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    Gentleman Jack



    1832, Halifax

    Lack of courage on my part, not the reason I’ve paused my usual marching gate down the grassy hillside toward Shibden. Indeed, all who’ve met me presume my bravery inherent, like my other oddi…qualities, my boldness puts me square in the frame, after years of much success with many —now to pursue only the rarest of ladies —I believe, with an unshakeable devotion, the most beautiful of the fairer sex will be my wife.

    In Paris, in Rome, and in Spain —and most recently in Hastings —they kiss my lips with coy friendship and unmistakably so much more.

    Naught a fool and yet, I would be happier married by now, and landing anywhere but back in Halifax, if not for the parade of male suitors ceaselessly calling upon the ladies of my affection.


    CU Anne on hillside


    I have crashed back to earth not as dead as Icarus but undeniably scorched by the corona of the aristocracy. I’m not one of them, and they know it. My ownership of the four-hundred-year-old pile of a sprawling manse, Shibden Hall, I never tire of reminding those who might forget the history made here in 1415 when King Henry V frequently visited, before and after the Battle of Agincourt.

    Not to my astonishment, four-hundred-year-old English kings are no match for the nineteenth century where it’s gold and silver that is the only currency. My cleverness, my ancient lineage, my flawless politeness pattering from French to Latin and onto ancient Greek —should anyone try to test me.

    I easily outwit them all, and it’s where my training is critical. The lords and ladies, the marquis and marquise, and any baron who’s invited me to his shooting party, all get the last word with me and every confidence that they are right, lest I be thought of as vulgar. What I think of them I write in my diary. To date, I have eighteen bound volumes of my near-constant musings and travels.


    Staring ahead, I clear my mind of recent unpleasant events, realizing I’ve not stood still for this long since I thought I’d broken my right ulna. Bastard horse. So yes, It’s decided. I will march through the stone gate of Shibden, a returning Colonel Lister as if all my wars were won and no battle was too bruising upon me.

    I can always be counted upon to do it. I’ve never lived an ordinary life and won’t be starting one this afternoon.

    To that reality, I give the flaps of my great coat a good shaking and marching onward toward Shibden and my shabby little family I’m feeling a bit of myself returning again.

    It’s in my bloodlines. Never to be knocked down.


    Lister Front Door of Miss Walker's


    Three days later —

    On my way to Halifax, I take the Lightcliff Road, and while walking on the high ridge above the town  the estate of Miss Ann Walker comes into view.  I do feel the urge to call upon her.  However, I could just as quickly admire her modern gardens and turn east toward town skipping my unscheduled call, but she is a quiet and charming young lady, who, and if I’ve been told ten times it’s really more than twenty, that Miss Walker lives alone and hasn’t any intelligent callers.

    Her luck is about to change.  I ring the bell, and with the ivory tip of my walking stick, I adjust the brim of my hat to just above my arching eyebrows, a versatile expression I’ve perfected to mean many things.

    ’Aren’t you clever!’ They take a quick upshot with a flash of amusement in my eyes.

    ’You’re captivating my attention.’  Leaning in, I draw my eyebrows closer together in focused concentration. Ladies are stunned by this one, trained as they are to be ornamental flowers who rarely speak.

    The morning could not be more beautiful. The butler’s footsteps cross the marble. ”Miss Lister to see Miss Walker.” A quick handoff of hat, stick, and coat and I’m led into a gilded cage with the lovely Miss Walker trapped inside.

    What could I possibly do about that?


    HBO is the copyright holder of all images used in this work of fanfiction.


    1. mm says

      “……I’ve never lived an ordinary life and won’t be starting one this afternoon…….” WELL said!

      ah gentlemen Jack,,,,,,I am speechless, and you have my attention. this story has captivated me and you tell the tale well. thank you for allowing me to stand on the outside of her thoughts and see the world through her words and eyes. Me thinks the adventures along the way will be amusing, clever, funny and sad in its own way, but this is truly the story of a survivor and clearly, one who relishes challenging those who try to stand and step in her way.

      May we continue to follow you on this journey and this “unspoken” adventure? Thank you for taking the time to share this with us, and can’t wait to read more of this, Gentlemen Jack.

      • Blackbird says


        My thanks for your interesting comment and the points you made that Anne Lister’s adventure will be amusing, clever, funny and sad in their own way. I agree completely and will provide such.

        At some point, it will become obvious why I felt so compelled to dive into writing about this extraordinary character. Please, if you feel inclined I’d be interested to know your thoughts on her as a fascinating figure.

        My great thanks for your encouragement for me to write Gentleman Jack stories.

        Best regards,

          • Blackbird says

            You may find my new story “Apologia –Part One –The Attic of interest.

            I think it was late Sunday that I posted the aforementioned GENTLEMAN JACK story.

            Do you know the story about Anne trapped in the attic at the Manner House? It was a terrible punishment. Along the way, Anne educated herself about her sexuality by reading the ancient Greeks. In this story, I combined known parts of her life, her reading Plato and grappling with her sexual identity, and created an interesting fan story that I posted this earlier. You may enjoy it. It’s poignant and a few minutes to read.

              • Blackbird says

                Dumplin T,

                When you do get your commenting ability restored I hope to hear more of your thoughts on “Apologia –Part One –The Attic.” Even though it was a story set in one location it was a powerful experience for Anne Lister. Blackbird

    2. Dainty says

      This is a very interesting show on HBO on Sunday evenings. You can also get it on ROKU if you use one. She is a strong woman that knows her own mind and what she wants. I just wish she would ride a horse or have a carriage to use instead of walking everywhere she goes because it makes her too vulnerable, and too easy to be accosted which she was a show or two ago. She goes after whatever she wants and usually gets it. She does love women and has been bitterly disappointed, hopefully she will find her true love. Most of the women are afraid to follow thru with an affair with her. Lesbianism is rather knew to them and they aren’t financially independent so they think they need the protection and finances of a man to live. I find most of the men are just looking for someone with money if they don’t have their own. Very interesting show. Watch and enjoy.

      • Blackbird says


        Thank you so much for your comment and your explanation for those who may not be familiar with this television series. Personally, I feel that you will find the book that Anna Choma and Sally Wainwright published at the time Gentleman Jack began airing to be a wonderful book. You can find on Amazon and on Audible. The narrators in the Audible version, to me, add a lot to the storytelling. Very insightful quotes direct from Anne Lister’s diary are a terrific feature of the Gentleman Jack book. Additionally, Sally and Anna begin Anne’s story years before the show’s time period. In that way, we learn more about her early life.

        I hope you find the follow-up story I posted “The Wisdom of Watching” also to your liking.

        Best regards,

    3. SassyGran says

      Definitely interested BAT, lived and worked in Halifax for some years before retiring and love the place.

      Think the show is superb and season two is already booked. Sally Wainwright is a wonderful writer and , again, I love Last Tango in Halifax.

      So, yes please look forward to more,


      • Blackbird says

        Dear SassyGran,

        Although we have not corresponded in awhile, I want you to know that when I first watched Gentleman Jack and saw that it was set in Halifax I though of you! Plus, our mutual awe at Sally Wainwright’s talent also brought you to my mind. You will find the YouTube clip of the BFI channel interesting. It’s a fairly long and in-depth conversation with Suranne Jones and Sally Wainwright. I was enthralled while watching. SAG/AFTRA has a very similar panel conversation with these two ladies that I adore.

        Thank you for your comment and I hope you will enjoy the most recent Gentleman Jack story I posted yesterday. “The Wisdom of Watching” is its title.

        All the best,


    4. Blackbird says

      Delighted to know you will read my Gentleman Jack stories and hope you’ll enjoy how my imagination has taken off on the exploration of this interesting character., who in real life, more than two hundred years ago was truly legendary woman.

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