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Cora Crawley

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Cora Crawley (née Levinson)
Countess of Grantham
S1-cora 595
Biographical information
Born July 18th, 1868
Marital status Married
Residence Downton Abbey, Yorkshire, England

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (formerly)

Title(s) Countess of Grantham

Lady Grantham
Her Ladyship
Your Ladyship
My Lady
Cousin Cora

Physical information
Gender Female
Hair colour Brown
Eye colour Blue
Family information
Family Isidore Levinson (father) †
Aunt (aunt)

Martha Levinson (mother)
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (husband)
Lady Mary Crawley (daughter)
Lady Edith Crawley (daughter)
Lady Sybil Branson nee Crawley (daughter)
Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (mother-in-law)
Patrick Crawley, 5th Earl of Grantham (father-in-law) †
Lady Rosamund Painswick (sister-in-law)
Marmaduke Painswick† (brother-in-law)
Tom Branson (son-in-law)

Behind the scenes
Portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern

Cora Crawley (née Levinson), Countess of Grantham (b. July 18, 1868) is the daughter of Martha Levinson and Isadore Levinson, the wife of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, mother of Lady Mary Crawley, Lady Edith Crawley and Lady Sybil Branson nee Crawley, mother-in-law of Tom Branson, future mother-in-law of Matthew Crawley, and soon-to-be Grandmother to her youngest daughter and son-in-law's first child. She is American and married into British nobility.


Early Life

Violet: "I've written to your mother. She's very anxious, naturally. She suggested coming over."
Cora: "Oh, God."
Violet: "Well, that's what I thought. So I put her off. Told her to come and admire the baby."
— Violet and Cora discussing her pregnancy.[src]

Born Cora Levinson in Cincinnati on July 18, 1868, she was the only daughter of a dry goods multi-millionaire, the jewish[1] Isidore Levinson and his wife Martha Levinson, and had an Aunt[2]. Cora has a strained relationship with her mother.

As a young woman, she was brought to London in her first season by her socially ambitious mother, in order to marry a member of the British nobility. She met and got engaged to Robert Crawley, the future heir and title of Downton Abbey, much to Robert's mother chagrin. As part of their marriage contract, Cora's fortune was tied to the family Estate, which was to keep the heir of Grantham from becoming bankrupt.

Life at Downton

While their marriage was initially one-sided in love, after a year Robert fell in love with her and their marriage was perfectly happy [3]. After her father-in-law died in 1898[4], Cora became the Countess of Grantham, her husband Robert became the Earl of Grantham, and, over their twenty four year marriage, the Countess would give birth to three daughters, Mary in 1892, Edith in 1894, and Sybil in 1898, however none of her daughters could inherit the title or her wealth[5]. The solution was to have the eldest daughter, Mary, marry the heir Patrick Crawley.

Series One

Cora was curious about Evelyn Napier, especially since the man seems to be of importance for Mary. Cora asks Mary whether she likes him and Mary replies by saying "I don't dislike him". This then builds up more questions from
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 7.52.17 PM
Cora and Mary discuss about Napier
Cora to Mary about Napier such as "What is he writing about?", "Where is he staying?", "Who's friends?" and later insisting that he must simply come to Downton Abbey. Cora also reveals that she had a connection of friendship to Napier's late mother. There is a possibility that because Cora was close with Napier's late mother, it can cause Cora to feel quite comfortable that Mary is writing to him. Cora then starts a discussion with Violet and Robert about Mary's perspective and actions about Napier. Violet agrees that Mary should pursue Napier since Mary is not interested in Matthew anyway. Cora reports that the Napiers have plenty of money. Cora feel concern because Violet does not seem pleased. Violet says that she is pleased, but she does
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 8.06.05 PM
Cora gives her opinions and thoughts about Matthew
not think the whole scheme of Mary pursuing Napier is brilliant. Violet says that she does not want Robert to use marriage as a fight over Mary's inheritance, Cora reassures her of no such thing, saying that it won't make any difference. She says that the price of saving Downton is to accept that Matthew is the heir of the fortune and the estate. She in fact, points out that she rather admires Matthew but she does not believe that it is sufficient reason to hand over the money. Cora visits Mary's room to announce that there was a letter from Evelyn Napier which says that he will bring a
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 8.11.53 PM
Cora reads out the evening letter from Napier
friend from the Turkish Embassy, a man named Kemal Pamuk. She continues reading to say that Kemal Pamuk is son to one of the sultans and is here to attend the Albanian Talk, to create an independent Albania. Cora invites this Mr.Pamuk to stay in Downton as well. She finishes by saying that Mary will ride out with him.
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 8.28.48 PM
Cora, in the middle of Matthew and Evelyn, smiles about Pamuk's joke during dinner

The very next evening Cora meets Mr.Pamuk and Napier, greeting both of them whilst getting a little kiss on the hand from Mr.Pamuk. During dinner on their discussion on Gwen's dream of becoming a secretary, Cora expresses that it matters because she wants the people who work for the family are content.

Cora watches Mr.Pamuk's and the rest of the people's opinion about jobs and social class and there impact on the world. Cora smiles at Mr.Pamuk's joke and resumes discussion in the background with Napier and eating. Cora then asks if Mr.Pamuk enjoyed the hunt with Pamuk's reply being " I can hardly remember a better one".

Cora is revealed about Pamuk's death in Mary's bed to Cora's great despair and disappointment. She proposes
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 8.48.41 PM
Cora digests the fact about Pamuk's death, bewildered
to both Anna and Mary that the three of them has to decide what to do for the best. Anna suggests to them to carry the body to where Pamuk is staying. Cora is evidently shocked about the suggestion but then is more convinced in realizing of what a giant scandal this would be and how Mary's reputation would be destroyed. She suggests to cover him up and hurry because the servants will be up soon. They, including Cora runs up to where Pamuk is staying, carrying his dead body. Cora takes out the sheets underneath Pamuk and sees to it that Anna puts on the blanket upon him. Mary cries over Pamuk's body but
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 8.53.41 PM
Cora and Anna carry Pamuk's corpse
then is interrupted by Cora to leave him and come to her, where she stands in front of the door, holding the sheets. Cora says that she can never forgive Mary of what her daughter put her through this night and she hopes that in time Cora could be more merciful, her eyes filled with anger and sheer disappointment. She promises to keep the secret from Robert because she know that it can probably damage him but she adds that she keeps the secret not for Mary but for Robert's sake. She also tells Anna to conceal Mary's secret, and with that they leave the room. The next morning, Evelyn Napier says goodbye in the grounds to Cora, Cora asks whether they will see Napier
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 9.04.17 PM
Cora and Napier, before they bid goodbye to each other
again but he says that he is quite busy. He makes himself quite clear that he does not consider himself an interesting person and he believes that a woman who marries him but thinks that he is boring can never love him because he believes that marriage should be based on love. Cora compliments Napier that his instincts does him credit. Cora suggests that Mary gets to know New York to Violet but she says " Oh I don't think things are quite that desperate". Cora told Violet that Mary was upset upon the death of Pamuk, to Violet's confusion not knowing what secret Cora was carrying. Cora points out again that the Entail is unbreakable, confident that Mary cannot inherit. Cora orders Branson to take Sybill to Rippen tomorrow for a new frock. She says " So women's rights begin at home? Well I'm all for that" in Sybill's
Screen shot 2012-04-10 at 9.35.00 PM
Cora tries to comfort Mary
discussion on women. She also discusses schooling in America, saying how its very different in Britain because they are taught only French and how to curtsy. Cora follows Mary to her room to find her crying, she learns how sad and angry and jealous Mary is about Matthew. Cora keeps reassuring her that her family loves her but Mary breaks down and blames everything. Mary ends by saying " Things will look better earlier in the morning, isn't that what you always say" and she replies by saying " that's because its usually true." Cora then finishes by saying that she must not quarrel with Matthew because Mary might need him someday. Cora seems quite surprised in seeing her daughter Sybill wear a more boyish frock.

Behind the scenes

Cora Crawley is played by American actress Elizabeth McGovern. For her portrayal as Cora, McGovern has received general acclaim from professional critics, many deeming her as one of the biggest stand-outs on the show. McGovern has also nominated for several prime awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a TV Series or Miniseries or a Movie, making her one of only two actors in this show to be nominated for an Emmy award for acting, the other being Maggie Smith. In 2012 McGovern also nominated for the Golden Globe award for her performance.


  1. Levinson is a Jewish name, therefore Isidore is Jewish.
  2. It is unknown as to wether the aunt was from her mother's side or her father's side, or whether the aunt was by blood or by marriage, but Cora mentions in Episode 1.06, that she has an Aunt
  3. In episode 1, when Robert states that Mary would never be happy with a fortune hunter, Cora says "I was." thus showing that her marriage, despite Robert only marrying her for her money, was a happy one.
  4. Violet was married in 1868 and, in 1912, when her son is Earl, she says "I did not run Downton for 30 years to see it go, lock, stock and barrel, to a stranger from God knows where'", thus Patrick Crawley, 4th Earl of Grantham, must have died in 1898.
  5. "24 years ago, you married Cora, against my wishes, for her money. Give it away now, what was the point of your peculiar marriage in the first place?"; Violet says this in 1912 and this, thus, places Robert and Cora's marriage in 1888

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