Posts Tagged ‘Dowager Violet’


No one wants to kiss a girl in black.

– Dowager Violet, Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey.)

What the countess is saying is that a woman in mourning is less than appealing to a potential admirer. There once was a time when widows, widowers, and family members sported black after the loss of a loved one to show respect. Such a tradition goes back to Roman times and the rules got quite complicated in Victorian England, thanks in part to Queen Victoria’s endless mourning period for her husband Prince Albert.

There were different phases of mourning during which one could wear different shades of black and slowly move into other dark colors. Even jewelry had to be black, which led to the booming jet industry in Whitby, England. Strict mourning wrapped up after one year.

Over time these traditions loosened, even by the Downton Abbey’s era of the early 1920s when the dowager made this comment to Mary, who had recently lost her husband. Today one doesn’t even wear black to a funeral.

Speaking of Downton Abbey, it’s the final season. Are you watching?

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