Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has shared that Lily James’ love affair storyline was based on his own life.

In the latest season of the British period drama, James’ character, Lady Rose, marries a Jewish aristocrat, much to the disapproval of his family, and Fellowes has now revealed the plot is based on a real life incident from his own past.

He tells the New York Times, “There was… at that time (in the 1920s), a kind of universal, upper-class assumption of superiority. People didn’t mind if you came to their house or you shot their pheasants, you ate their dinners or went to their daughter’s dances. But, my God, they didn’t want you to marry her…

“I felt it as a Catholic when I was young. One of my first girlfriends was from a fairly senior Jewish family. They were a very nice family – I’m still friendly, actually, with the girl and her brother.”

Downton Abbey got its first Jewish character, the young and handsome Atticus Aldridge, in its fifth season. The character is played by actor Matt Barber.

Aldridge quickly became the love interest of Lady Rose, who first meets him when Aldridge offers to carry her basket of cakes in a romantic rainstorm.