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Local News

Niece of 'Downton Abbey' creator to speak at College of DuPage

Jessica Fellowes to appear Jan. 31 at McAninch Arts Center

Jessica Fellowes, New York Times-bestselling author and the niece of "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, will provide behind-the-scenes insights about the show at 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd.
Jessica Fellowes, New York Times-bestselling author and the niece of "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, will provide behind-the-scenes insights about the show at 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd.

GLEN ELLYN – As the niece of "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, Jessica Fellowes has more than a passing interest in the popular television series.

Jessica Fellowes is the author of a half-dozen books on "Downton Abbey" and will lead a lecture at 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd.

Tickets are $35 to $55 per person. For tickets or more information, call 630-942-4000 or go to AtTheMac.org.
 
At 2 p.m. just prior to the discussion with Fellowes, College of DuPage art faculty member Kathy Baum will share her insights in a free MAC chat on the jewelry and artistry of the 19th and 20th centuries, the era showcased in the "Downton Abbey" series.

Immediately following the discussion with Fellowes, attendees can enjoy English treats and a book signing with Fellowes in the MAC lobby.

Suburban Life reporter Eric Schelkopf recently spoke to Jessica Fellowes about her upcoming lecture.

Schelkopf: What should people who come to hear you at McAninch Arts Center expect?

Fellowes: What I do is talk about the real-life inspirations behind "Downton Abbey." It's a mixture of stories from our family, because obviously Julian is my uncle, and it's real-life history.

That is what I've always done in my books. I really hope that the books and the talks sort of enhance your viewing, and when you go back, you'll notice things you didn't notice before. It can be the beginning of sort of an archaeological dig, if you like.

Schelkopf: I know that the final episode of "Downton Abbey" aired in the United Kingdom on Christmas, and then in the United States, it's going to air on March 6. Are you surprised at how popular the series became?

Fellowes: What was quite shocking was by the third episode of the first season, it had become a very talked about show. It sort of turned a corner incredibly quickly.

And then it kind of kept building around the world. And now basically everybody who watches television watches "Downton Abbey" and talks about it and likes it. That is extraordinary.

Schelkopf: Why did you want to write these books in the first place?

Fellowes: What interested me is that the publishers wanted to explore the historical context. I was given the license to delve into that world. They weren't just interested in a behind-the-scenes book.

Schelkopf: Did the actors get along during the filming?

Fellowes: Yeah, they did, tremendously, actually. It's quite unusual, I think, to have such a large ensemble cast and have no difficulties between any of them.

Schelkopf: And there's talk about the show being made into a movie. Would you want to see it made into a movie?

Fellowes: Of course. The real question is whether the cast can come all back together, because they are all slightly scattered to the four winds in this post-"Downton" state.

So we shall see. I would like to see the "Downton" movie.

Schelkopf: "Downton Abbey" is set in a certain time period. Is there anything we can learn from the depiction of that time period?

Fellowes: The good old days weren't always good. When it comes to racism, homophobia, medicine, we don't want to go back to those days.

If you were born rich and beautiful, you could have an absolutely whale of a time. If you weren't that, it was hard.

But I think we are more sympathetic now. We sort of acknowledge those differences.

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