HBO and BBC one are collaborating on Shibden Hall, a drama series created and written by Sally Wainwright of Happy Valley fame.
The series, based in 1832 Yorkshire, profiles Anne Lister. Lister was a landowner and outdoorswoman who lived the life of a daring socialite. A worldly woman, she used her inherited land (the eponymous Shibden Hall and her mines) and business acumen as a means of improving her station while avoiding the prejudice common to the early 1900s.
Shibden Hall, the estate, is a historic landmark in Yorkshire dating back to 1420. It is a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. In typical European fashion, however, its history runs deeper. Along with its architectural beauty and national park status goes Anne Lister, its most famous owner and resident.
The series takes place following Lister’s extensive travels and orienteering. After her return, Lady Lister requires a marriage. However, she was never one to follow the limitations placed on women of the time. Instead of a man, Lister plans to marry a rich woman.
It’s rare to find historical profiles of a highly exposed lesbian as well documented as Anne Lister’s. Amongst her diary entries regarding her travels, academic pursuits, and business endeavors are accounts of her relationships with women from classmates to associates. Though the series might explore a few of Lister’s pursuits, the primary love story will be based around Ann Walker.
Wainwright is extremely excited to profile a woman like Lister. She explained her passion project to The Hollywood Reporter. “Anne Lister is a gift to a dramatist. She is one of the most exuberant, thrilling and brilliant women in British history, and I can’t wait to celebrate her. Landowner, industrialist, traveler, mountaineer, scholar, would-be brain surgeon and prolific diarist, Anne returns from years of travel to her ancestral home, determined to restore it to its former glory, and determined to marry Ann Walker. It’s a beautifully rich, complicated, surprising love story. To bring Anne Lister to life on screen is the fulfillment of an ambition I’ve had for 20 years. Shibden Hall is a place I have known and loved since I was a child.”
For viewers on both sides of the pond, Lister and Shibden Hall are in good hands for reflecting that vision.
Filming will begin in Yorkshire this year. Stay tuned with mxdwn television for more information regarding Shibden Hall’s casting, crew, and release dates.