So, I’m very much into books, movies, series and anime with strong female leads. It’s probably why I love the Miyazaki movies so much....
At any rate, recently I finished watching a series on Prime called Gentleman Jack. It takes place in the early 1800’s and focuses on a woman named Ann Lister who is the head of her family’s estate. She is extremely gregarious, intelligent, well read and precocious. She also happens to be a lesbian. Now, as you may imagine, being homosexual in that time period was NOT acceptable. Men would be hanged if found being intimate with another man. There were laws against such a thing. The rules were more lenient for women, but it simply was not something one spoke of.
Ann is an amazing character, being very strong-willed and independent. Underneath her tough exterior she is vulnerable, feeling like a “freak” in her own skin. Despite this, she is determined to live the life she wants and have a committed female companion whom she would “marry” by taking the sacrament together in church. Her heart is repeatedly broken, because her female lovers would eventually give in to societal expectations and marry a man for status and/or money and support.
Her struggle is real and I feel badly for her however, she is a bit cheeky and has a history of being a “player”, which is amusing. The juxtaposition is compelling.
If you’ve read my prior entries, you may have seen the those regarding “Collette”. It was a movie I’d seen and later found it to be based on the life of a true character. I had no idea it wasn’t fiction. My prior entries reveal the history based on the books I read regarding her life. As it happens, Colette was bisexual.
I mention this because, as it turns out, Ann Lister is also real! She kept a diary from 1804 until her death at age 49. The diary was published many many years later. The interesting part is, she wrote some excerpts in code, combing Greek with her own created language. The code was used to describe her intimate encounters, so if her diary was ever seen, it could not be interpreted. She did not use punctuation, capital letters or indicate the beginning or end of any sentences or paragraphs. Many people knew she was gay. She simply did not want to advertise.
I’ve obtained the book, based on her diary. The code was “cracked” by her last living relative; John Lister and his associate. They would not publish the interpretation, due to its potentially volatile reception. They gave the code to the head Librarian in their town (Halifax), where it remained locked in a safe for years.
Like Colette, Ann is a fantastic character with an intriguing history. If you’re not interested in the book, try the series. It’s fast-paced and leaves you wanting more.
There is only one season currently. I’m hoping for more.
Girl power!! 💪🏻
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