Thursday, December 13, 2012

Q&A with Jessica Fellowes, author of The Chronicles of Downton Abbey

Today I'm very excited to features a quick Q & A with Jessica Fellows, author of The Chronicles of Downton Abbey! This show basically rocks my world, and I'm very excited for the third season!!! Here's what Jessica had to say....

Edwardian fashion has been resurrected on runways and in style magazines. What else has surprised you about the popularity of the show?

I think no one could have anticipated the way it's become such a cultural reference point not just in Britain and America but all over the world. 'Dowager gems' is a well-known Twitter hashtag. I don't think Julian could have predicted that!

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes' great-aunt Isie is the model for Violet Grantham. Are any of the other characters based on anyone notable or otherwise?

As any writer does, he has drawn on different people he has met or known over the years. O'Brien is based on a particularly mean lady's maid that used to work for a cousin of his grandfather. She was, he says, "as polite as courtier, but she had a black heart, cold and manipulative", driving away all her mistress's friends and family until she alone ruled their Knightsbridge house. Others, are taken more lightly from people he has known – Thomas is based on a dresser from his theatre days; Carson on a wonderful butler, Arthur Inch, who was an advisor on Gosford Park.

What is your favorite episode or scene from the first two seasons of Downton Abbey and why?

Ooh, that's not easy to answer! I'm a blubber – I cry at the readthrough, when I see it on the television, and then again when watching it on DVD! I think the war scenes were striking, and I was pleased, if that's the right word, that current generations would realise what our grandparents and great-grandparents had gone through. But who can possibly forget the final scene of the second series – Matthew and Mary, kissing and happy at last, as the snow fell around them. Aah!

What was the greatest challenge you faced when writing this book? What was the most fun?

The greatest challenge was probably the timing. Both books were not started until January and were at the printers by July. Given that we had to interview actors and production, go on set, research the period, source the images – photography had to be done alongside the filming – as well as actually write it, this was something of a challenge, but one I was happy to rise to. The most fun for me was definitely the research – it's a period that has always fascinated me, so to have the excuse to immerse myself in it completely was wonderful.

Which character do you think has evolved the most during the course of the first two seasons?

Lady Edith for me is the most interesting. She, like a lot of women at that time, was brought up to expect a certain kind of life, which was completely turned inside out by the war. She thought that all her prayers would be answered in the shape of a husband – marriage was what gave Edwardian aristocratic women freedom, independence and a certain kind of power. Without that, she has to find her own way and it's not as if everyone then moves with the times – nearly everything she chooses to do has to be fought for. It's a lesson to us now to be thankful of what we have and to use it in the best way possible. 


The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, carefully pieced together at the heart and hearth of the ancestral home of the Crawleys, takes us deeper into the story of every important member of the Downton estate. This gorgeous, entirely new book focuses on each character individually, examining their motivations, their actions, and the inspirations behind them. An evocative combination of story, history, and behind-the-scenes drama, it will bring fans even closer to the secret, beating heart of the house.

About the authors:

JESSICA FELLOWES is the New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of The World of Downton Abbey. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Country Life, she has also been a columnist for the London Paper. Jessica also writes for the Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Weekend, The Lady and Sunday Times Style, and lives with her family in London.

MATTHEW STURGIS is a writer and critic who has written for Harpers & Queen, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Independent on Sunday. He is the author of Passionate Attitudes: the English Decadence of the 1890s and the highly-praised Aubrey Beardsley. He lives in London.

JULIAN FELLOWES is the creator, writer, and executor producer of Downton Abbey, which won nine Emmy Awards and the Golden Globe for best mini-series. Previously, he won the Academy Award® for best original screenplay for Gosford Park, and wrote the bestselling novels Snobs and Past Imperfect. A member of the House of Lords, he lives with his wife and son in London and Dorset, England.

1 comment:

  1. Just started watching this show a couple of months back and absolutely FELL IN LOVE WITH IT!!!

    It's interesting to see where the characters are based off and I definitely agree that Edith has grown quite a bit in the span of the series.

    Really need to get my hands on a copy of this book, great interview! :)