The Wisdom of Lady Grantham

atkins-bookshelf-quotationsDedicated fans of Downton Abbey know that Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham played by the inimitable Dame Maggie Smith, is no shrinking violet. Although she is the epitome of Edwardian culture — always elegantly dressed, impeccably poised and priggish — Lady Violet is never shy about speaking her mind. What makes Lady Grantham so captivating is that she is so brilliantly Dickensian, chock-full of contradictions — regal but quirky, frail but feisty, stuffy but snarky, and snobbish but endearing. In contrast to her children and grandchildren who are slowly adapting to the post-Edwardian world, Lady Violet tenaciously clings to the aristocratic values, notions, and traditions of a bygone era. Despite her anachronistic perspective, she relishes dishing out delicious zingers and bon mots for upperclass — and yes, even lower-class — consumption. And whether her zingers amuse or edify, you can be certain — as Lady Grantham boasts without any hint of modesty — that she is always right. 

Cora: “I think Granny’s right.”
Lady Grantham: “Can somebody write that down?”

Robert: “I’ll do it on one condition – no, two. First, Matthew must agree. Second, you will both admit it when you realize you were wrong.”
Lady Grantham: “Oh, well, that is an easy caveat to accept, because I’m never wrong.”

Lady Grantham: “It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere.”

Lady Grantham: “All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve.”

Lady Grantham: “If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it in the English upper class.”

Cora: “Are we to be friends then?”
Lady Grantham: “We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.”

 Cora: “I hope I don’t hear sounds of a disagreement.”
Lady Grantham: 
“Is that what they call discussion in New York?”

Lady Grantham (on hearing of a guest’s death): “Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house.” “One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”

Cora: “I might send her over to visit my aunt. She could get to know New York.”
Lady Grantham: 
“Oh, I don’t think things are quite that desperate.”

Cora: “I hate to go behind Robert’s back.”
Lady Grantham: “That is a scruple no successful wife can afford.”

Robert: “We better go in soon or it isn’t fair to Mrs. Padmore.”
Lady Grantham: “Oh, is her cooking so precisely timed? You couldn’t tell.”

Lady Grantham: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”
Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
Lady Grantham: “I must’ve said it wrong.”

Mrs. Crawley: “And what should we call one another?”
Lady Grantham: “Well, we could always start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham.”

Robert (dressed for a barbecue): “I feel like a Chicago bootlegger.”
Lady Grantham: “I don’t even know what that means but it sounds almost as peculiar as you look.”

Read related posts: Best Books on Downton Abbey
The Wisdom of a Grandmother

For further reading:  Downton Abbey Script Book, Season One by Julian Fellowes, William Morrow (2013)
Downton Abbey Script Book, Season Two by Julian Fellowes, William Morrow (2013)
Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley, St. Martin’s Press (2013)

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