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Gentleman Jack: the tragic true story of the real-life Anne Lister 

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Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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Gentleman Jack season two sees the marriage between Anne Lister and Ann Walker, and is based on the famous diaries of the real-life Anne, who wrote extensively about her lesbian love affairs, as well as her interests as a landlord and business owner. But what happened to Anne Lister in real life? Get the details here… 

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Anne and Ann did indeed 'marry', although it was illegal at the time and their relationship was kept secret. However, they received a blessing during a Holy Communion at York’s Holy Trinity Church, as shown in the season one finale. The pair went on to live at Shibden Hall, and the pair traveled together.

WATCH: Suranne Jones reveals behind-the-scenes look at Gentlemen Jack series two

However, tragedy struck Anne after she contracted a fever while visiting Georgia. Aged just 49, she passed away in September 1840, leaving Ann, who had accompanied her on the trip, to travel back to the UK with her body. She was buried in Halifax Minster. 

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Following her wife’s death, Ann was declared insane and died at her childhood home in 1854, aged 50, with the death certificate revealing that her cause of death was 'congestion of the brain'.  

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Biographer Anne Choma wrote about the situation in her book Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister, explaining: "Ann Walker returned [Anne's] body to Shibden in a process that would take six months, the last act of devotion to a woman who had altered the course of her life. 

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Ann travelled back to the UK with Anne's body

"Ann Walker continued to live at Shibden. Sadly, her mental health deteriorated in the period following Anne's death, and following concerns for her safety she was removed from the hall a few years later. Staying for a time in an institution in York, she eventually returned to live at Cliff Hill in Lightcliffe."

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