Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sense and Sensibility: Nancy or Anne?


Miss Steele, Lucy Steele’s older sister, is quite the funny character, with her constant talk of “beaux” and her very quotable line from the 2008 mini-series: “It just popped out!” ---But what is her first name? 

I had thought it was Anne from watching BBC’s 2008 version. But in the book, she is usually called Nancy when she is not referred to as “Miss Steele”. But I found one occurrence where Lucy calls her Anne. Here are two parts of the book:

(Chapter 37, Mrs. Jennings speaking to Elinor) “Well, and so this was kept a great secret, for fear of Mrs. Ferrars, and neither she nor your brother or sister suspected a word of the matter,--till this very morning. Poor Nancy, who, you know, is a well-meaning creature, but no conjurer, popt it all out.”…“The carriage was a the door ready to take my poor cousins away…poor Lucy in such a condition…she could hardly walk; and Nancy, she was almost as bad.”

(Chapter 38 - a letter from Lucy to Elinor) “Poor Anne has much to blame for what she did, but she did it for the best, so I say nothing.”


It quite baffled me, until Miss Laurie from Old-Fashioned Charm commented on this post shortly after I published it, and explained it all. Here is some of what she said:

"Nancy is a nickname for Anne. My favorite name etymology site is BehindTheName.com and they say Nancy is "a medieval diminutive of Annis (a Medieval form of Agnes), though since the 18th century it has been a diminutive of Anne. It is now usually regarded as an independent name." Nicknames like this were in very commonly use during Jane Austen's day (like Elizabeth Bennet being called Lizzy and Eliza). The elder Miss Steele would have been Christened Anne Steele but because she was a country lass from Plymouth her family chose to call her Nancy. My opinions is that if she had been from a higher class family she probably would have been constantly referred to as Anne. Nicknames were also used to distinguish children from family members with the same name (aunts & uncles, parents, cousins, grandparents). "

She also made a very informative post about this on her blog all about names, Name Enthusiast.
Click here to read it.

7 comments:

Elegance of Fashion said...

That always puzzled me! I looked at Wikipedia, and it said that the name Nancy came from the name Anna. Wikipedia isn't too good of a source, but it might point you in the direction of where to research. It's possible that Anne came from Nancy. :-)

History Girl said...

Hello!!!
Its Tasha!!!
Do you know how to put thoughs
"I am Marianne Dashwood" Button on the blog??? I really want to do it on mine but i do not know how.

~Tasha~

Miss Laurie said...

Yep, that's right. Nancy is a nickname for Anne. My favorite name etymology site is BehindTheName.com and they say Nancy is "a medieval diminutive of Annis (a Medieval form of Agnes), though since the 18th century it has been a diminutive of Anne. It is now usually regarded as an independent name." Nicknames like this were in very commonly use during Jane Austen's day (like Elizabeth Bennet being called Lizzy and Eliza). The elder Miss Steele would have been Christened Anne Steele but because she was a country lass from Plymouth her family chose to call her Nancy. My opinions is that if she had been from a higher class family she probably would have been constantly referred to as Anne. Nicknames were also used to distinguish children from family members with the same name (aunts & uncles, parents, cousins, grandparents).
Jane Austen herself was called "Jenny" in her early years (her father calls his daughters Jenny & Cassie in a letter). The folks from the British Isles seem very fond of nicknames and they are the originations or Bill being used as a nickname for William, Jack a nickname for John, Ned/Neddy as nicknames for Edward, Sally a nickname for Sarah and Molly/Peggy nicknames for Mary. Nicknames were (as they still are) an idividual things, you'll notice that Anne Elliot is never called Nancy. But Miss Frances Price is always called Fanny. I'm sorry for rambling a bit but this subject is of great interest to me. One of the many reasons I love Jane Austen is that she choses such lovely names, they are real names of real people not made up or fanciful in any way. I do wish she had given Colonel Brandon a first name though. :)

~Miss Laurie
Old-Fashioned Charm

Melody said...

That is very useful information, Miss Laurie, thank you! Lizzy and Eliza for Elizabeth, Fanny for Frances are easy to figure out, but Nancy for Anne? Seems rather an oddity in this day and age! haha ;-) Thanks again!

Tasha, did you take the quiz? If not, it should take you to the quiz, and whatever you get as a result, it will have that button and the "HTML Box" underneath it. Copy and paste that weird HTML code thing, and then go to "design" on the blog. Wherever you want to put it, you put "add gadget"...the way I did it was I chose to put a note, and then I went to the HTML option (where you write things in the box) and pasted the code...and it magically appeared on my blog! haha ;-)

History Girl said...

Thank you soooooooo much Melody!!!
I figured it out!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!
Email me!!! I would love to be friends!!!!

Tasha

Miss Dashwood said...

Imagine if Lady Catherine's daughter had been called Nancy de Bourgh... heeheehee. Totally does not fit.

Tracy Clapsaddle said...

Thanks! Have been boggled by this for a long time.

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