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The World of Downton Abbey

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  6,017 ratings  ·  672 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
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,017 ratings  ·  672 reviews

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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 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
I really enjoyed this beautiful, gorgeous hardcover book full of glossy, colourful photos, and interesting tidbits of information! There was a bit of everything in this wonderful book; behind-the-scenes look, background information as to the setting and locations, inspirations behind the characters, fascinating historical detail, a look at the costumes and the process of building the characters' wardrobes (my inner costume designer was #happy), and much, much more!

It goes without saying that if
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was a beautiful and a rather fascinating trip down memory lane. When Downton Abbey finished airing after the sixth series, truth be told, I was utterly devastated. No, really. I think I nearly shed a tear. I had to really rethink how I was going to go about my life, with no Dame Maggie Smith as "Violet Crawley" in it.

I haven't given this book five stars just because it's Downton Abbey. I've given it a high rating because not only does this book give you interesting snippets of informa
Feb 20, 2012 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
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
Lisa Vegan
Apr 19, 2012 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 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
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must read for any Downton Abbey fan.
Mar 13, 2012 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.

Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
There is a line that encapsulates the essence of this wonderful book: “Downton Abbey is more than a house, it is a whole civilisation.” While the television series often comes across as a soap opera, what Jessica Fellowes reveals here is just how much thought went into the writing, in particular, to convey a real ‘lived-in’ sense of late Edwardian society and culture.

All those bon mots delivered so witheringly by Maggie Smith were far more than barbed remarks: they were an attitude, and a way of
Jun 21, 2014 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
Jan 29, 2017 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.
Dec 18, 2011 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
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,
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of tv series "Downton Abbey" or people interested in the time period (early 20th Century)
The World of Downton Abbey" is a stunningly beautiful companion book to this wonderful television show --- you can see that it was put together with a lot of thought and attention to detail! It is a hardcover book printed on glossy paper, and on its 303 pages it offers a wealth of pictures and information.

The book begins with a foreword by series creator Julian Fellowes and is split into 9 different sections after that:

Family Life
Life in Service
House & Estate
Nov 02, 2011 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 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
This was an ok book, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't know about this era in British History. The book uses Downton Abbey to explain how a Manor house works. Starting with explaining the basics of how many American Duchesses came to the UK during that time, going on to which servant did what, and what those in the family wore during which time of day. It was a bit too basic for me.
Mar 31, 2012 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 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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Terri Lynn
Dec 09, 2013 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
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: wackynonfiction
Books like these are why libraries are important. I enjoyed reading the book, but I really don't want to own it. It was interesting, but not completely logical or succinct in the layout.

The book would have benefited from having more stories tied to the photographs. Some where, but not all. Some quotes of characters/actors were on photographs that they weren't even in the picture. It was distracting.

The text was overwhelmed by the was hard to keep reading in order.

But all in all, I
Mar 25, 2012 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 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:
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Downton Abbey

At the end there's a useful bibliography for further reading about the period in wich DA is set (1912-1919).
Carrie Turansky
May 06, 2012 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.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Short little book. Some bits of interesting information about the characters and time period of Downton Abbey, but if you've watched the show you probably already know most of it. Which makes this a strange book. Obviously people who would read this would also be Downton fans, so why spend so much time talking about the class system which was already explained during the show?

Also, the author narrates this book and she is TERRIBLE. Her natural reading voice is OK but the second she quotes someon
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  • Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
  • Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real Life of Masters and Their Servants from the Victorian Era to the Second World War
  • The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago
  • Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant
  • Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts, Season One
  • The Making of Pride and Prejudice
  • The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
  • Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"
  • Beyond Downton Abbey
  • Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
  • To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
  • The Victoria Letters: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen (The Official Companion to the ITV Series)
  • Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff
  • The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen's Novel to Film
  • The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy
  • The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World
  • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm
“Violet, the Dowager Countess: ‘I have plenty of friends I don’t like.” 34 likes
“Lord Grantham: ‘My dear fellow. We all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished.” 30 likes
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