Downton in search of the ultimate romantic kiss

Portraying the romantic kiss: a Laurence Olivier

Portraying the romantic kiss: a Laurence Olivier lookalike on the cover of Woman’s Own magazine in 1938

Mills & Boon has long been a book publishing brand synonymous with romantic fiction. While the men turned to war and adventure, it was in the hospital or among the country’s squiredom that many women readers sought their romantic escapes. And the same writers who produced the books also provided staple fare for the women’s magazines.

As an earlier post noted, though, illustrating the bliss of the kiss is tricky. Here is one attempt by Woman’s Own in 1938. The woman is all expectation as the man – a near likeness for Laurence Olivier, the great prewar heartthrob – approaches.

Downton's star-crossed lovebirds: Lady Mary in the arms of her cousin Matthew Crawley on the cover of ES Magazine in 2011

Downton’s star-crossed lovebirds: Lady Mary in the arms of her cousin Matthew Crawley on the cover of ES Magazine in 2011

After the war, photography took over, culminating in this ES Magazine cover promoting¬† ITV’s great Sunday evening attraction, Downton, in 2011. It’s a near copy of the Woman’s Own posing, though more artificial in the positioning of the characters for the camera.

The on-off love affair of the series was between Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her cousin, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and takes place after the Titanic goes down and into the 1920s. At first, she resents being passed over as inheritor of the family estate simply because she is a woman in favour of Matthew, a mere doctor. But she is soon smitten. Ultimately, they marry, have a child, but, of course, their love is doomed. Dramatic stuff, which this cover sets out to portray.

She is portrayed for the London Evening Standard‘s weekly supplement here as a cold, alabaster statue, more vampire than hot-blooded woman. The photograph is by Nicole Nodland, who has the sequence of Downton images for the magazine on her website.

 

 

 

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