The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 12, 2014

January 12, 2011

Julian Fellowes (August 17, 1949) is a name we all recognize since the success of his period drama, Downton Abbey. His deserved success is part of a career of varied branches -- actor, director, as well as writer. People talk about Downton as being too soapy and (like Maureen Dowd's criticism) not true to history the way it was. Sure, it's soap, but I have also found people do not realize that Matthew Crawley HAD to die, since he refused to sign a contract for another season. Still you could make a case for Fellowes' earlier work being superior to that for which he is now celebrated. I would say his novel Snobs, (2004) is a subtler analysis of a more difficult setting. Snobs deals with an upper middle class woman caught up in an aristocratic milieu in our contemporary era.

The most interesting thing though, about Julian Fellowes, is his actual life in relation to his comfortable literary evocations. I do not mean anything startling about his origins. He went to Cambridge University after all. What I refer to is the subtle way his own life skirts in and out of the outskirts of English aristocracy. For instance he married Emma Joy Kitchener,(born 1963), a woman with aristocratic connections, in 1990. She was a lady-in-waiting to HRH Princess Michael of Kent. (The latter personage appears in this blog space as often as I can think of a reason to include her. And not many know that Fellowes has agreed to do a screenplay of one of the novels of Princess Michael). Let's swerve back on track: he played the 2nd Duke of Richmond in the BBC series Aristocrats (1999).

And now, since he was given the honorary title of Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, (January 12, 2011) he got to create his own coat of arms. What a lovely confluence of art and reality. The artist for his services to his country (that would be Downton) is elevated to the peerage, and because of that honor, gets to create his own, really real, heraldic emblem. It is kind of like winning an Oscar (which he did do in 2001) and getting to design your own trophy. Only cooler. 

The crest he designed is described as "A Lion's Head erased Or murally crowned Argent charged with a Fesse dancettée Ermine." That's the language of heraldry. The motto he chose "Post Proelia Praemia" translates: "After battles come rewards." And it may be, the life of Julian Fellowes IS that simple.

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