Downtown Abbey Creator to Write Victorian Novel in 11 Digital Installments

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When you think of stories that are published in installments, you probably think of television, or podcasts, or movies with lots of sequels. If you shift your mind to the written word, you think of comic books. And if you think of actual literature, your thoughts probably travel back to the age of Charles Dickens, when novels were released drip-by-weekly-drip in magazines before they were compiled into a single book.

Now, thanks to Downton Abbey creator/writer/producer Julian Fellowes, installment literature is making a dramatic return. Fellowes is set to publish Belgravia, a story set in Victorian London, in 11 digital “episodes.” The story will be available in text and audio, and will delivered directly to readers’ mobil, tablet, or desktop devices via a new app that will launch on his website in April.

Each installment will cost $1.99 separately, or $13.99 for the entire series, and the reader will have the ability to switch between text and audio at any point (great for traffic jams!) (not really, please don’t read while driving your car). The episodes will also come with bonus content such as videos, music, character portraits, maps, family trees, and period fashion pieces. When it’s all over in July, Belgravia will be published as a hardcover book.

Orion Publishing owns the rights in the UK, and Grand Central Publishing has secured North American rights. In a press release, here’s how the story is described:

Julian Fellowes’s BELGRAVIA is the story of a secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, BELGRAVIA is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change forever.

Sounds very British!

“I was very intrigued by the idea from the start,” said Fellowes. “To marry the traditions of the Victorian novel to modern technology, allowing the reader (or listener) an involvement with the characters and the background of the story and the world in which it takes place that would not have been possible until now, and yet to preserve within that the strongest traditions of story-telling, seems to me a marvelous goal and a real adventure.”

Along with creating Downton Abbey, which is currently in the midst of its sixth and final season, Fellowes won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for writing Gosford Park in 2002.