Fellowes, who lives just outside of London, will receive the 2012 Edith Wharton Lifetime Achievement Award in Boston today, but he extended his first trip to Massachusetts by one day to have time to visit The Mount for the first time
"You come to get more of a handle on someone," Fellowes told The Eagle. "Just reading their work doesn't give you that sort of modesty."
During a tour of The Mount guided by Executive Director Susan Wissler, Fellowes admired the extra space in the house, the minute details in the architecture, and even took extra notice of the servant quarters. Servants are featured prominently in "Downton Abbey."
Several times during the tour, Fellowessaid "The essence of luxury is wasted space," according to Rebecka McDougall, The Mount's marketing and communications director.
"He was so charming and knowledgeable," Wissler said. "It's another star in the sky that celebrates Wharton's 250th birthday."
The estate is a "survivor," according to Fellowes, because it's managed to stick around even though it's weathered previous generations that weren't as keen on historical preservation.
Fellowes kept Wharton's library, full of reporters, photographers, and estate officials laughing with the same cheeky wit often found in some of his other popular screenplays like "Gosford Park," "Vanity Fair," "The Young Victoria" and "The Tourist."
While sitting in the library among books annotated by Wharton herself, Fellowes referenced "The House of Mirth" and "The Custom of the Country" several times. He became acquainted with her work on his own, and wasn't taught it in school, he said.
"She had the ability to judge the society from which she came from, but not condemn it," Fellowes said. "It's simply an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of society."