Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
World’s leading family history resource finds common ancestor between the Duchess of Cambridge and the legendary Pride and Prejudice author on bi-centennial of Sense and Sensibility publication

Sydney, Australia, (June 29, 2011) – What do the royal newlyweds and one of the best-loved English-speaking novelists who penned classics such as Sense and Sensibility have in common? Today, Australia’s number one family history website , Ancestry.com.au can reveal the answer: the former Catherine Middleton and the classic author Jane Austen are related.

Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, and Austen, best known for her novels focusing on lower gentry or middle class women and their romantic interactions with men of higher rank and wealth, are related through their common ancestor Henry Percy, the 2nd Earl of Northumberland. Percy, who lived in the first half of the 15th century, is Kate’s 16th great-grandfather and Jane Austen’s 10th great-grandfather, making them 11th cousins, six times removed.

Though her work touched on many topics, from economics to equality, Jane Austen is largely considered to be the pioneer of the romantic fiction genre. Her novels are known for their biting social commentary and romance between the classes, while her heroines are renowned for their spirit, intelligence and wit.

Born in 1775, it has been exactly 200 years since Jane Austen published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility (1811). Written with both comedy and emotional depth, Sense and Sensibility is considered to be one of the greatest romantic dramas ever written, demonstrating why Jane Austen remains one of our most popular authors almost 200 years after her death. The 1995 film version of the novel earned Emma Thompson, who authored the screenplay and stared in the film, an Academy Award.

“From one of the world’s most newest, but nevertheless most popular public figures to one of the world’s best-loved authors, it’s exciting to find an ancestral link between the Duchess of Cambridge and Jane Austen. In many ways, Catherine Middleton is a modern Jane Austen heroine; a middle class girl who falls in love and marries the future King of England,” said Brad Argent, content director, Ancestry.com.au.

“Jane Austen may have written about living happily-ever-after but it seems Catherine has found a real non-fiction hero to spend her life with, far past the epilogue.”

Royal Connections
Henry Percy, the ancestor who connects Catherine and Jane, was born in 1392 at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. Percy was a 2nd great-grandson of King Edward III – meaning that King Edward is also a distant great-grandfather of Catherine Middleton.

Spending his youth in Scotland, because his father and grandfather were killed fighting against King Henry IV of England, in his early twenties, Percy reconciled with King Henry V (after Henry IV’s death) and was tasked with protecting the Scottish border. He was killed in 1455 during the first battle of the Wars of the Roses, at St. Albans, England. The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars fought over the English throne.


Sisters and Friends
Throughout her life, Jane Austen’s best friend and strongest supporter was her elder sister Cassandra. In fact, when Cassandra was sent off to boarding school at age 10 in 1783, eight-year-old Jane refused to be separated from her sister, demanding to go also.

The close relationship between the Austen sisters is easily comparable to the bond Catherine shares with her younger sister Pippa, who served as Catherine’s maid of honor at her recent wedding, attended the same boarding school as her older sister and then followed her to Scotland to college.

While all her novels conclude with a happy marriage between the heroine and her hero, neither Jane nor Cassandra ever married. There is however every expectation that Pippa will follow her sister’s example and marry her own prince charming.

Fame and Fortune
As the Royal Couple’s upcoming visit to North America will undoubtedly demonstrate, the celebrity and fame surrounding Catherine has only increased since her wedding.

However, in contrast to Catherine, Austen found little fame or fortune during her lifetime, with recognition of her significant talents and status as a great author arriving in the years following her death. Today, numerous sequels to her works have been penned, various film adaptations of her novels produced, and a new generation of female readers often speculating on their romantic endeavours, asking themselves “What would Jane do?”

To find out more about your family’s heritage, please visit www.ancestry.com.au

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Christine Law

P: P: 02 8281 3256
M: M: +61 414 810 894

Keywords

Ancestry, Kate Middleton, Jane Austen

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