The author Jessica Fellowes, niece of the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, was not only privy to the inside scoop of the production of the series but she is also an author and journalist and well qualified to write the book. Equally important is the photographer Nick Briggs, who captured awe inspiring images of the production that would transport Downton fans back into memorable scenes. Creator Julian Fellowes rightfully opens the book with a brief introduction, offering us insights.
The publisher promoted the book as a “lavish look at the real world–both the secret history and the behind-the-scenes drama–of the spellbinding Emmy Award-winning Masterpiece TV series Downton Abbey.” This was no idle boast. This 303 page book is packed with splendid photographs from cover to cover not just of the cast, the production, its historical connections, but also of the location: Highclere Castle, the grand Jacobethan-style manor in Hampshire where the series was filmed.
Divided into nine chapters: Family Life; Society; Change; Life in Service; Style; House & Estate; Romance; War; and Behind the Scenes, each chapter was written in context to the characters and their roles. I particularly enjoyed reading the insights from Susannah Buxton, the costume designer, and especially admired her cleverness. Her knowledge and influence is remarkable in terms of the clothing and the historical accounts that linked the series to actual period personalities such as Daisy, Countess of Warwick, and Mary Leiter, an American buccaneer that inspired Julian Fellowes to create the character of Cora Levinson who married Robert, the future Earl of Grantham in 1889.
For those who have watched Downton Abbey and are in total ‘downton’ withdrawal, I’d suggests this beautiful coffee table-sized book about the series. Anyone with interest about the Edwardian era will also enjoy reading this book for days and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
(Featured image: Amazon UK)