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Wednesday, April 16

The Anna Chancellor/Jane Austen Connection

One of the biggest surprises I ran across this year, but no big secret, was when I learned that Anna Chancellor, Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, 1995 (at left in image), and "Duckface" in Four Weddings and a Funeral, was a descendant of Jane Austen.

I heard Anna speak of the connection in BBC's The Real Jane Austen (2002), which she hosted. IMBd mentions: "Her eight-times great aunt is author Jane Austen...Fanny Rice was herself the granddaughter maternally of one Edward Knight, of Chawton, Hants, and Godmersham, Kent, whose younger sister just happened to be one Jane Austen, novelist."

Fanny's mother was Elizabeth Rice (1800-1884), sister to Fanny Knight, Jane Austen's favorite niece, and here lies the connection between Anna Chancellor and Jane Austen. When I learned of the association, I realized that Anna has the same striking eyes as those that stare out of 19th century Austen portraits. I was thinking particularly of Cassandra's watercolour of Jane, and the painting of Jane's brother, Francis.

Anna's career has been steady and successful since her break out role in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Continuing the Six Degrees of Austen Adaptation Separation associations, Anna and Hugh Laurie starred in this 2003 film (see image at right). Hugh portrayed an unforgettable Mr. Palmer in 1996's Sense and Sensibility.

Learn more about Anna in these links:
Posted by Ms. Place


Anonymous said...

Anna Chancellor is certainly not a descendant of Jane Austen. Jane Austen had no children, and thus had no descendants.

Emma said...

Kathlen B is incorrect. A direct descendant is a child, grandchild, great-grandchild etc and a descendant is someone of the same family who is in a following generation but not your own child, grandchild etc. Anna Chancellor is a direct descendant of a sibling of Jane Austen therefore whilst it is true to say that Anna is not a direct descendant of Jane she is, nevertheless, a descendant.