A countess on campus Special Collections discovers a “Downton Abbey” love story

BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS Tilly Losch was a dancer, choreographer and artist, in addition to being Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle. This picture was taken by famous photographer Cecil Beaton.

BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
Tilly Losch was a dancer, choreographer and artist, in addition to being Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle. This picture was taken by famous photographer Cecil Beaton.

The countess finished dictating her letter and peered out the hotel window at the snow swirling onto Fifth Avenue. Highclere Castle seemed a world away from Manhattan, and yet she wanted to be kept apprised of all that was going on in her new husband’s life. With Britain just months into the war, the estate was going through another big jolt. Would this one spell the end of aristocratic life?

“What will happen to poor Frederick?” she asked. “Did you get another butler, or is George or Robert doing it all? Who is looking after you — George or Robert? Has Marcus joined the Welsh Guards? And who is looking after the estate?”

This isn’t an early summary of Downton Abbey Season 9. It’s drawn from the real-life correspondence of Tilly Losch, an Austrian dancer and artist who married Lord Porchester, the sixth earl of Carnarvon, just before war broke out in 1939. Her letters, photographs and other personal memorabilia are part of the Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.

Read more in Binghamton University Magazine

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