max.


  1. JamesM wrote:

    If you’ve not read about the ladies of Llangollen, it’s quite interesting. Anne Lister visited them. Their home is a museum now, Plas Newydd in Wales.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi James: Thanks… I was not aware of the ladies of Llangollen. It has been years since I’ve been in Wales…

    Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 7:26 am | Permalink

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