Laura Elizabeth Carmichael was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England, the daughter of Sarah, a radiographer, and Andy Carmichael, a software consultant. She has two sisters: Amy, who works for a software start-up company, and Olivia, a charity fundraiser with the NHS.
One of her paternal great-grandfathers was aviator Norman Blackburn. Carmichael was educated at Shirley Junior School, The Mountbatten School, and Peter Symonds College. She trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2007.
Between 2010 and 2015 Carmichael played Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey, a part which brought her worldwide recognition.
Other television roles include parts in The Heart of Thomas Hardy, and End of Our Street.
In 2011 she appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and she played Henriette in the 2014 film of Madame Bovary.
Carmichael plays Steph in the comedy film Burn, Burn, Burn, which was released in October 2015.
She is set to star in A United Kingdom as Muriel Williams, and Marcella as Maddy Stevenson, both during 2016.
Laura Carmichael lives in Camden, north London. She is close friends with Michelle Dockery, who played her sister Mary in Downton Abbey.
Prior to landing the role of Lady Edith in early 2010, Carmichael had worked as a secretary in a doctor's surgery.