The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey

The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey

by Jessica Fellowes


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The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

"Come war and peace Downton still stands and the Crawleys are still in it."

Downton Abbey is loved the world over for its fabulous costumes, beautiful scenery, wonderful characters and intricate plot lines, but what keeps millions of us coming back time after time is the stellar quality of the writing. With each stroke of his pen Julian Fellowes seems to gift us with a cuttingly dry quip from the Dowager Countess, a perfectly timed word of wisdom from Mrs Patmore or a touchingly nostalgic pronouncement from Carson. Here in The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellowes has gathered together her favorite quotes from the complete Downton Abbey oeuvre to take each of us back to the most memorable moments from the show and ensure we are armed with the very best ripostes should we ever need to chastise an impertinent lady's maid.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250093608
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Series: The World of Downton Abbey
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 418,917
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 5.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

JESSICA FELLOWES is the New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, and The World of Downton Abbey. She is a journalist and the former Deputy Editor of Country Life, and the niece of Julian Fellowes.

Read an Excerpt

The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey

By Jessica Fellowes

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Jessica Fellowes
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09361-5




Mrs Patmore: Nothing in life is sure.

Violet: Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.

Carson: In my opinion, to misquote Doctor Johnson, if you're tired of style, you are tired of life.

Mrs Hughes: My advice, Daisy, is to go as far in life as God and luck allow.

Violet: My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve, first one and then the next and the next, until at last we die.

Carson: The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that's all there is.

Blake: I loved Rose's definition of ordinary life: dancing and shopping and seeing one's friends.

Carson: Hard work and diligence weigh more than beauty in the real world.

Violet: If only that were true.


Violet: Have we all stepped through the looking glass?

Robert: We all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished.


Branson: We all live in a harsh world. But at least I know I do.

Mrs Hughes: The Big Parade's passed by, Mr Carson. We're just trying to keep up as best we can.

Robert: By thinking sensibly, you mean thinking like you.

Violet: Of course.

Violet: Well, in my experience, second thoughts are vastly overrated.

HOPE ...

Bates: Nothing is harder to live with than false hope.

Mrs Hughes: Where there's life, there's hope.

Jimmy: I have dreams. But they don't involve peeling potatoes.

Violet: Hope is a tease, designed to prevent us accepting reality.

Bates: What do they call extreme optimism?

Anna: They call it 'making the best of things' and that is what we'll do.

Cora: There's nothing more tiring than waiting for something to happen.

Robert: It's better to know the truth than to live in a cloud of mystery and despair.


Robert: I wouldn't know what to do. All that crossing and bobbing up and down. I went to a Mass once in Rome, it was more like a gymnastic display.

Sinderby: The second Lord Sinderby may be Jewish, but the third will not. And soon our family will be one more British dynasty with all the same prejudices as everyone else who shops at Harrods!

Violet: Principles are like prayers. Noble, of course, but awkward at a party.


Sybil: It's the gloomy things that need our help. If everything in the garden is sunny, why meddle?

Mary: It's easy to be generous when you have nothing to lose.

Cora: What's the matter, Robert? Are you afraid you'll be converted while you're not looking?

Henry: I never meant it to happen. Isn't there something called Forgiveness Through Good Intention?

Mary: Only for Catholics.


Robert: British justice! Envy of the world.

Pamuk: Why are you English so curious about other people's lives?

Rosamund: There's nothing like an English summer, is there?

Mary: Except an English winter.

Edith: I sometimes feel we should make more scenes. About things that really matter to us.

Gillingham: It wouldn't be very English.

Violet: Like all Englishmen of his type, he hid his qualities beneath a thick blanket of convention, so I didn't see who he really was at first.

Robert: The English have strong principles, except when it comes to the chance of good shooting or eating well.

Harold: Well I thought well-born English girls were supposed to be reticent and refined.

Madeleine: That was before the war.


Violet: A peer in favour of reform is like a turkey in favour of Christmas.

Edith: Our way of life is something strange, something people queue up and buy a ticket to see, a museum exhibit, a fat lady in the circus.

Grigg: You won't always be in charge, you know. The day is coming when your lot will have to toe the line, just like the rest of us.

Mary: Women like me don't have a life. We choose clothes and pay calls and work for charity.

Branson: 'Flattered' is a word posh people use when they're getting ready to say no.

Branson: You're like all of your kind. You think you have the monopoly of honour.

Violet: The aristocracy has not survived by its intransigence.

Mary: Well, I suppose I must accept that in a post-war world we toffs are the villains of every story.

Mary: Families like ours are always hunting families.

Violet: The Monarchy has thrived on magic and mystery. Strip them away and people may think the Royal family is just like us.

Violet: It's our job to provide employment. An aristocrat with no servants is as much use to the county as a glass hammer.

Violet: Oh no, if I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class.

Mrs Hughes: It seems odd to me that a curtsey and a nod from the Throne can turn you from a girl into a woman. But that's the way they do it, so who are we to argue?

Mary: What will we do about furniture and pictures and everything?

Carlisle: What does anyone do? Buy it, I presume.

Mary: Your lot buys it. My lot inherits it.

Cora: I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.

Robert: If we don't respect the past we'll find it harder to build our future.


Robert: Cheer up, Carson. There are worse things happening in the world.

Carson: Not worse than a maid serving a duke.

O'Brien: She hasn't even got a lady's maid.

Anna: It's not a capital offence.

Gwen: I'm the daughter of a farmhand. I'm lucky to be a maid. I was born with nothing, and I'll die with nothing.

Gwen: You're brought up to think it's all within your grasp, that if you want something enough it'll come to you. Well we're not like that. We don't think our dreams are bound to come true, because they almost never do.

Cora: Robert? A world famous singer is in our house, a great artist honoured by the King, but you felt it beneath your dignity to eat with her?

Robert: What does one say to a singer?

Sarah: Lord Grantham would like us serfs to stay in our allotted place from cradle to grave!

Violet: It is not your place even to have opinions of my acquaintance. Let alone express them.

Carson: You are the Under Butler, a post that is fragrant with the memories of a lost world. No one is sorrier to say it than I am, but you are not a creature of today.

Carson: They respect you, of course. But I'm their leader.

Mrs Hughes: Well, that's put me in my place.

Carson: Don't envy me, Mrs Hughes. You know what they say. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

Isobel: Servants are always far more conservative than their employers. Everyone knows that.

William: Are we to treat him as the heir?

O'Brien: Are we heck as like. A doctor's son from Manchester? He'll be lucky if he gets a civil word out of me.

Anna: We're all lucky if we get a civil word out of you.

Cora: I'm afraid meeting us all together must be very intimidating.

Violet: I do hope so.

Gregson: All sorts of toffs are writing for magazines nowadays. Some of them even advertise face creams and cigarettes and the rest of it.

Edith: I'm afraid Papa would not find that reassuring.


Ethel: Why shouldn't she learn how to cook and scrub? ... Things are changing.

Violet: I have lived through great wars and my share of grief. I think I can manage an impertinent question from a doctor.

Violet: I haven't been into the kitchens here for at least, oh, twenty years at least.

Isobel: Have you brought your passport?

Clarkson: Nurse Crawley, I may not be your social superior in a Mayfair ballroom, but in this hospital I have the deciding voice.

Matthew: I won't let them change me.

Isobel: Why would they want to?

Matthew: Mother, Lord Grantham has made the unwelcome discovery that his heir is a middle-class lawyer and the son of a middle-class doctor.

Isobel:Upper middle class.


Rose: You live there too, you know.

Branson: I'm not sure where I live. I feel sometimes I'm hanging in mid-air –

Violet: It's time he decided whether he is fish, flesh, fowl or good red herring.

Branson: I just felt like an intruder. It made me face the fact that I'm living where I don't belong.

Edith: Welcome to the club.

Mary: Oh, stop moaning.

Thomas: Still, it's pathetic for a lady to be pining over a footman.

Jimmy: Excuse me. I think it shows very good taste.

Branson: You won't make a gentleman of me, you know. You can teach me to fish, to ride and to shoot, but I'll still be an Irish Mick in my heart.

Edith: It feels so wild. To be out with a man, drinking and dining in a smart London restaurant. Can you imagine being allowed to do anything of the sort five years ago, never mind ten?


Carson: Life's altered you, as it altered me. And what would be the point of living if we didn't let life change us?

Robert: Sometimes I feel like a creature in the wilds, whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed.

Mary: The world moves on and we must move with it.

Carson: The nature of life is not permanence but flux.

Mrs Hughes: Just so. Even if it does sound faintly disgusting.

Mrs Hughes: Perhaps the world is becoming a kinder place.

Carson: You say 'kinder'. I say weaker and less disciplined.

Robert: It's a brave new world we're headed for, no doubt about that. We must try to meet it with as much grace as we can muster ...

Branson: Sometimes a hard sacrifice must be made for a future that's worth having.

Martha: The world has moved on since we last met.

Carson: And we have moved on with it, madam.

Martha: Really? It seems so strange to think of the English embracing change.

Violet: It's so encouraging to see the future unfurl.

Martha: As long as you remember it will bear no resemblance to the past.

Carson: Why does everyone talk as if we don't live in the modern world?

Mrs Hughes: You don't agree with that, then?

Carson: No! Does the King not live in the world of today? Does Mr Sargent not paint modern pictures? Does Mr Kipling not write modern books?

Carson: I don't know. Screaming in the servants' hall, singers chatting to his lordship, and a footman cooking the dinner. What a topsy-turvy world we've come to.

Mrs Hughes: I think it's exciting. We're catching up, Mr Carson. Whether you like it or not, Downton is catching up with the times we live in.

Carson: That is exactly what I am afraid of.

Violet: What is a 'weekend'?


Carson: You think they must be having a better time. Then you want them not to have a better time. The next thing you know, there's a guillotine in Trafalgar Square.

Thomas: I'm the one that got away.

Ethel: Gives hope to us all.

Violet: I'm very good at mixing. We always danced the first waltz at the Servants' Ball, didn't we, Carson?

Violet: It always happens when you give these little people power. It goes to their heads like strong drink!

Mary: My lot's going down and your lot's coming up. Is that a receipt for a peaceful co-existence?

Blake: I wouldn't put it like that. I'd say I believe in the future, and so could you.

Molesley: Of course, she married beneath her.

Mrs Patmore: And who are you then, a Hapsburg archduke?


Mrs Hughes: An electric toaster. I've given it to myself as a treat. If it's any good, I'm going to suggest getting one for the upstairs breakfasts.

Carson: Is it not enough that we're sheltering a dangerous revolutionary, Mrs Hughes? Could you not have spared me that?

Mrs Patmore: You don't understand. Before too long, her ladyship could run the kitchen with a woman from the village. What with these toasters and mixers and such like, we'd be out of a job.

Gwen: It's electricity, not the devil's handiwork. You'll have to get used to it sooner or later.

Violet: I couldn't have electricity in the house. I wouldn't sleep a wink. All those vapours seeping about.

Violet: First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feels as if I must be living in an H. G. Wells novel.

Violet: Is this an instrument of communication or torture?

Evelyn Napier: Is this your first experience of jazz, Lady Grantham?

Violet: Oh is that what it is? Do you think any of them know what the others are playing? Hmm?

Daisy: But if it's electric, aren't you worried it's going to run away with itself and sew your fingers to the table?

Carlisle: The train was late.

Robert: Welcome to the new world.

Robert: That's because you're American. But I'm not, and I find the whole idea a kind of Thief of Life. That people should waste hours huddled around a wooden box, listening to someone talking at them, burbling inanities from somewhere else.

Cora: Mrs Patmore, is there any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistance?

Mrs Patmore: Well m'lady, I wouldn't mind getting rid of my corset.

Mary: People do such odd things nowadays. I once met a man who spent his time importing guinea pigs from Peru.


Violet: Oh, good. Let's talk about money.

Carlisle: That's like the rich who say that money doesn't matter. It matters enough when you haven't got it.

Mary: Richard Carlisle is powerful. He's rich and getting richer. He wants to buy a proper house, you know, with an estate. He says after the war the market will be flooded and we can take our pick.

Violet: Oh, and you can dance on the grave of a fallen family.

Jimmy: Of course it was poker. You can't lose a fortune playing Snap.

Molesley: I could.

Violet: A guinea? For a bottle of scent? Did he have a mask and a gun?

Daisy: A penny for your thoughts.

Mrs Patmore: They're worth a great deal more than that, thank you very much.

Anna: Penny for your thoughts.

Bates: You'd pay twice that not to know them.


Cora: So women's rights begin at home? I see. Well, I'm all for that.

Thomas: There is such a thing as free speech.

Mrs Hughes: Not when I'm in charge.

Edith: I hope you won't chain yourself to the railings and end up being force-fed semolina.

Edith: I don't have the vote. I'm not over thirty and I'm not a householder. It's ridiculous.


Excerpted from The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes. Copyright © 2015 Jessica Fellowes. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Love and Family,
Downton Abbey,
About the Author,

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The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
OmaB More than 1 year ago
The content was as I expected, lots of amusing quotes. My problem was with the ebook formatting. If the quote was an exchange between two people it was hard to tell. Every quote had the same amount of spacing between the lines. Statement and response should have been more clearly linked.