Edith Josephine Pelham, Marchioness of Hexham (née Crawley; b. 1892) is the second daughter of Robert and Cora Crawley, sister of Lady Mary Talbot and the late Lady Sybil Branson, granddaughter of Violet Crawley, sister-in-law of Tom Branson, Henry Talbot, and the late Matthew Crawley, and the aunt to her nephew, George Crawley and her nieces, Sybbie Branson and Caroline Talbot.
Her father's sister, Lady Rosamund Painswick and her deceased husband Marmaduke Painswick are Edith's aunt and uncle. Also, her mother's brother, Harold Levinson, is her uncle. She is second cousins with Lady Rose Aldridge, Rose's sister Lady Annabelle and James MacClare, Earl of Newtonmore, and her second cousin-in-law is Rose's husband Atticus Aldridge, and her first-cousin-once-removed is Rose's mother, Susan MacClare, wife of Hugh MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire.
In 1925, she married Herbert "Bertie" Pelham, 7th Marquess of Hexham. As the Marchioness of Hexham she outranks the members of her immediate family, including her mother and father. She has a daughter, Marigold, with her deceased lover, Michael Gregson, and in 1927 she revealed she's pregnant with Bertie's child. in 1928, it is revealed that she gave birth to a son, named Peter, who remained at Brancaster Castle under the care of a nanny while his parents visited Downton Abbey and then while they traveled to France.
Edith has strawberry blonde waves, delicate lips, a light complexion, a long nose and a slim figure. Although she is not considered as beautiful as her sisters, Mary Talbot and Sybil Branson, and her second cousin Rose Aldridge, she is always glamorous and fashionable, particularly in the later seasons.
Edith's greatest struggle in life has been to stand out and be appreciated for her own talents. Of four prospective romantic relationships (Patrick, Strallan, Gregson and Bertie Pelham), each failed to materialize into something happy or lasting, until Bertie Pelham. It has gotten to the point where she is described as 'Poor Edith,' due to the amount of suffering and heartache she goes through. However, this finally ended when Edith married Bertie Pelham, the new Marquess of Hexham when he apologized for his behaviour and asked her to give him another chance. Years of resentment have built a fierce rivalry between her and her sister Mary to whom she displays her mean, jealous, and cruel side.
However, Edith is a survivor (if something of a notoriously bad planner) and she continues to dream of a life filled with love and a family of her own and remains in pursuit of that. While concerned about class distinctions, like every woman of her status in that era would be, Edith has never let them stop her, in between attempts to help others or prove her worth. She learns how to drive and volunteers at the Drake family farm, tends to the wounded as head of non-medical welfare when Downton Abbey is a convalescent home, fought to have William Mason brought to Downton and then attended to him in his dying days, and wrote a popular editorial column before eventually running the magazine despite protests from her family. Years of change and loss have seen a softening of Lady Edith. She is less snobbish and more devoted to her family, even going as far as to make greater efforts to have a happier relationship with Mary which they do to some extent.
After taking over The Sketch magazine business, she has become much more independent and involved with affairs outside Downton Abbey. Due to disagreements with her chief editor, she has learned to be more assertive and more savvy about the business world.
Patrick, but she stood no chance to win his affection once the beautiful Mary decided to pursue him. Everyone favoured the engagement to keep the money in the immediate family, despite the fact that Mary was no more than fond of Patrick. After initially trying to woo Matthew Crawley, she begins a relationship with Sir Anthony Strallan. Towards the end of series one he is on the verge of asking for her hand, but changes his mind when Mary implies that Edith was simply leading him on for her own amusement. At the time Anthony Strallan seemed to be Edith's last chance at making a successful marriage, and Mary intentionally intervened in revenge, because Edith had written a letter to the Turkish Embassy in London informing them about the exact nature of their attaché's death in Mary's bed.
During the second series Edith steps out of her comfort zone. She was the first of the Crawley family to learn how to drive an automobile, taking lessons from the family chauffeur Tom Branson. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Edith uses her driving skills to work on a local farm driving tractors, much to the bemusement and gratitude of the farmer. She starts a relationship with him, eventually sharing a kiss, although his wife is an unknown spectator to their embrace. She receives a letter shortly after this saying that her services will not be needed at their farm anymore. Edith is at first saddened by this, because she felt she had a purpose working on the farm. She decides to ask her sister Sybil what to do about her situation and Sybil encourages her to work as a convalescent helper. She is cheered by this, although it exposes her to the horrors of war first hand while helping Sybil and the nurses care for the wounded soldiers. As a result she becomes more sympathetic and is commended by a visiting general Matthew brought back to Downton while on leave. When an injured veteran claiming to be the late Patrick Crawley comes to Downton to convalesce, Edith believes his story. He tells her he always knew she loved him and wants to marry her once the family accepts him again. Edith believes "Patrick" whereas most in her family do not. When Patrick suddenly leaves, he leaves her a note that reads: "Dear Edith, It was too difficult. I am sorry. P. Gordon." She cries that they drove him away by not believing him.
Sir Anthony Strallan eventually proposes to Lady Edith and they become engaged. Some of the family doesn't really approve of the marriage, but they allow it for Edith's happiness. They are set to marry but Anthony has second thoughts and jilts her at the altar, leaving Edith devastated, believing she is destined to the life of a spinster. However in episode 6, she receives a very interesting proposition to write in a newspaper. Her family of course do not approve with the exception of Matthew and Tom. She wants to move on and make something of her life, so she accepts an offer from the editor of the Sketch, Michael Gregson, to write in a regular column on issues which modern women are faced with. It soon becomes clear that Gregson is attracted to her. However, it is revealed that he is married to a woman who has been confined for years to a mental asylum due to insanity without any chance of divorce. On learning about this, Edith wants to resign her new position but reconsiders after he pleads with her to stay on.Scotland, Michael makes the decision to follow Edith. He stays not too far away from Duneagle Castle, claiming he is attending a sketching and fishing holiday which causes Mary and Matthew to become quite wary of him. Cora and Robert decide to invite Gregson to dinner at the castle because Cora expresses a desire to meet him. At this dinner, Edith asks Michael why he is there, causing him to profess his love for her and that the reason he followed is because he wants her family to accept him. She tells him she does not see a happy ending for them. After an afternoon fishing with Matthew, he determines that Michael's love is good and honest and he and Mary agree that they think he is going to propose. However, upon discovering that Michael has an insane wife who he cannot divorce, he decides Michael is wrong to pursue Edith and tells him to say his last farewell to her that evening. He does so, but is surprised when Edith tells him she doesn't want this to be their last evening together because she does love him.
railway station. At the party, Edith and Michael, during a moment together, almost kiss before another guest interrupts them.
She later attends dinner alone with him at the Criterion where he tells her some of his plans to get a divorce. He tells her that, in Germany, he can be granted a divorce on the grounds that his spouse is mentally ill. This means he would have to become a citizen of Germany. Edith seemed surprised to hear that Michael would be willing to move countries for her and become German for her, especially so soon after the Great War. They then kiss without worry of being seen in the restaurant.Before Edith left London to return to Downton, Michael tells her although he has begun the long process of becoming a German citizen, he also wishes to try and gain her father's approval before their marriage because he thinks this is the only way they can have a future together. She suggests he visit Downton but he is a little worried about that. She suggests he attend an upcoming party at Downton, which he agrees to do. While he is there, she tries to encourage her father to talk to him more. Later, as Michael prepares to leave for Munich to finalize his citizenship change and divorce, she signs a document he gives her, entitling her to more control over his own assets. He starts kissing her, and she ultimately does not resist. They spend the night together. Unfortunately, her Aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick confronts her after her maid spots Edith returning to the house at six in the morning. Edith defends Michael and insists she trusts him, and is upset when Rosamund reminds her of what happened between her and Sir Anthony Strallan. Edith is upset by this, saying it was unkind. She also does not feel sorry for her night with Michael, but Rosamund warns her that one day she may be sorry, because, she insists, not everything will change.
But after Michael leaves for Germany, time goes by and Edith receives no word from him and has no idea what has become of him. Her mother at first remarks he is probably busy. Her father is certain Michael will be fine, both he and Violet ultimately telling her to be patient. Nevertheless, Edith loses hope of seeing Michael again, but she still wants to know what happened to him.
Edith has lied to her mother about why Michael has gone to Germany, remarking he was sight-seeing. She later makes a secret trip to London to see a Dr Goldman. Later, as Edith's worries intensify, Cora assures her daughter that if something terrible had happened they would have heard by now. Then one night Edith receives a letter in the evening post from Dr Goldman.
She realizes she is pregnant with Michael's child. Robert tries to comfort her later when he finds her distraught. But she pushes him away, insisting that whatever he might say about his love for her, that she was never loved as much by him as her sisters. Rosamund later asks her what is troubling her. Edith confesses the truth, including that she has been considering getting an abortion for fear of becoming an outcast, despite loving Michael still and having wanted this child. She goes to the clinic with Rosamund (who is opposed to Edith's decision), but then decides at the last minute not to do it after seeing another woman there crying. She admits that the truth will soon break out among the rest of her family.
But by the time of the local bazaar, the family still does not know about Edith's condition. Rosamund suggests Edith travel to the continent, to Switzerland, ostensibly to "learn French" but in truth to give birth and then have someone adopt her child without anyone in England knowing. Edith is not too happy about this plan because she wants to be a part of her child's life and upbringing.
When Rosamund visits Downton for the bazaar and mentions the possibility of going abroad and taking Edith with her, Mary questions Edith, citing she never wanted to learn French and immediately suspecting it is an "incognito" search for Michael. Tom reminds her that it is a serious situation, for which Edith thanks him. Violet soon sees through this plan but agrees with Rosamund. She promises to remain silent about Edith's secret and support her. Still, Edith is in despair, beginning to wonder if God does not want her to be happy.Timothy Drewe and his wife. Her hopes are dashed further at seeing Michael again, and she feels she owes something to their child, knowing that Michael has given her power of attorney in his absence, and may well have left her everything in his will.
Edith regularly visits Yew Tree Farm to see her daughter Marigold. Her visits make Margie Drewe suspicious of her attachment to both her husband and Marigold. Mr Drewe later asks Edith to meet him and tells her of this suspicion. Edith accidentally tells Drewe that Marigold is her daughter, by saying, "Well, that's better than the real reason." Drewe then reveals he had known about the connection since she asked him to take Marigold in. She asks him if he thinks she should control her feelings. He tells her he could but doesn't feel she should, because in his opinion, mothers should love their children. He says she needs a way to live the truth without telling the truth.
Whilst overseeing some maids, Mrs Hughes finds a misplaced German primer book that belonged to Michael Gregson, and decides to return it to Edith, who asks for it to be left in her bedroom. Gazing at both her daughter's photograph and Michael's signature in the book, grief overcomes her and she throws the book, and it lands too close to the fire. Fortunately Thomas Barrow is patrolling the gallery later on, smells the smoke and, after raising the alarm, carries her to safety. The fire brigade, led by Drewe, eventually arrives and puts out the fire before any damage beyond Edith's room is done. As her bedroom is ruined, Edith sleeps in her father's dressing room. She tells her mother that she feels so stupid for starting the fire, but Cora dismisses it.
Edith goes to thank Drewe, and he tells her he has come up with a way for her to take a greater interest in Marigold, but Mrs Hughes is nearby and overhears their conversation. Later she and Anna, while Edith's room is being cleaned, find the photograph of Marigold as a baby underneath Edith's pillow. Anna gives it to Mrs Hughes, who holds onto it.
Mr Drewe proposes making Edith a benefactor for Marigold, perhaps even a godparent. His wife however objects, remarking that her sister was named godmother to Marigold at her christening. She also, not knowing the truth, feels Edith is treating Marigold like a doll and notes, like Edith's family, that she might lose interest in Marigold someday. Drewe insists she won't lose interest, but Mrs Drewe isn't convinced. Robert remarks that maybe Edith is doing this because she needs someone to love, with everyone coming to the conclusion that Michael Gregson is most likely dead.
One day, Edith agrees to look after Marigold while Margie is out. Margie returns to find the house empty, only to see her husband, Edith, and Marigold admiring pigs. Edith takes her leave, but Margie insists now that Edith cannot have their child. She even accuses her husband of being soft for Edith now. He angrily replies she is the one who is soft, soft in the head.
Later, he goes to Downton while the family are entertaining Russian refugees. Edith admits that she may have annoyed Margie, but Drewe tells her now that she must stay away, not forever but for now she must stay away. Edith takes the news very hard and goes past Mrs Hughes and Anna to her room in tears. But when Rosamund and Violet discover Edith brought Marigold back from Switzerland, they propose sending her to a boarding school in France. Edith is horrified and tries to persuade her grandmother that there must be a way for Marigold to remain in her life. When she fails, she instantly begins making a plan of her own.
After Edith receives word that Michael is dead, she decides to leave Downton Abbey while her family are at the races (except for Tom, whom she says goodbye to before she leaves but does not explain where or why she is going). Edith then goes to the Drewe's cottage and explains to Mrs Drewe that she is Marigold's mother, showing her a copy of Marigold's birth certificate (she had signed it with her real name rather than a false one as Rosamund wanted her to do, because she knew she might need proof one day). Although Mrs Drewe does not take the news well at first, she accepts it and allows Edith to leave with Marigold, giving her the girl's teddy bear. Edith then travels to London (presumably) to a hotel room she had booked, and plans to celebrate her newfound happiness with Marigold, for although she admits being together is currently "not ideal" it is still "such an improvement on being apart."
Cora then learns the truth about Edith and Marigold from Mrs Drewe. She is furious with Rosamund and Violet for keeping her in the dark about her third grandchild, and for learning that it was their suggestion of sending Marigold away that drove Edith to run off. She insists that they must find her and listen to what she wants.
Rose's suitor Atticus Aldridge suggests they should contact the London office of Gregson's publishing company, which Edith had inherited. As hoped, they find Edith there. She is upset that Cora has learned the truth, while Cora is disappointed in Edith using Mrs Drewe the way she did. Edith insists she is not coming back, but agrees to talk to her mother privately after Cora threatens to openly discuss the situation in front of Edith's new employees.
Edith reveals she was at first considering going to America, dropping her title and inventing a dead husband. But she chose not to go through with that plan for two reasons: she would prefer Marigold grew up English, and she does not want to let the magazine business fall into ruin. She was then considering passing Marigold off as her orphan godchild. Cora instead asks that she bring Marigold home, on the pretense that she is adopting her because the Drewes can no longer afford to raise their friend's child. Rosamund protests, but Edith agrees, insisting that neither her father nor Mary can ever know the truth.
Mary objects to the plan, but Edith successfully "adopts" Marigold and begins raising her in Downton. Robert soon figures out the truth due to Edith's "obsession" with Marigold and the girl's resemblance to Gregson, but Cora asks him to not say a word, even to Edith, for a little while longer. Robert agrees and thinks he will love his new granddaughter.Brancaster Castle in Northumberland, Robert reveals to Edith that he knows about Marigold and says they will do their best for her, for both Edith's and Gregson's sake. Edith is visibly touched by her father's kindness, and later Tom reveals to her that he too has figured out who Marigold is, and agrees to keep silent too. She also befriends Brancaster's agent, Bertie Pelham.
Edith receives a telephone call from her editor, Mr Skinner. Cora asks if there was a problem, to which Edith responds that "there is always a problem," and that Skinner does not like working for a woman. Edith and Rosamund visit her new London apartment that she inherited from Michael, and discuss Edith's future. Edith visits Mallerton Hall with her family.
Edith goes to London again, this time receiving more problems from her troublesome editor Mr Skinner. However it was a problem closer to home that reaches a breaking point for Edith. Her sister Mary took Marigold and Mrs Drewe was very overcome, which meant that she has definitely not gotten over Marigold, even though its been months since the little girl left Yew Tree Farm. Edith then later attended the Moulton Fat Stock show with her entire family, which ended in tragedy when Marigold went missing. Mr Drewe then suspected his wife of taking Marigold back to their home as she and their family truck were also missing. Edith along with her parents and Mr Drewe drive to Yew Tree Farm where Mr Drewe reclaims Marigold back and hands the little girl back to Edith. Edith is overjoyed when she is back. Later the Drewes leave Yew Tree Farm and Edith thinks it to be for the best so as to avoid any more problems.
Edith then goes up to London again to check on the Sketch magazine but when she heard that the articles need to be printed by 4 am and Mr Skinner hasn't really done anything much, she fires him. Luckily for her, she meets an old acquaintance Bertie Pelham, whom she danced with at Brancaster castle. Bertie asked her out for a drink but when she told him she couldn't and why, Bertie immediately offers to stay up late and help her out.
Fortunately after long hours of work, the magazine articles are printed and are sent to be delivered. Edith thanks Bertie and is very grateful for his help. The two discuss Edith's purpose of being an editor whilst having coffee. In the aftermath, Edith attends the wedding of Carson and Mrs Hughes, where she along with the rest of her family are overjoyed at seeing Tom coming back and staying at Downton for good. She later opts to appoint a woman editor for her magazine.
Edith meets Bertie Pelham in London again where they discuss their own personal lives. Edith then invites Bertie to her flat for pre-dinner cocktails while he can pick where they're going for dinner. Bertie and Edith discuss recent events while drinking cocktails and get ready to go. Bertie helps Edith with her evening fur coat, and Edith asks him how he knew to choose the Cafe de Paris, since that was her favourite place. Bertie admits that he knew they liked the same things which made Edith turn around to look at him admirably and staring into his lips. Without thinking, Bertie kisses her. Bertie then admits his feelings for Edith to which she is amazed. She along with the rest of her family, are shocked when Lord Grantham vomits out blood due to a burst ulcer.
Edith invites Bertie to attend Downton's open house event to raise money for the local hospital. Edith meets Bertie at the drive, where they kiss again. She later takes him to the night nursery where she shows him Sybbie, George and Marigold.
Later on Edith invites her new editor Laura Edmunds to join her family and Bertie Pelham in seeing Henry Talbot race at Brooklands. Whilst they were watching, the event ended in tragedy due to Charlie Roger's death in a car accident. The family along with their guests have dinner at Rosamund's house. Edith and Bertie talk in the drawing room during the small hours where Bertie proposes to Edith. Edith is glad but she has yet to give him a proper answer although she asks if she can take Marigold with them, putting of the reason that she is very fond of her without revealing the real reason why. They then kiss before Bertie leaves.
Edith debates on whether to accept Bertie Pelham because he is now the new Marquess of Hexham due to his cousin Peter's unfortunate death in Tangiers. Everyone is delighted except for Mary, who plans revenge on her sister. Edith is afraid about telling Bertie the truth about Marigold, but Mary "accidentally" corners Edith into revealing to Bertie the fact that Marigold is her daughter. Bertie excuses himself and calls for a taxi. He breaks off their engagement when they talk later before he is due to leave, where he admits that he would still have married her even if what Edith had told him about Marigold was true, but, as she later put it herself, she tried to trick him, and he couldn't marry someone who couldn't trust him with the truth. Regardless, they wish each other good luck for the future, and Edith, who is heartbroken, decides to go to London. As she is packing her things, Mary comes into her bedroom and tries to apologise to Edith by claiming that she didn't know that Edith never told Bertie about Marigold. Edith, who is completely furious, lashes out her true feelings towards Mary by calling her a nasty, jealous and scheming b*tch twice. Edith then leaves for London and picks up Tom along the way, she feels that Bertie will not come around about her supposed trickery towards him.
Edith meets with her secretary and her new editor, and they find out that Cassandra Jones, an individual who is interested in writing for Edith's magazine, is visiting the office for an interview. All three are unsure if that individual is the "real" Cassandra Jones, so if they feel that the latter is the real person, they agree on the code word "bananas." Cassandra Jones turns out to be Spratt, Violet's butler.
Edith comes back to Downton for Mary's wedding to Henry Talbot, and after a rather sweet conversation, they reconcile.
After Mary's wedding, Edith smilingly watches Sybbie, George and especially Marigold play tag and running around her late sister Sybil's grave.
Edith and Bertie meet up at The Ritz, a plan orchestrated by Mary and her aunt Rosamund who plays along. Rosamund then leaves and Edith and Bertie find themselves alone dining together. Edith is initially disappointed to see Bertie again and revealed that he broke her heart, but she did understand why he did it. However Bertie is apologetic and claims that he still loves Edith and wants her back to marry him. He tells her that he would have come back even if Mary hadn't telephoned him, and also that his mother doesn't know that they ended their relationship, and Edith says they have. But she claims that she has Marigold and Bertie has his mother and asks if he'd be able to withstand the gossip they would receive about Marigold and debating whether to tell his mother. Bertie however says that he still wants Edith regardless and they initially planned to keep his mother in the dark regarding Marigold. With their engagement back on, Bertie invites Edith and her parents, Lord and Lady Grantham to Brancaster Castle to meet his formidable mother. Mrs Pelham is delighted and suddenly reveals her moralistic personality and how she expects her son to live up to it. During this time, she also reveals her dislike of the late Lord Hexham, and says he had no morale sense to which Bertie sternly shuts her down for. Lord and Lady Grantham are shocked by Mrs Pelham's behaviour. Edith then decides to tell Mrs Pelham of her past regarding Marigold being her illegitimate daughter. Although Mrs Pelham is against the marriage, referring to Edith as damaged goods and she knows it herself, Bertie stands up to his mother and claims he will marry Edith nonetheless. Then at dinner, various guests of the nobility are invited as Bertie plans to announce his engagement to Edith. Mrs Pelham interrupts him before he can do so, thanking everyone for being there and showing her support. Bertie then stands again, still intending to announce his engagement. However, Robert whispers to Mrs Pelham that she should speak now or she'll lose her son forever, so she interrupts Bertie again and announces that Bertie is to marry Edith. After the dinner is over, Mrs Pelham is won over and claims that Edith is a woman of birth and brains and was unimpeachably honest with her, having been willing to deny herself happiness instead of getting glory by deceit and thus should be applauded.After arriving home, Edith thanks Mary for what she did to bring her and Bertie back together. On New Years Eve, 1925, Bertie and Edith finally get married with everyone in attendance, including Bertie's mother, at the St Michael's church at Downton. When Edith tells Mrs Pelham she hoped she wouldn't disappoint her, the latter replies by telling her to just love her son, and she wouldn't be disappointed in that. Bertie and Edith then leave for their honeymoon and share a happy kiss in the car as they drive away.
Although Mary was set to marry Patrick before his death on the Titanic, Edith had true feelings for him and was deeply upset by the news of his death; it is unknown if Patrick had any romantic feelings for Edith (as it is never confirmed that Patrick Gordon was Patrick Crawley), but Anna tells Mr Bates that it must have been hard for Edith to love someone who did not love her back. This is contrasted with Mary's reaction of relief about being released from a loveless engagement, as shown by her annoyance at having to wear black in mourning.
Edith decides to go after Matthew following Mary's initial rejection of him as a suitor. Matthew has eyes only for Mary, and clearly has no interest in Edith's advances. When Mary begins to return the affection, Edith is once again left alone.
After Matthew and Mary wed, Matthew treats Edith like a sister. He encourages her to become a journalist and then tells Michael Gregson he will not let her slide into a life of scandal (meaning become Michael's lover) "without lifting a finger to stop it" after learning about his insane wife, but also says Michael should use the Gillies Ball to say a proper good-bye to Edith, telling Michael he owed her that.Matthew told Edith he would not tell Mary about Michael, but hoped Gregson made it clear what had to happen, meaning he had to stop pursuing her. Edith told Matthew "we both know what happens next" which he did not know actually meant she had decided her relationship with Michael was not over.
Originally invited to Downton as a suitor for Mary, Edith enjoyed Sir Anthony's company. To her delight, Sir Anthony is more interested in her than in Mary. They go on many drives together in Season 1. Yet when Sir Anthony was looking for Edith in order to propose, Mary takes revenge for the exposure of the scandal regarding Kemal Pamuk by making him believe the love is unrequited. In the Christmas special, a now injured Strallan forbids Edith from thinking they might be together, because he's far too old, and a cripple. She disagrees, and says that she "won't give up on anyone who calls her lovely." In the third season, she tells him she would like to see more of him, to which he replies he should like that very much, probably more than he ought to. He also tells her at one point that she has given him back his life, and she kisses him on the cheek. Unfortunately, her grandmother does not approve and tells her father to tell Strallan to stay away. Strallan is willing, but Edith is devastated. She seeks solace from her American grandmother Martha who is visiting at the time. Martha and Edith manage to persuade Robert to relent and give the marriage the go-ahead. A lavish wedding ceremony is laid on for the two of them, but at the altar Strallan chooses not to go through with it. Still at the altar, Edith is stunned, apparently unable to cope, when her grandmother Violet steps in and says that by abandoning the wedding Strallan had done "the only sensible thing ... in months". Edith is initially devastated by this experience, and seems to think she will always be alone, saying, "I’m a useful spinster, good at helping out. That is my role."
Edith gets along with Sybil better than her eldest sister Mary. Edith does not initially agree with Sybil's politics in Series One, because she believes they will cause her harm in the end. In Series Two, she asks Sybil for advice on what to do to make her feel useful again. Sybil suggests finding her strength, and Edith becomes a convalescent helper. Edith went with Mary and Anna to try and bring Sybil back to Downton when she elopes with Branson. Together with her sister Mary, she attended Sybil and Tom's wedding in Dublin. When Sybil dies, Edith is horrified and left heartbroken. She, in honour of her younger sister's memory, encourages Tom and his newly-born daughter Sybbie to stay at Downton for as long as they need.
Edith has always shown that she was jealous of Mary, because she was beautiful and easy in conversation, and thus received the majority of the attention. Edith tried to make life hard for her in season one. After Edith had been out competed for the attention of Patrick Crawley and Matthew Crawley. Edith challenges Mary that she cannot take Sir Anthony's attention. Mary proves her wrong and in retaliation Edith exposes her sister's Kemal Pamuk scandal, by writing a letter to the Turkish Embassy. In season two the sisters seem to get along a lot better with each other, probably as a result of their newly developed maturity. They perform in a talent show for the convalescents together, to which all the family is surprised. Edith plays the piano and Mary sings.
On Edith's wedding day, Mary acknowledged that they had not gotten along well in the past but that she wished Edith happiness on this day, which brought out a smile in Edith (especially when Mary gave her a sisterly kiss). Mary, like the rest of the family, was genuinely upset and heartbroken for Edith when Sir Anthony Strallan jilted her at the altar. When Sybil died Edith asked Mary if their relationship would ever get better. Mary doubted it would, but that for now they should "love each other now, as sisters should." They shared a hug.Mary supported Edith's decision to become a journalist, but treats her editor Michael Gregson with contempt and suspicion. Following Matthew's death, Mary becomes cold toward Edith again, later saying her sister is "about as mysterious as a bucket." In 1923, when presented with the possibility of sharing a room with Edith in Grantham House, Mary said she would rather sleep on the roof than share with Edith.
Edith receives an offer to write a newspaper column from Gregson. Eventually an attraction develops between them, but Edith soon learns he is already married. She confronts him and insists on resigning, repulsed by a married man flirting with her. However, Gregson explains to her that his wife, whom he loved very much, has been in an asylum for years and no longer knows him. When she asks him why he has not divorced her, he explains he cannot because his wife cannot be deemed responsible in the eyes of the law simply because she is a lunatic; she is neither the guilty nor innocent party. After he professes how much it means to him to read her column and meet her, she stays on.
She meets him again in Scotland in September 1921 while holidaying there with her family at Duneagle Castle. Mary and Matthew then disagree over his motives for pursuing Edith. When Michael reveals he loves her she insists that she cannot see a happy ending with him. Nevertheless she does ask Matthew of his opinion of Michael after the two men had gone deer stalking, and defends Michael against Mary's cruelty towards him. While fly fishing, Michael confides in Matthew about his wife. Their conversation convinces Matthew of Gregson's deep love and honesty towards Edith, but he finds the prospect of Gregson's future liaison with Edith socially unacceptable. Matthew tells them that he will say nothing for now, but that if they pursue a relationship he cannot remain silent. He effectively instructs Gregson to put an end to his courtship and say good-bye to Edith. True to his word, Matthew does not tell anyone. Gregson does try to say goodbye to Edith, but she insists that it is not their last evening, that she is now absolutely sure that she loves him.She reunites with him again in 1922 at King's Cross after the family's mourning period for Matthew's death. She not only continues writing for the Sketch, but she dines with Michael at the Criterion and later visits him at his flat. At a party there she meets many of his literary friends, including author Virginia Woolf.
When she learns of his plans to become a German citizen in order to divorce his wife and marry her, she is worried that people will hate him, citing that the royal family themselves had renounced their German heritage. Nevertheless he is undeterred, especially when she assures him she will love him more than ever. She then asks Michael to come to Downton and get to know her family even more. Then she returns to Downton again, but admitting "it is getting harder to say no" - meaning to stay the night with him. She eventually does stay the night with him, creeping back into her Aunt Rosamund's house in the early hours of the morning. She is seen by a servant who tells Rosamund. Rosamund then confronts her, warning her to be careful but promises she will not tell anyone.After Michael leaves for Germany, Edith doesn't hear from him again. She soon learns no one else knows where he is, with both his office and the police looking for him. She worries for his safety, but wants to know the truth. Later she admits to her father however when they may be close to learning the truth, as long as she does not know for certain the truth "in a way I'm keeping him alive. I hate to let go of that." She is in despair when she hears he has died. She inherits his publishing company, and raises their daughter.
Edith loves her daughter very deeply. After Michael disappeared following their one-night stand, Edith secretly went to a doctor in London, and later received confirmation that she was in the first trimester of pregnancy. Wishing not to be an outcast to her family and society, she decides that she will have an abortion even though she loves Michael and wants his child. After seeing a woman cry at the clinic however, she decides that she loves Michael enough to keep the child.
She is presented with the proposition of giving birth in another country then having the child adopted, a thought which troubles her as she does not want to give up the child. By 1923 she had given birth to a baby girl in Genéva having planned to leave her with an adoptive family. Later Edith decides she can not do this and plans to return to Switzerland, retrieve her child and put her in the care of the Drewe family at Yew Tree Farm, which she does.She visits the farm repeatedly to see her daughter, and is later distraught when Mrs Drewe keeps her away out of fear that she considers the child like a plaything. Edith proves her love for Marigold even more when she chooses her daughter over her family and reputation by reclaiming her and running away following news of Gregson's death and her aunt and grandmother's plans to take the child abroad again. But they later return as foster-mother and daughter, but Edith's affection for Marigold remains strong - even when going to London for Rose's wedding she feels guilt for leaving Marigold behind and thinks about her all the time.
Tom taught Edith to drive after the Great War began. When Tom became engaged to her younger sister, like her elder sister she tried to persuade Sybil to back out. But when Tom married Sybil she began to treat him with courtesy and respect. She was at his wedding, just as he was there when she was supposed to wed Anthony Strallan. She, like Tom (and the rest of the family), mourned deeply when Sybil and their brother-in-law Matthew passed.
Tom defends Edith from Mary's teasing in 1922 when Rosamund takes her to the continent (not knowing Edith was pregnant with Michael Gregson's child). By 1923 they appear to have grown much closer. At the ball at Grantham House, Tom speaks to Edith, where he clearly thinks of himself and her as the rebels in the family. He tells her they need to stand up to them, that however much they love them they must fight their corner or be defeated by the rest of the family. Edith is inspired by his words to go back to the continent and reclaim her daughter. She tells Tom he is right, and thanks him (without telling him specifically why).Before she leaves Downton, she tells Tom he is a fine man and that if she could talk to anyone about her situation it would be him, signifying how much she trusts him, and gives him a kiss on the cheek. He encourages her after she returns to get more involved in the running of the magazine business she has inherited, saying she is "clever, and a good writer". Edith tells him that while Mary talks like she is the only one who would miss him if he moves to America (which he had been considering strongly), she would miss him too. And he tells her he would miss her.
Edith becomes closer to Rosamund as she spends more time in London and stays at her house, 35 Belgrave Square. Edith is unhappy with Rosamund following her night with Michael Gregson, but when Edith becomes pregnant Rosamund is the first to know the secret (because Edith was in London with the intent of having an abortion, for fear of becoming a social outcast for having an illegitimate child).
Rosamund comforts Edith and pledges to support her, despite Edith's fears that Rosamund and the rest of the family will shun her. Though she advises against the abortion, Rosamund is with Edith when she goes before leaving. Rosamund proposes going to the continent and giving the child up for adoption so that Edith will be free.Edith is not happy however with having giving her child up in Geneva, Switzerland. Rosamund on the other hand becomes cold again, insisting to Edith that she must move on and forget the child. Though she does feel for her when she grieves in fear for Michael, Rosamund insists that this is for the best. But Edith in the end chooses to reclaim her daughter and have her raised on a farm nearby (which Rosamund opposed).
Edith first meets Bertie at Brancaster Castle, standing with him as he shoots and later accepting his request to a dance. They are friendly towards each other, and grow closer after they meet again in London, when Bertie helps Edith get the latest issue of her magazine ready. Bertie is clearly interested in her, and kisses her when they meet again in London.
Edith invites Bertie to Downton at her mother's suggestion, and later when the whole family is invited to watch a race at Brooklands by Henry Talbot, she changes her mind about going when her brother-in-law mentions Henry's inviting Bertie, showing she's keen on seeing him again. After Charlie Rogers dies, Edith and Bertie comfort one another, and when Bertie proposes, Edith is in her own words, "thrilled" and "delighted". She later tells her mother she loves Bertie and would accept him immediately if not for Marigold.
She is torn about telling him the truth of who Marigold is, as she's afraid she'll lose him either way, either through marriage or before it can happen. She tries to tell him but cannot bring herself to, and unfortunately her sister lets slip the truth before Edith can do so, thus losing Bertie's trust. She is saddened, but blames herself, certain Bertie won't forgive her.Edith is hesitant about getting back together with him when Mary sets them up in London, but Bertie insists he knows now he cannot live a life without her, and she is visibly overcome with emotion. She tells her father she's in love with him more than ever, and that she adores him. Following their wedding, she is "completely happy" - something she feels she she's never experienced before - and goes off on with him on their honeymoon.
Branson taught Edith to drive and as a result she offers her services to Longfield Farm to drive the tractor. Although first surprised by the offer, Mr and Mrs Drake soon accept. John Drake falls for Edith, tells her that she is beautiful, and she shares her first kiss with him. However, Mrs Drake sees them and Edith is later informed by letter that she is no longer needed on the farm, that they have found someone else to help.
When a severely burnt soldier, Patrick Gordon, arrives at Downton from Canada with claims to be Patrick Crawley, no one but Edith believes him. She spends lots of time with him reminiscing about their childhood and tries to convince the others that after the Titanic sunk he suffered from amnesia so they mistook him as Canadian, where he took his name from a bottle. It apparently wasn’t until he was blasted in war that he completely remembered about Downton. Worried that Matthew Crawley would not be the future heir, Robert Crawley investigates the matter and finds out that one of Patrick Crawley’s friends, Peter Gordon, emigrated to Canada a year after the sinking of the Titanic. Shortly afterwards, the soldier says goodbye to Edith in a letter. She still believes he was her cousin, and the whole thing leaves her devastated.
Timothy Drewe is a tenant farmer on the Crawley estate and has a wife and several children. In the summer of 1923 Edith asks him to take in her daughter and raise her with his wife, saying that she will pay him whatever he wants. She tells him that the child is the daughter of a friend of hers whose parents are dead and that she cannot raise the child at Downton Abbey as her parents did not approve of the friendship. She urges him to keep it a secret. He says that it can be a secret just between the two of them. Timothy suggests that he will write a letter to himself saying that a friend of his has died and left this child alone so that even his own wife will not know the real origins of the child. Edith is deeply touched that Drewe would keep her secret for her, commenting on how good it is to know there are some decent people in the world.
Spoken by Lady Edith
- "Marigold is my daughter..." - Reluctantly to Herbert Pelham
- "I know you! I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming b*tch!!" - to her sister Lady Mary Crawley over Mary's forcing her to reveal to Bertie Pelham that Marigold is her daughter.
- "I'm always a failure in this family" - on her place in the Crawley family.
- "I love him. I'd accept him in a trice if it weren't for Marigold" - to her mother, Cora, on Herbert Pelham.
- "The fact is, I'd like a life" - to Lady Rosamund Painswick.
- "Because, in the end, you're my sister. And one day only we will remember Sybil, or Mama or Papa, or Matthew or Michael, or Grannie or Carson, or any of the others that have peopled our youth, until at last our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike." -to Mary
- "I know now I need a purpose."
- "I refuse to be defeated by a petulant and overweight tyrant!" -about firing her editor.
About Lady Edith
- "So are you planning to get things settled with Lady Edith before you leave?"- Mary to Bertie.
- "I don't think I can spend my life with someone I can't trust."- Bertie
- "But Edith is damaged goods! I do not dislike her, but she's ruled herself out of the running; and what is more, she knows it!" -Mrs. Pelham to her son about Edith having born an illegitimate child.
- "Just love him. I won't be disappointed in that." - Mrs. Pelham to her daughter-in-law
- "Edith is about as mysterious as a bucket!" - Lady Mary to Lord Grantham.
- "I'd rather sleep on the roof than share with Edith." - Lady Mary
- "Edith dear, you're a woman with a brain, and reasonable ability. Stop whining, and find something to do!" - Granny Violet to Edith
- Robert: "Poor old Edith. We never seem to talk about her."
- Cora: "I'm afraid Edith will be the one to take care of us in our old age."
- Robert: "Oh, what a ghastly prospect!"
- — Edith's parents discussing their middle daughter.[src]
- Edith is the only one of Lord Grantham's daughters to hold a title, Marchioness of Hexham. Mary would have held the title of Countess of Grantham had her first husband, Matthew, lived to succeed her father.
- Edith's full title is The Most Honourable Lady Edith Pelham, Marchioness of Hexham (and any other subsidiary titles Bertie has). The Most Honourable comes from her husband, the Lady comes from her father as she is the daughter of the Earl of Grantham and it is hers by right for life as it is a courtesy title. Marchioness of Hexham is the female title of her husband's title.
Behind the Scenes
- Different sources have identified Edith's middle name as either Violet or Josephine, but neither has been officially confirmed. Mary's middle name is Josephine, so likely, Edith's is Violet.
- Edith as a character, as well as her romance with Gregson, have been compared to Charlotte Brontë's classic novel, Jane Eyre.
- Roaring Twenties, They Were Terrible Says Downton Star Laura Carmichael at The Standard
- Edith is the new Jane Eyre at An American at Downton Blog
- Daily Mail UK - 12 years on and the Lady hasn't aged a bit: Downton viewers question whether the characters have become convincingly old enough in the time since first episode was set By Sam Creighton and Christopher Stevens; Published: 18:19 EST, 21 September 2014; Updated: 07:20 EST, 22 September 2014
- Wedding of Lady Edith in Season 3 blu-ray extras: 05:39
- Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts, Season One, by Julian Fellowes, states that Mary is 21 in 1912, that Edith is 20 and that Sybil is 17.
- Divorce law in England 1857-1937
- 'Downton Abbey' Season/Series 5 Episode 1: It's all about Edith at Examiner