A statue of Gentleman Jack has been installed in her hometown of Halifax, West Yorkshire.
The bronze statue depicts 19th century diarist, Anne Lister, who was also known as Gentleman Jack, and was unveiled by Suranne Jones who played her in the BBC drama, and Sally Wainwright who created the show.
The £25,000 installation created by Diane Lawrenson, has been named ‘Contemplation’ and is display at Piece Hall.
Jones said that she believes that the statue being out in public is significant: “She has to gender-shift, in a way, and is hiding in plain sight. She is constantly facing challenges every single day of how people look at her and view her. And now in 2021 she’s sat here in the middle of the Piece Hall, where everyone comes to have their family days out. I think that’s what’s important about this specific piece of art.”
Jones explained how proud she was of her connection to Lister:
“To be able to be on the BBC at nine o’clock on a Sunday night, with this character in full glory, has been amazing, and also fans have welcomed me as a straight actor to play Anne Lister and I enjoy being an ally – I enjoy the responsibility.
“It’s one of the hardest roles I’ve had to play, because the language is really tough and I’m in almost every scene. I’m fiercely proud of what we’ve created here. It just speaks to visibility that there’s Shibden Hall [Lister’s family home in Halifax, which is open to the public] and now this beautiful statue, which is just glorious. I’m just very proud to be part of it.
“I think it’s really sensitive but robust, and I love the way it’s deconstructed, where it’s just slightly abstract. It’s kind of rough and ready but it’s really alive.”
“I hope [local people] will talk about Anne Lister, about who she was and why she’s important. I hope they’ll see this image of her, which is a very intelligent, very athletic woman, and it will inspire them.
“But I have no doubt people will put top hats and red noses on her at Christmas, they’ll be sitting on her and putting their arms round her and all sorts.”