'Downton Abbey' gets real-life literary character in Season 4

'Downton Abbey' gets real-life literary character in Season 4
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith in "Downton Abbey." (Nick Briggs / Carnival Film/PBS)

It will be easier than ever to find a room of one's own at "Downton Abbey" when it returns to PBS in January.

The drama, which premieres in the U.K. later this month, will take a literary bent in its fourth season. Fleeing from the gloom at Downton Abbey, aspiring writer Lady Edith, the Forrest Gump of her day, will find herself rubbing elbows with Virginia Woolf and her Bloomsbury cohort.

Woolf will be portrayed by Christina Carty, though no word yet on whether she'd be wearing a prosthetic nose. "Downton Abbey" fans will recall that young Edith's had a tough go of it lately; let's hope things turn out happier for her than they did for poor old Virginia, the acclaimed author of "To The Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway," who committed suicide by drowning in 1941.

Historical events like the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1919 have  played a pivotal role in the series, but the Crawley family and their servants are, sadly, all fictional.

The insertion of a real-life literary figure into the series fits with the new season's focus on the vibrant culture of the era. As previously reported, the Season 4 cast includes a young jazz musician as well as an opera singer. 

As creator Julian Fellowes told the London Telegraph, “The fourth [season] is more about getting into the '20s: what young people wanted, the changes in music, the arrival of the movies, cars, transport and all of that stuff.”


Twitter: @MeredithBlake