— Millions of women have fallen in love with “Downton Abbey’s” Matthew Crawley, known in real life as Dan Stevens. But Stevens, 28, is more than a gifted actor with piercing blue eyes and a disarming smile. He is also an accomplished writer, the editor-at-large of the new literary magazine “The Junket,” and regular contributor to the Telegraph newspaper’s "My Week" feature.
Stevens, who studied English Literature at Cambridge, is currently in the midst of filming the love story, “Summer in February,” on location in Cornwall, as well as the third season of "Downton Abbey."
“The dawn eventually thaws us to reveal a serene and clear blue day, while the rest of the country is dusted with snow, slush and chaos,” he wrote in this month's My Week piece, published on Tuesday. “There is always a risk in making a film called ‘Summer in February’ in a Cornish winter, but the gods are with us this particular day and beneath the weatherproofed hoods and wind-chapped faces of the crew you can detect a few glowing smiles through the frosted beards.”
Stevens' love for literature began at Cambridge University, where he studied English just around the time that his acting career started to blossom. He started a writing blog several years ago with four friends from his college days.
But while the blog was meant to encourage the group to write more often, procrastination got the better of them. Instead of putting their ambitions by the wayside, the men decided to start a quarterly literary magazine, figuring that it would require a commitment they couldn’t so easily shirk.
“The Junket” put out its first issue last October, quickly developed a devoted readership of around 15,000, and has attracted more submissions than they can handle.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and has surprised us a bit,” co-editor James Purdon told TODAY.com. “Dan has a lot of followers on Twitter, and he tweets both his stories and the new editions of the magazine, which has gotten us a lot of attention. We are all really pleased that people think there is space for it on the web and in the literary market.”
The next edition of "The Junket" comes out in April. Thanks to his literary prowess in that magazine and beyond, Stevens was appointed as a judge on the 2012 Man Booker Prize panel, adding a large dose of glamour to the award.
"The walls of our house are already groaning under the weight of my bookshelves, and now that I’m signed up as a judge of the Man Booker Prize next year my library will gain many more works of literary fiction over the coming months," wrote Stevens in the Telegraph in December.
Despite his role as the eventual heir to Downton, Stevens' own background is more middle-class: He grew up in southeast England, raised by two teachers. He is now married and the father of a daughter, Willow.
“In my case, (fatherhood) made me rethink the way I approach work,” Stevens told the Telegraph in August. “It feels both more — and less — important. I want to spend as much time as I can with my family, yet I’m aware of having to bring home the bacon. I also want Willow to be proud of me and to be able to point to the screen and say, 'There’s Daddy.’”