Anne Lister has been honoured in the church where she wed, and her tales of passionate affairs are now the subject of a TV drama
She was a 19th-century pioneer in many fields: business, travel, mountaineering. But 178 years after her death, Anne Lister is best known for her string of female lovers, with their erotic encounters explicitly chronicled in a coded diary stretching to 27 volumes.
Last week, the woman often referred to as the first modern lesbian was honoured with a blue plaque at Holy Trinity church in Goodramgate, York. The medieval church had sealed Listers de facto marriage to a woman when the couple took communion at its altar.
The plaque, which celebrates a gender-nonconforming entrepreneur, is the first in the UK to be bordered with rainbow colours in recognition of lesbian, gay and trangender history.
Next year the BBC will screen an eight-part TV drama about Listers life and loves, written and directed by Sally Wainwright, whose credits include Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. The series, Gentleman Jack – Listers nickname, a result of her penchant for dark, masculine clothing – is being filmed in Yorkshire with a cast led by Suranne Jones and including Sophie Rundle and Timothy West.
Bringing Anne Lister to life with all her complexity, passion, brilliance and wit is an epic challenge, Wainwright told the Radio Times last year when the series was announced.