It seems like everyone I know is watching Downton Abbey and eagerly awaiting the third season, which comes out next fall. We have the first two seasons and they are in hot demand. Watching them in early winter propelled me on a reading binge about early 20th century life in England when so much of the centuries-old feudal social system changed so radically. I bought “The World of Downton Abbey” by Jessica Fellowes which gives background information about the social period, the castle and the making of the film. That whetted my appetite for more, so I devoured “The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson. I got a free copy at the PLA conference of an audio CD of “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle” about the real Carnarvon family, written by the 8th Countess of Carnarvon who is currently in residence at Highclere Castle. The real family is infinitely more interesting than the movie version. For instance, the Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun after 15 years of searching. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman is another great history of the time.
If you prefer to take your early 20th century English history in the form of fiction, try Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks or Regeneration by Pat Barker. If you’d like a mystery of the era, read the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, or No Graves as Yet by Anne Perry or An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Other DVDs in the collection: Gosford Park, My boy Jack, Lawrence of Arabia or Upstairs Downstairs.

Downton Abbey Craze