This richly illustrated short, extracted from the official book The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, focuses on the characters individually, examining their motivations, their actions and the inspirations behind them. Forwarded by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. When Cora’s mother, Martha Levinson, comes to stay, it’s clear that she is more than a match for Violet. Equally confident in their age, status and belief that their way is the right way, the two could easily quarrel. Intransigent, intractable Violet is the definitive dowager. Largely based on Julian Fellowes’s own great-aunt, Isie Stephenson, ‘in whom there was a mix of severity and a kind heart’, Violet represents the last of an era; one of the few remaining Victorians who believed absolutely in the necessity of moral exactitude, the importance of family and the oblige of the noblesse. Martha may have once been awed by the English upper classes (this, after all, was why she brought her daughter over to be presented at the London Season), but she welcomes the post-war changes that are being brought to England, even if they seem slower in coming to Downton Abbey. Shirley MacLaine, the actress who plays Martha, believes that her character’s attitude comes not so much from her money as her politics: ‘Her confidence comes from being a democratic American – she is so centred in her fairness and considers America to be fair, and tradition is not fair.’ Purchase this ebook short and the others in the series to get closer still to the characters at Downton Abbey and to understand more about their social context – from the changing role of the aristocracy to fashion and beauty, American Anglophiles, the Suffragette movement and life below stairs in a big country house like Downton. Search for The Chronicles of Downton Abbey to purchase all shorts combined.
Dowager Countess of Grantham and Mrs Isidore Levinson