Charleston UK and Charleston SC epitomize the theory of six degrees of separation. Charles Anson and Juliet Nicolson, who live close to Charleston, Sussex, have unexpected local connections. Charles Anson, former British Diplomat and Press Secretary to the Queen, is a descendant of Admiral George Anson, who was stationed in Charleston, SC, in the 1720s. The Admiral was a popular figure in 1720s Charleston, where he acquired land, built a home and sold plots forming the residential area of Ansonborough. He subsequently became First Lord of the Admirality and was known as the father of the modern British Navy when it was at its most powerful.
Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of author and gardener Vita Sackville-West (to whom Virginia Woolf’s gender shifting novel, Orlando, was dedicated) also has an unusual link to Charleston in SC. The son of two of her grandmother’s servants at Sissinghurst Castle resided in Charleston, SC in great luxury and style in the 1960s. Having lived as a man for thirty years, he was one of the first to undergo gender re-assignment in 1968, with financial help provided by the actress Margaret Rutherford and the heiress Isabel Whitney. On Whitney’s death, Dawn Pepita, as the former Gordon was now known, inherited a fortune and bought an 1840s mansion in Charleston’s Ansonborough district, where she wed her much younger butler in the first legal inter-racial marriage in South Carolina, raised a daughter, published books and scandalized local society.
Charles Anson and Juliet Nicolson will elaborate on their intriguing ties with Charleston, SC.