I could not be more pleased to announce the winner of our latest non-contest. Entrants were asked to render a famous author’s impressions of Downton Abbey, as portrayed in the popular television show Downton Abbey. Full guidelines can be found here.
The following winning entry comes from author C Wallace Walker:
Jane Austen’s Visit to Downton Abbey
May 4, 1913
The house has been in such a bustle, I could scarce command quiet time to compose a letter to you. The new heir, Mr. Matthew Crawley, yesterday arrived with his mother. They are lodging at Crawley House but dined with us at the big house last night.
Mrs. Crawley is a pushy sort, but not nearly the equal of old Lady Grantham. I maneuver away from her ladyship whenever possible, though do try to remain within earshot of her remarks. Her wit is not to be missed as long as it is not directed at oneself. The Lady does heartily approve of my performance at the pianoforte. She cannot tolerate ragtime and prefers the waltzes and quadrilles with which I am familiar. I had not the heart to tell her that for want of a secluded room in which to practice, I would wish to learn the contemporary pieces. The house contains an abundance of modern sheet music, but the only pianoforte sits in the library, a room nearly always occupied. In a stroke of fortune, the library also contains books enough for even me.
Mr. Crawley, aside from being bestowed with a future of both rank and fortune, seems of good character, despite having once studied the law. The Lady Mary clearly considers her station above Mr. Crawley’s, though she is neither the eldest son of a man of fortune, nor engaged to be married to a man of fortune. Lady Mary is perfunctory in her behavior toward me and the other guests, summoning a servant to attend to any of our needs but not troubling herself. She is so wholly unhappy with the threat to her position that the entailment poses. Lady Mary is the Charlotte Lucas of Downton, only in better clothes, prepared to steer her heart to the most advantageous attachment.
Quite the opposite, Lady Sybil the youngest, handsomest sister, cares nothing for rank or fortune. She is a headstrong girl, who feels a conviction to speak her mind, yet hopes to marry.
Lest you think me too severe on our sex, Lady Edith and I are similar in disposition and temperament. Like me, she takes pleasure in a good novel.
Lord Grantham is all you would expect for a man of his situation in life, a fair and kind master, neither soft nor severe. Aside from the unfortunate fact that Lady Grantham is American, one would never suspect that she is of no breeding.
In closing my dearest Cassandra, I do you wish you could see the grounds of Downton. I would sketch them for you, but my drawings are horribly unlike their subjects. With more than 50 bedrooms the house is impressive, but most majestic are the Lebanon cedars that surround the gardens. I long to walk among them with you and listen to the wind whisper in their branches.
Yours very affectionately,
C Wallace Walker began her writing career in fourth grade by sending complaint letters to companies on behalf of her Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking grandmother. Writing success in those days came in the form of complimentary new fan blades and coupons for free cat food and cereal. Later she wrote obituaries and edited speeches. After years of piecemeal work, she secured a real job as a technical translator. Her professional stature and desirability were inexplicably enhanced by the seizure and confiscation of her passport and visa in the former USSR. Since then, she was awarded a PEN prize among other honors. Her work can be found in Ploughshares, The Southeast Review, The Little Patuxent Review and other journals. She is a member of the Broadneck Writers’ Workshop and editor of the Literary Lunch Room. Wallace lives on Maryland’s Severn River with her husband, two sons and two scheming but lovable beagles.