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The World of Downton Abbey

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  5,644 Ratings  ·  648 Reviews
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
April 1912. The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear that it seems as if the way it represents will last for another thou
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2011)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

As a huge fan of the Downton Abbey TV series, I was thrilled to find this book beckoning to me from the library’s front desk display.

It’s a lovely book with gorgeous photos and historical information about British life during the World War I era. It shows the contrasts between the wealthy Crawley family and the servants below stairs and goes into detail about the servants’ duties and the hierarchy within the staff. There are also tidbits about the people and places that
Dec 18, 2011 Traci rated it really liked it
Normally I don't read TV companions like this, but I had to make an exception for Downton Abbey, and I'm glad I did. This show is like crack for anybody who enjoys period dramas and is also an excellent beginning series for those who aren't so into this kind of stuff (I swear that my husband is anticipating the second series more than me). The book has a beautiful layout and contains enough researched information from the time period (the series starts in 1912... two years in George V's reign) t ...more
Read by Elizabeth McGovern

BLURB: Downton Abbey' has captured the imagination of the nation. Written by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes, the show has become the benchmark for quality drama and a commentary on all things British.

'Downton Abbey' portrays a world of elegance and decadence, a world of duty and obedience, and a world of romance and rivalry. This companion book, full of rich historical detail, takes fans deeper into that period than ever before.

Step inside one of the most beautifu
Feb 20, 2012 Heidi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
Yes, I love the TV series, but that's not the reason I gave this book five stars. Not only does it give background on the major characters but it delves into history and customs as well. The author, niece of the series creator, gives us the opportunity to peek into the lives of not just the characters we have come to love but also real-life people who lived in the English country homes, both the servants and the homeowners. The photographs beginning chapter one are a good reminder of who does wh ...more
Lisa Vegan
Apr 19, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all fans of the show who’ve seen seasons 1 & 2 but preferably before viewing season 3
Recommended to Lisa by: Lance Greenfield
This is an excellent companion book to the television show with the same title.

There is much about the show, including many terrific photos, behind the scenes information about settings and characters, etc. etc.

There is also a lot of non-fiction historical information about the period.

I enjoyed it all.

It’s a beautiful coffee table type book, with quite a bit of substance.

I kind of rushed through the last couple chapters (unfortunately) because it’s due back at the library and there is a queue
Oct 04, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it

This attractive book practically jumped off the library shelf into my arms. I could not resist the temptation to peruse these pages after savoring each episode of the companion Masterpiece presentation.
This is a lovely book, with fine, detailed photography. It was a pleasure poring over the pictures and reviewing the stories of each character, each episode and each place. The clarity of the photos seemed to again bring alive all those people and the residen
Jan 29, 2017 Fortunr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very nice, informative, beautifully illustrated book (with exquisite pictures), about the TV series "Downtown Abbey" that I so loved watching.
This book is not just about the TV series, but it also an endearing portray of the social, aesthetic and cultural environment of the time (end of the 19th century - beginning of the 20th century, up to the post-WWI years), period when the British aristocracy saw their traditional world deeply challenged, and progressively and irretrievably transformed.
Jun 21, 2014 Connie rated it it was amazing
I was impressed with both the gorgeous color photographs and the written content in this companion book to the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey." The plot is not revealed, except in very general terms, so the book is not a spoiler for the reader who has not seen all the episodes. It gives insight into the lives of both the wealthy Crawleys and their servants in Yorkshire in 1912. The oldest daughters were presented to Society in the hopes of making a good match in the first few episodes. Ther ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
If you loved the series, you should also enjoy this in-depth companion book. Filled with behind-the-scenes info., a historical perspective of the time period, and some gorgeous photos, I sat and read this from cover to cover in one afternoon.

1 star deducted because some parts seemed a bit disorganized in the presentation. Otherwise, great stuff for those of us going through Downton Abbey withdrawal symptons.

Dec 18, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
In December, when all the great gift books are released, I usually purchase myself a book that will be a delight for years to come. This year I struck gold with The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellows. With the broadcast of season two beginning on January 8th on PBS I eagerly devoured the book which is filled with information on both the production and the history of the time depicted. With chapters devoted to subjects like “Life in Service” and “House and Estate” readers gain insight into ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of DA looking for behind-the-scenes tidbits and real-world history to compliment the series
Hoping to check this out again as I did not finish it before some other eager DA fan placed a hold on it at the library. It's absolutely gorgeous, though--lots of great photography from the miniseries, behind-the-scenes, and vintage ephemera. The "world" of Downton Abbey is explored both in terms of the real world in which the miniseries is set as well as in the behind-the-scenes world of the production. I wanted a bit more in some cases, but all in all it's entertaining and informative.

Luke Devenish
Dec 27, 2011 Luke Devenish rated it it was amazing
I'm a tragic fan of Downton. TRAGIC. Not ashamed of it either! I've got the soundtrack as well. I play it on high rotation when walking my dogs. My expanding waistline was already making me feel like stiff-lipped Lord Grantham getting the bad news about his war effort, so the music leaves me pretty much stinking of noblesse oblige. Therefore, I bloody loved this book. If I could have taken it out walking with me too, I would have. Common sense and a fear of limb fractures stopped me. This book w ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Staci rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-reads
Why I wanted to read it: Because I am hopelessly addicted to the series and can not get enough about this time period, location, and these fascinating people!

Source: Public Library

The pictures are beautiful and this is an absolutely gorgeous book to behold! But even more important than stunning eye candy, this book is filled with wonderful historical stories, ephemera from the time period, and suggestions for further reading and viewing. Let's take a look inside, shall we?

Family Life- the author
Jan 20, 2012 Laurel rated it it was amazing
Season two of Downton Abbey has concluded and we are left in limbo until it returns next Fall in the UK and January 2013 in the US.

*deep sigh*

For those like myself who, have watched and re-watched every blessed minute, yet, just can’t get enough of the award winning ITV/PBS television mini-series Downton Abbey and are in total Downton withdrawal, may I suggests this stunning full-color coffee table-sized book about the series, THE WORLD OF DOWNTON ABBEY?

The publisher touts it as a “lavish look
Feb 28, 2012 Tatiana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media-tie-in
It goes without saying that The World of Downton Abbey is for fans of the ITV and PBS hit period-drama, Downton Abbey, now two series in and counting. The behind-the-drama companion gave historical background to the comings and goings of the characters, both upstairs and downstairs. I like to think that I have a working comprehension of this period in British history (mostly due to my infatuation with Titanic years ago), but one can always gain more knowledge.

Everything from family life to life
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
This companion to Downton Abbey(seasons one and two) is filled with such lush and arresting visuals I had to do more than merely write a review! I hope this little video I made of the chapter pages and included flip-through help illustrate the gorgeous artwork, stunning layout, and massive amount of information to be absorbed in these pages.

Fans of the ITV/PBS miniseries will delight in learning more about the Edwardian time period, the daily routines and lifestyles of aristocrats and servants,
Terri Lynn
Dec 09, 2013 Terri Lynn rated it it was amazing
This book is delicious. I enjoyed it as I would a fine dessert. For those who love Downton Abbey as I do, this book is a must-read.

There is a nice mix of information about the history of the time and place in which Downton Abbey is set, juicy gossip about the royalty and aristocrats of the time, fascinating information in great detail about the lives of both the aristocratic families and the servants. Far from boring, this book is a real treat and it comes with beautiful full color photos of th
Nov 01, 2011 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Downton Abbey
Pretty is not a word I'd usually describe a book with, but this is a pretty, pretty book, with gorgeous pictures.
It puts the tv series in historical context, explaning how the aristocrats lived, how life in service was, and the social and political background.
As I tend to be kind of obsessive when I really like a show, I knew some of this stuff already, but it was an interesting read nonetheless, with insights as to how Julian Fellowes came up with some of the ideas for the plot.
I found particul
Mar 25, 2012 Kiran rated it did not like it
I would only recommend this book for diehard Downton Abbey fans, although I think these fans are smart enough to avoid such ploys to capitalize on the show's popularity. The majority of the pages are covered in beautiful TV stills, but the accompanying text is redundant and does nothing to expand on what is already gleaned from the show. I would have loved to learn more about the real-life inspirations behind the show's setting and characters, but such information was few and far between, making ...more
Beth Knight
Dec 22, 2011 Beth Knight rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
I usually wouldn't read a companion book to a television show but I'm so obsessed with the series Downton Abbey I had to make an exception. While the writing itself was nothing exceptional the pictures were gorgeous. I enjoyed looking at the detail of all the costumes and it was fun learning all the details about how the show is put together. There was even some history about life during the Edwardian period so it wasn't just about the show. Overall, the book was very enjoyable and I'd recommend ...more
Rebecca Huston
If you are a fan of the BBC series Downton Abbey you deserve to buy this book for yourself. Mouthwatering photos, lots of background information on the backstory of the characters and the time and place.

For the longer review, please go here:
Carrie Turansky
May 06, 2012 Carrie Turansky rated it it was amazing
This was a fun read...especially for all the Downton Abbey fans. Very interesting look at the time period, the characters, and program.
Feb 02, 2012 Joy rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully photographed companion book to the series.
Jan 18, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Downton Abbey fans that want to know the history of the time period.
Shelves: nonfiction, 4-star
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In the popular series Downton Abbey, Lord Grantham remarked,"My dear fellow. We all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished."

I am glad this companion book to the series was published so I could better understand the culture and history of England.

This book contains beautiful pictures from the series and the actual time period, as well as, chapters on:
Family Life
Life in Service
House and Estate
Behind the Scenes

I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys
Oct 06, 2015 Emm rated it it was ok
Being such a fan of the show, I'm loath to have to give this such a low rating. It wasn't that it was bad. It was very informative, actually. On the pro side, I especially liked the section on costume design and I enjoyed reading some of the cast commentary on the characters I've come to know and love. I also liked the bits where they explored the life of a typical servant and typical aristocrat during this time period and how that inspired the show. It is chock full of beautiful photos from beh ...more
A 3.5 star read. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into life in Britain in the times in which Downton Abbey is set. It is a beautifully presented book, with full page photos from the series, or from the filming of it. It is the kind of book that you can read at the same time as something else and just dip into bits and pieces at a time. I read it at the same time as The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy and that added to my experience as they are set in similar time-frames (The Forsyte Saga starts ...more
Jan 17, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.

As a fan of the show Downton Abbey I was excited to learn some new information about season 1 and gain some insight into season 2. Instead what I received was both information about series 1 and 2 and an exciting history lesson on the early 20th century.

I was really surprised at how much depth and history the novel went into regarding the life the characters would have lived. Topics included Society, War, Romance, Fashion, Life in Service etc.

It provides information
Aug 19, 2012 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
This is a gorgeous book full of beautiful color photographs so I can't imagine it on a small black and white eReader screen. It doesn't recount the plot line, but what faithful viewer needs that? Instead it gives background information about individual characters that isn't explicitly spelled out in the show, and that's fascinating. It also provides historical and sociological context for the early modern era surrounding WWI that would be interesting anyway, but is especially intriguing because ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Melwasul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comment commencer ma chronique sans vous dire que cet ouvrage est une petite merveille. Une pépite pour les fans de Downton Abbey, célèbre série britannique au succès planétaire, mais pas que. En plus d’être une mine d’informations sur la série, c’est un livre d’histoire sur l’Angleterre du début du 20ème siècle, sur ses coutumes, son monde, ses gens de chaque côté de la barrière et les bouleversements qui l’ont changée pour en faire ce qu’Elle est aujourd’hui. Pour vous dire, mon grand-père qui ...more
Alice Beyrent
Jan 24, 2014 Alice Beyrent rated it really liked it
For fans of Downton Abbey, this is a really interesting read. Chock full of photographs from the series along with interesting facts. There are also photographs of artifacts from the Edwardian period. Jessica Fellowes has done a good job of researching the historical context of the Edwardian period so that what is seen in the series makes sense in terms of the background of history. The book is divided into chapters about family life, society, life in service, style, house and estate, and war. T ...more
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  • Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
  • The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago
  • Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real Life of Masters and Their Servants from the Victorian Era to the Second World War
  • Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts, Season One
  • Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant
  • The Real Life Women of Downton Abbey
  • To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
  • The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
  • The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
  • Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"
  • In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines
  • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm
  • The Making of Pride and Prejudice (BBC)
  • Beyond Downton Abbey
  • The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England
  • What the Butler Winked At: Being the Life and Adventures of Eric Horne, Butler
  • Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff

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“Violet, the Dowager Countess: ‘I have plenty of friends I don’t like.” 30 likes
“Lord Grantham: ‘My dear fellow. We all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished.” 26 likes
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