Author Jessica Fellowes treated a UCF audience of more than 200 people to “An Afternoon with Downton Abbey” recently. Niece of show creater Lord Julian Fellowes, Jessica Fellowes is a Downton Abbey insider and author of two supplementary books about the show, The World of Downton Abbey and The Chronicles of Downton Abbey.
During the presentation, which was hosted by the Global Perspectives Office, Fellowes discussed the different aspects of the show, including her uncle’s inspiration, the characters, societal norms and particularly the role of women in England after World War I.
Fellowes noted that her uncle’s portrayal of women at that time was represented in the three daughters on the show: Mary, Edith and Sybil. Mary, she explained, represents the woman who married for her position, while Sybil supported women’s suffrage and value in the workplace. Fellowes shared that her favorite character was the middle daughter, Edith, and said she represents “women with the biggest change in expectations for the time.”
Fellowes described how woman in England at that time, particularly upper class women, were expected to marry and have children. After the war, she said, much of the social hierarchy was destroyed; the upper class began to associate more with the lower class, and women gained more independence because so many men died or returned home injured.
She highlighted that “everything has changed in our social framework over the last one hundred years.” She concluded that in spite of advancements in technology and changes to women’s place in society, people were just “as complicated one hundred years ago as they are now.”
When asked if any radical changes were coming to the next season of Downton Abbey, Fellowes responded by denying any major changes to characters or plot but said the biggest change would come by way of the show’s costumes and design.
In addition to the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners included the UCF Book Festival 2014 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF College of Education and Human Performance, UCF Diplomacy Program, UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, Chastang Charitable Foundation, CliftonLarsonAllen, Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations, WUCF TV, UCF Political Science Department, UCF International Services Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.