Related Reads: Downton Abbey

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If you’ve been enthralled by the miniseries “Downton Abbey” and don’t want to leave that world just yet, expand your experience with some of these titles. Article in Themes and Read-Alikes category.

  • The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes - the official companion book to the series; explores characters and history of the series to take you deeper into Downton’s world.
  • The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes & Matthew Sturgis - including scenes and characters from season 3, the NEW official companion to the series is this updated title.

DVDs to watch

  • Downton Abbey - catch up or relive your favorite episodes.
  • Secrets of Highclere Castle - "Step inside one of Britain's best-known manor houses" with this PBS special about the real-life history of Highclere, the house which has become "Downton" on-screen.
  • Berkeley Square - follows three nannies in turn-of-the-century London; one of the families is headed by an Earl and his American wife.
  • Brideshead Revisited - based on the book by Evelyn Waugh, also worth a read!
  • Duchess of Duke Street - serves up Edwardian menus, a rags-to-riches tale, and an unforgettable character in Louisa Trotter, based on the real-life Rosa Lewis, hotelier and chef to high society London in the years before the Great War.
  • Gosford Park - screenplay by "Downton Abbey"’s Julian Fellowes - shows both above- and below-stairs schemes and intrigue during a weekend hunting party on an estate.
  • House of Eliott - a BBC series from the creators of “Upstairs Downstairs” about two sisters in dire straits, who open a fashion house in London between the wars, creating costumes for the aristocracy and challenging views that women could not live independently.
  • Howards End - Based on the 1910 novel by E. M. Forster, follows members of three families at three different levels of society as they meet and entangle.
  • Mercy Street - Although it's set in America, this period drama has melodramatic elements similar to Downton Abbey.
  • Mr. Selfridge - This 2013-2016 series follows a deeply troubled American retail magnate Harry Selfridge who, in his own words, is “giving the world style, glamour, and razzmatazz” by founding the high-end U.K. department store Selfridges in the 1910s.
  • Secrets of the Manor House - Explores the real-life country houses of the British upper class and the changes the twentieth century brought to their lives.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs - the 1971-1975 series about the Bellamy household in London; dramatic events in the lives of servants and aristocratic family members in context of historical events 1903-1930.


  • The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin - the story of the daughter of wealthy Americans (her name is even Cora) who marries the eligible Duke of Wareham at the turn of the 20th century
  • Cavendon Hall, by Barbara Taylor Bradford - a family saga about the Edwardian inhabitants of Cavendon Hall; its sequel is The Cavendon Women.
  • We that are Left by Clare Clark - Jessica and Phyllis Melville have grown up at Ellinghurst, a family estate fraught with secrets. A headstrong beauty, Jessica longs for London the glitter and glamour of debutante life while bookish Phyllis dreams in vain of attending university. Into their midst walks Oskar Grunewald, a frequent visitor fascinated by the house but alternately tormented and ignored by the Melville children. Oskar seeks refuge in Ellinghursts enormous library. Meanwhile Theo, the adored Melville brother, eclipses everyone around him.
  • The Crimson Rooms, by Katherine McMahon - love and mystery surrounding characters in 1920s London, still reeling from the effects of the Great War
  • The Dressmaker, by Kate Alcott - a seamstress finds herself on the Titanic voyage, embroiled with two men of different status, she survives the sinking but does not escape the repercussions
  • Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett - a saga of five families from all walks of life set against the drama of World War I
  • The Go-Between, by L. P. Hartley - a summer on a great estate before-the-wars, containing a tragic love story, is remembered
  • Habits of the House, by Fay Weldon - from one of the original writers of the "Upstairs, Downstairs" series comes this depiction of a household - family and staff - on Belgrave Square in London during the season of 1899. The Earl is facing financial concerns and an heiress arrives from Chicago in this first part of a trilogy. The trilolgy is continued in Long Live the King and The New Countess.
  • The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton - intrigue and romance on the grounds of a country house in the early 1920s
  • The House at Tyneford, by Natasha Solomons - a young Jewish woman is forced to leave 1938 Vienna and become a parlor maid at a great house in England. In a changing world, a relationship begins with the son of the house.
  • The Orchid House, by Lucinda Riley
  • The Pursuit of Love, or others by Nancy Mitford
  • Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro - though this novel is concerned with staff of a great house during World War II, a little later than our setting in Downton Abbey, you can see echoes of Carson in the main character Stevens, a butler with a fierce dignity and dedication to his profession in the face of changing times
  • The Shooting Party, by Isabel Colegate - a witty and moving portrayal of the upper class in 1913 at a weekend shooting party on the estate of an earl
  • Upstairs, Downstairs, by John Hawkesworth - the novelization of the British television series
  • Phillip Rock's Greville Trilogy was originally published in the 1970s, fallowing a family through its dramas from 1914 through the 1930s. The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, and A Future Arrived
  • Penny Vincenzi's Spoils of Time trilogy follows the Lytton family - aristocrats in London and New York during the World Wars. No Angel, Something Dangerous, and Into Temptation.
  • Books by Julian Fellowes who wrote the screenplay for "Downton Abbey" - these titles do not take place in the same time period as Downton, but have similar fun with the attitudes and mores of upper classes. Try Snobs or Past Imperfect.

Memoirs or Portraits from Above or Below Stairs

  • The Bolter, by Frances Osborne - tells the story of Idina Sackville, who went from high society to a wild bohemian life when she ran off to Africa.
  • Rose: My Life in Service, by Rose Harrison - "recollections of life in one of England's grandest households by the personal maid to Nancy, Lady Astor"

For endlessly intriguing characters within the British upper classes in the first half of the 20th century, don’t look farther than the exploits of the six Mitford sisters.

Rich Yankees

Don’t forget those rich Americans - like Cora - who married into the British aristocracy. “I’ll give you my family’s money to help your floundering estate; you give me your title to lend my nouveau-riche family some class.” Get all the juicy details about how these arrangements worked out.

Contemporary Authors

What might Lady Sybil have been reading while waiting for her chauffeur? Lady Edith while dreaming of someone finally to notice her?

The Great War and its Effects

Downton Abbey serves as a war hospital and the lives of all its inhabitants are touched in many ways by World War I. Read the following for an understanding of just how far-reaching the war’s effects were on British (and others) lives.

  • All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque - the epitome of a World War I novel, shows that life in the trenches was brutal for both sides.
  • Regeneration, by Pat Barker - based on the real experiences of Seigfried Sassoon, this novel details a military psychiatric hospital and the lives of its shell-shocked soldiers. Try also his novel Life Class.
  • Three Soldiers, by John Dos Passos - shows the toll of the war on three American soldiers.
  • Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo - this pacifist National Book Award winner from 1939 tells the story of a severely-wounded soldier’s recovery.
  • Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf - while the title character shows us the life of society between the wars, the character of Septimus Smith shows us the tragic plight of a shell-shocked veteran.

And while you’re wallowing the muck of the trenches or recovering in the arms of a nurse, don’t forget the classic WWI novels: A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway and Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

Mysteries with this Setting

The House

Isn’t it charming when Lady Mary calls their house “a bit cramped”? Explore for yourself the great English country houses in the following.