For the second time, I was invited to speak at Cheltenham Literary Festival. Last year, I was on the stage with my uncle, Julian Fellowes, executive producer Gareth Neame and Dan Stevens, the actor playing Matthew Crawley. Mark Lawson, of Radio 4/BBC4, was our chair, and most excellent he was, too.
This year, the theme was ‘Women of Downton’, so I was there with Liz Trubridge, producer, and the actresses playing Mrs Patmore and Mrs Hughes, Lesley Nicols and Phyllis Logan respectively. We were chaired by the very lovely and clever Kirsty Lang, who presents Radio 4’s Front Row on Friday nights. A thousand people were sitting in the audience, and afterwards a fair number of them came to get their books signed. Of course, most people wanted to rush back home to catch the next episode. I love that in a world of catch-up TV, DVD boxsets and the like, everyone wants to watch Downton at the same time as everyone else.
Anyway, I’ve just found a bunch of photos from the event, so thought I’d put them up here. It was a good night, and not just because HarperCollins treated us to a slap up supper afterwards, with plenty of decent wine drunk. But also because after months of writing alone on my kitchen table, it’s nice to feel that one’s work is connected to so many people. The readers, the publishers, the people about whom the book is written – they all have their own view on it and relationship with it and to have been a part of that is a privilege.