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Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, dressed appropriately in violet, with a hat full of grapes!

Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, is a character on the series Downton Abbey. She was played for all six seasons, by Academy Award winning actress, Dame Maggie Smith.

Always has to have that last word!

Violet was the undisputed head of the Crawley family. She was married to one Patrick Crawley, the sixth Earl of Grantham, and from him, gave birth to two children, Robert, the seventh Earl of Grantham, and Rosamund, who married a man named Lord Marmaduke Painswick and lived in London.

For thirty years, she was known as the chatelaine, or the Lady of the house, of Downton Abbey. Until her husband's death, then she moved into the Dower House. Robert married an American heiress named Cora Levinson, whose dowry money helped save the estate.

Violet, called Granny, was the grandmother of three daughters, Mary; Edith and Sybil. She was also great-grandmother, called Granny Violet, of four, Sybil Branson, the second, called Sybbie by everyone, the daughter of Sybil and former chauffeur Tom Branson; Mary's son, George Crawley, who would, because of the death of his natural father, Matthew Crawley, would become the 8th Earl of Grantham, and her second child by her second husband, Henry Talbot; and Marigold Crawley, the illegitimate daughter of Edith and her publisher boss, Michael Gregson. No doubt she would have more grandchildren perhaps after Edith's marriage to Herbert "Bertie" Pelham.

At the Dower House, she has three servants, Mrs. Potter, the cook; Septimus Spratt, her butler, whom she often reprimanded for being aloof and snobbish; and a long list of lady's maids, of whom, Gladys Denker, was most prominent. She also had a housemaid named Betty.

Although usually ladies of the house would confide in their lady's maids, Violet did not confide in Denker, as she thought she was quite manipulative and troublemaking. She had a distant yet respectful working relationship with Spratt, although she found him quite stuffy and snobbish.

The widowed Violet was known for her very sharp tongue, her tendency to get her own way in everything and to ALWAYS have the last word on everything. Despite this, she was very loyal and protective of her family, although at times, she could and would do some rather ugly things to make sure the family was "protected". A prime example of it was her demolishing Edith's marriage to Sir Anthony Strallan.

She, like her son Robert, to some extent, Mary, and Charles Carson, the butler (who began during her time as chatelaine as a footman and later on to being butler), yearns for things to be as they were, pre-war, which was a world without electricity, where dinners were always white tie and tails and evening gowns and tiaras; and where everyone knew their place and stuck to it.

Violet has very few friends, but her closest crony, for the most part, would be Isobel Crawley Grey, the mother of the late heir apparent, Matthew, whom she considered her closest confidante, as she could and would talk family to her, and they could be equals although the two would sometimes squabble over things.

Although she never thought she would, she would become friends with Tom, and trusted him to be discreet. She considered him the most practical member of the family. In fact, it was her idea to have him help Mary learn about the estate, as well as suggesting that Tom become the Estate Agent, as he had more practical experience with farming, as he came from a farming family in Ireland. She loved her family, but she also knew their weaknesses and foibles.

Although she would love to see things returned to what the world was like before the war, she slowly embraced change.

Her biggest foil, even more so than Isobel, was Martha Levinson, Cora's mother, who always knew how to get under her skin. They respected one another, but did not get along well at all. Martha tended to flaunt her modernity towards Violet and would also throw very barbed comments toward Violet, knowing that it would get under her skin, although Violet could give as good as she got.

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