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Favourite Lines

In 2009 Collin Langley, a devoted du Maurier aficionado, came up with the idea of inviting people to submit their favourite lines from the writings of Daphne du Maurier and asked them to say why those lines were special or significant to them.

During the course of that year nearly 100 quotes were submitted to the du Maurier website. Sometimes the same quote was chosen by more than one person; the reasons people gave for choosing their favourite lines was always interesting. People submitting entries included du Maurier fans and festival goers, members of the du Maurier Browning family and celebrities who were in some way associated with Daphne du Maurier.

Well known du Maurier followers included Alan Titchmarsh, who had championed Rebecca during The Big Read in 2003, and Jan Ravens, who had chosen Daphne du Maurier as her specialist subject in Celebrity Mastermind in January 2008. By the time submissions had stopped coming in Collin had created a splendid and unique record, which we are delighted to be able to bring across to the newly designed Daphne du Maurier website.

The favourite lines are easy to search; just press Ctrl-F on your keyboard and type in the title of a book, or a few words from a quote, and take it from there…

Sheila Hodges - The King's General

I have seen the white sea-mists of early summer turn the hill to fantasy, so that it becomes, in a single second, a ghost land of enchantment, with no sound coming but the wash of breakers on the hidden beach, where, at high noon, the children gather cowrie shells…
The King's General, Ch.28, p.287, Virago (2004).

Here is the central character of The King's General, reflecting on the countryside she knows so well, Daphne's own countryside. I think Daphne sometimes became fascinated by the sound of words and rhythm of phrases. This always seems to me one of the charms of her writing, because it contributed to the music of her prose. I have no documentation whatsoever to support this remark, but I feel in my bones that it is true. If you have a copy of an article which I wrote some years ago for Women's History Review Volume 11, Number 2, 2002, reproduced in The Daphne du Maurier Companion, you will find various passages quoted - about nature - which seem to me particularly mellifluous. Sheila Hodges.

Sheila Hodges is well qualified to comment not just as Daphne's editor at Victor Gollancz from 1943-1981, but as author of several books including a biography of Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist of Mozart's three most famous operas and contributor to music journals, e.g. The Music Review and Opera Quarterly. CL.

Kits Browning - Vanishing Cornwall

The place has the impersonality of somewhere superbly dissociated from humankind, even from life itself. There are no gulls perching upon the ledges or the clefts, no sheep grazing on the headlands beyond. The force of matter is pre-eminent, hard rock challenging the elemental thrust of water. Perhaps this was what drew the hermit to wander here from his cell higher up the valley, endeavouring to reconcile the indifference of nature with an all-seeing and benevolent God…
Vanishing Cornwall, Ch.10, p.121, Virago (2007).

My mother's description of the Rocky Valley a few miles inland from Tintagel, North Cornwall is one of my favourite quotes. Kits Browning.

Christian 'Kits' Browning is Daphne du Maurier's son. CL.

Collin Langley - I'll Never Be Young Again

I could see the mountains reflected in the water. There would be no shadows even when the sun was gone, and no sound. The light on the water would be the same, night and day. I could imagine there would be no birds here to sing. They would be afraid of the sound of their own voices. It was beautiful, but it was too big for me and too remote.
I'll Never Be Young Again, Ch.6, p.64, Virago (2005).

Kits Browning's choice from Vanishing Cornwall evokes Daphne's feelings towards Norwegian fjords expressed by Dick in I'll Never Be Young Again, a description I find haunting. Collin Langley

Flavia Leng - Frenchman's Creek

When the east wind blows up Helford river the shining waters become troubled and disturbed and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores. The short seas break above the bar at ebb-tide, and the waders fly inland to the mud-flats, their wings skimming the surface, and calling to one another as they go. Only the gulls remain, wheeling and crying above the foam, diving now and again in search of food, their grey feathers glistening with the salt spray.
Frenchman's Creek, Ch.1, p.1 Virago (2003).

The solitary yachtsman who leaves his yacht in the open roadstead of Helford, and goes exploring up river in his dinghy on a night in midsummer, when the night-jars call, hesitates when he comes upon the mouth of the creek, for there is something of mystery about it even now, something of enchantment. Being a stranger, the yachtsman looks back over his shoulder to the safe yacht in the roadstead, and to the broad waters of the river, and he pauses, resting on his paddles, aware suddenly of the deep silence of the creek, of its narrow twisting channel, and he feels - for no reason known to him- that he is an interloper, a trespasser in time.
Frenchman's Creek, Ch.1, p.4, Virago (2003).

Flavia Leng is Daphne du Maurier's daughter. CL.

Kim Travell - The Flight of the Falcon

I passed the ducal palace ... I wanted to look at my old home…I could see the windows of the first floor, opened. This had been my parents' bedroom... Someone was playing the piano... A torrent of sound rippled from the keys. It was something I knew... My lips framed a silent echo to the sound as it rose and fell, half gay, half sad, timeless melody. Debussy. Yes, Debussy. The well-worn 'Arabesque', but with a master touch.

…The music ebbed and flowed, changed mood and entered the more solemn phrases, and then again that first light-hearted ripple, higher, even higher, confident and gay, but at last with a descending scale, dissolving, vanishing. It seemed to say: All over, nevermore. The innocence of youth, the joy of childhood, leaping from bed to welcome a new day... all gone, the fervour spent. The repetition of the phrase was only a reminder, an echo of what had been. So swift to go, impossible to hold.
The Flight of the Falcon, Ch.5, p.56/57, Virago (2005).

Kim Travell co-presented 'The Mystery of Daphne's Music' at the 2008 Festival. CL.

David Rogers - The House on the Strand

There are few strains more intolerable in life than waiting for the arrival of unwelcome guests.
The House on The Strand, Ch.13, p.157, Virago (2003).

David Rogers chose just one favourite sentence. However, as an experienced church organist he felt compelled to write to Daphne in 1970 about some music and ecclesiastical references in chapter 13, (p.161). Their cordial exchange of views is in the du Maurier archives at Exeter University. Sheila Hodges, Daphne's editor acknowledged that the phrase: 'He's fond of music, particularly church music, Gregorian chants and plainsong' was a bit of tautology adding: 'sometimes she became fascinated by the sound of words and the rhythm of phrases, occasionally to the detriment of their meaning. But this always seemed one of the charms of her writing, because it contributed to the music of her prose.' CL.

Josephine King -The Birds

The wind seemed to cut him to the bone as he stood there, uncertainly, holding the sack. He could see the white-capped seas breaking down under in the bay. He decided to take the birds to the shore and bury them…
He crunched his way over the shingle to the softer sand and then, his back to the wind, ground a pit in the sand with his heel. He meant to drop the birds into it, but as he opened up the sack the force of the wind carried them, lifted them, as though in flight again, and they were blown away from him along the beach, tossed like feathers, spread and scattered, the bodies of the fifty frozen birds…The dead birds were swept away from him by the wind...He looked out to sea and watched the crested breakers, combing green…
Then he saw them. The gulls. Out there, riding the seas.
What he had thought at first to be the white caps of the waves were gulls. Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands… They rose and fell in the trough of the seas, heads to the wind, like a mighty fleet at anchor, waiting on the tide. To eastward and to the west, the gulls were there. They stretched as far as his eye could reach, in close formation, line upon line. Had the sea been still they would have covered the bay like a white cloud, head to head, body packed to body.
The Birds and Other Stories, Ch.1, p.10/11, Virago (2004).

The menace in this passage is palpable and never ceases to scare me to death: 'Then he saw them. The gulls. Out there, riding the seas.' The shock is punched home by the staccato phrasing. Superb. Josephine King.

The Birds and Other Stories was originally published with the title The Apple Tree. AW.

Josephine is a Blue Badge Guide for the du Maurier festival walks. AW.

Peter Travell -The Loving Spirit

She longed for Joseph more than ever now, to be with him continually, to forsake him never. She was nearly fifty and she had seen nothing of the world. Her old wild sprit, undaunted and fearless, claimed its rightful place beside Joseph. They were born to share danger and joy together, the sea that held so strong a hold on him, had woven its spell about her too, and though she was a woman and middle-aged she dreamt not of a warm fireside and an easy chair, but of a lifting deck and a straining mast, grey seas beneath a wind-swept sky. There, where the sky and sea mingle, and where no land beckons, she felt her youth and her strength would return to her, but to live without Joseph in Plyn meant a desolation of soul and body, and at times when her weak heart betrayed her failing strength, she felt the supreme courage ebbing from her.
The Loving Spirit, Book 1, Ch.13, p.96/7, Virago (2003).

I picked this passage because I think it captures the soaring strength and deep fragility of the human mind. Peter Travell.

Pat Polidor - The Loving Spirit

Placed against the beam is the figurehead of a ship. She leans beyond them all, a little white figure with her hands at her breast, her chin in the air, her eyes gazing towards the sea. High above the clustered houses and the grey harbour waters of Plyn, the loving spirit smiles and is free.
The Loving Spirit, Book 4, Ch.12, p.403/4, Virago (2003).

These favourite lines have really struck a chord within me and have stayed with me throughout the years. They have moved me most for some unknown reason. Years ago, when doing my Strictly Britain tours, when we paused by Ferryside to wait for the ferry, I would read the last few lines of the book to my group, as that always seemed to be the appropriate introduction to Daphne, and Fowey that I always loved.

Somehow she had no wish to go tonight. She did not care to listen to the parson's words, nor to join in singing the hymns with the others, nor even kneel by the altar rail to receive the Blessed Sacrament. She had a mind to slip away in the darkness, and run for the cliff path that overlooked the sea. There'd be a moon over the water, like a path of silver leading away from the black sea to the sky, and she'd be nearer to peace there than on her knees in Lanoc Church. Nearer to something for which there was no name, escaping from the world and losing herself, mingling with things that have no reckoning of time, where there is no today and no tomorrow.
The Loving Spirit, Book 1, Ch.5, p.31, Virago (2003).

Attending services at Llanteglos has always meant a great deal to me; but there have been many times when walking along the coastal paths and have stopped to gaze out to sea that I feel quite in tune with that passage. Also when standing on my little deck at night, with a full moon shining down on Polruan and the harbor....

Janet -- Joseph -- Christopher -- Jennifer, all bound together in some strange and thwarted love for one another, handing down this strain of restlessness and suffering, this intolerable longing for beauty and freedom; all searching for the nameless things, the untrodden ways, but finding peace only in Plyn and in each other; each one torn apart from his beloved by the physical separation of death, yet remaining part of them for ever, bound by countless links that none could break, uniting in one another the living presence of a wise and loving spirit.
The Loving Spirit, Book 4, Ch.9, p.356, Virago (2003).

Pat Polidor (US).

Stephen Maddox  - The Loving Spirit

He threw back his head and watched her as she stood, white against the sky with a smile on her lips.
'You're an angel tonight,' he said, 'standing at the gates of Heaven before the birth of Christ. It's Christmas, and they're singing the hymn in Lanoc Church.'
'Fifty years or a thousand years, it's all the same,' said Janet. 'Our comin' here together is the proof of it.'
'You'll never leave me again, then?' he asked.
'Never no more.'
He knelt and kissed her footprints in the snow.
'Tell me, is there a God?'
He looked into her eyes and read the truth.
They stood for a minute and gazed at each other, seeing themselves as they never would on earth. She saw a man, bent and worn, with wild unkempt hair and weary eyes; he saw a girl, young and fearless, with the moonlight on her face.
'Good night, my mother, my beauty, my sweet.'
'Good night, my love, my baby, my son.'
Then the mist came between them, and hid them from one another.
The Loving Spirit, Book 1, Ch.5, p.34, Virago (2003).

Stephen Maddox.

David Willmore - The House on the Strand

I wondered that neither of them heard the wheels, and then I saw they were not with me any longer. The wagonette had gone, and the mail van from Par had come up the lane and stopped beside the gate.
It was morning. I was standing inside the drive leading to a small house across the valley from Polmear hill. I tried to hide myself in the bushes bordering the drive, but the postman had already got out of his van and was opening the gate. His stare combined recognition and astonishment, and I followed the direction of his eyes down to my legs. I was soaking wet from crutch to foot: I must have waded through bog and marsh. My shoes were water-logged and both trouser legs were torn. I summoned a painful smile.
He looked embarrassed. 'You're in a proper mess,' he said. 'It's the gentleman living up Kilmarth, isn't it?'
'Yes,' I relied.
'Well, this is Polpey, Mr Graham's house. But I doubt if they're up yet, it's only just turned seven. Were you intending to call on Mr Graham?'
'Good heavens, no! I got up early, went for a walk, and somehow lost my way.'
The House on the Strand, Ch.9, p.111, Virago (2003).

This piece always makes me smile, as I know Mr & Mrs Graham and Mrs Graham is most emphatic about the fact that they would have been up before seven, but for the purpose of the novel, Daphne (who was a good friend of theirs) said that they would not be up at that time! David Willmore.

Ann Willmore - The Parasites

The wind, if anything, had lightened; the sea was slaty smooth. There was no steamer smoke now on the horizon, and no sign of any ship. The land lay astern, about seven miles distant. Even the gull had gone. Niall sat down in the cockpit once again and watched the water rising on the cabin floor.
His first reaction was relief to be alone. He had not the responsibility of a second person. But swiftly upon this thought came a feeling of melancholy, of sadness. It would have been nice, at such a moment, to talk aloud. Someone like Charles would have been invaluable. Men who have fought in wars, who ran estates, who were efficient, would be sure to know how to cope with a leaking boat…Niall did not know how to do any of these things. He only knew how to write songs.
The Parasites, Ch.25, p.335/336, Virago (2005).

The Parasites is my favourite of all Daphne du Maurier's novels and this paragraph, very close to the end of the book, when we don't know what will happen to Niall, is key as he finally realises the value of Charles and his own limitations. Ann Willmore.

Ann Willmore -The King's General

…suddenly away from the marsh ahead of us rose a heron, his great grey wings unfolding, his legs trailing…
…The heron was now direct above my head, and the falcons lost to view, and I heard Gartred shout her triumph: 'They bind – they bind – my tiercel has her,' and silhouetted against the sun, I saw one of the falcons locked against the heron and the two come swinging down to earth not twenty yards ahead.
I tried to swerve, but the mare had the mastery, and I shouted to Gartred as she passed me, 'Which way is the chasm?' but she did not answer me. On we flew towards the circle of stones, the sun blinding my eyes, and out of the darkening sky fell the dying heron and the blood-bespattered falcon, straight into the yawning crevice that opened out before me. I heard Richard shout, and a thousand voices singing in my ears as I fell.
The King's General, Ch.5, p.50/51, Virago (2004).

To me The King's General is a very visual book and never more so that in this early scene when Honor's fate is sealed. Ann Willmore.

Pat Polidor - Enchanted Cornwall

I went and stood beneath the chalet, the water immediately beneath me, and looked towards the harbour mouth. There were small boats everywhere, and yachts at anchor, but more stirring still a big ship was drawing near, with two attendant tugs, to moor a few cables' length from the house itself. There was a smell in the air of tar and rope and rusted chain, a smell of tidal water. Down harbour, around the point, was the open sea. Here was the freedom I desired, long sought-for, not yet known. Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone. One feature of my excitement was the feeling that it could not be mere chance that brought us to the ferry. It seemed so right....
Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall – Her Pictorial Memoir, Ch.2, p.30/31, Penguin Group (1989).

More lines that I read to my groups when I was doing the Strictly Britain tours, not knowing then that they would come to hold such a deep meaning for myself every time I came to Fowey... Pat Polidor (US).

This quote, with minor variations to the wording, can also be found in Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer, Ch.4, p.102/103 Virago (2004) and Vanishing Cornwall, Prologue, p.6, Virago (2007). AW.

Jeremy Saunders- Vanishing Cornwall

More spectacular than the small inland mines are the chimneys and engine-houses of those built above the sea, perched like the nests of eagles. Botallack, near Cape Cornwall in West Penwith, has an almost eerie grandeur, set on a peak of rock with the Atlantic foaming at its base... This chimney surely never belched forth smoke, those walls never housed an engine's throbbing power. They stood for something outside time, like the tombs on the moorlands of West Penwith; memorials to daring and to courage, to the spirit of the miner himself, undefeated in adversity and loss, braving the centuries past, the centuries to come, symbols of a Cornish heritage.
Vanishing Cornwall, The Tinners, Ch.8, p.102/104, Virago (2007).

I had the good fortune to produce the two films Vanishing Cornwall and The Make Believe World of Daphne du Maurier. Kits Browning and I met when we were both working on the film The Running Man (1962) directed by Sir Carol Reed, whose work was inspirational to Kits and I. Daphne much enjoyed hearing stories about the making of the film. Carol had been Daphne's first love and they remained in close touch.

Working with Kits on Vanishing Cornwall, I had the privilege of not only dining with Daphne, but also staying at Menabilly. These memories are personal and much cherished. Daphne loved ideas, which stimulated the imagination. It was in this context that conversation was at its most animated while Vanishing Cornwall was adapted to a film. She loved the folklore of Cornwall and the spirit of its people perhaps because, until recently, life was so hard. Hard, largely due to the elements that revealed great beauty but in an instant changed to life threatening danger. She was drawn to exposure of the elements in her love of sailing and in walks with her dogs on the windswept cliffs. Moments that intensify the imagination I suspect. The bravery of the people is symbolised in descriptions of the tin mines. The rhythm of Daphne's prose and feeling when spoken by Sir Michael Redgrave in the film are a lasting memorial to a forgotten Cornwall.


Memories are precious things, and whether good or ill are never sad. A country known and loved in all its moods becomes woven into the pattern of life, something to be shared, to be made plain. Those born and bred in Cornwall must have the greatest understanding of its people and their ways, its history and its legends, its potentiality for future growth. As one who sought to know it long ago, at five years old, in quest of freedom, and later put down roots and found content, I have come a small way on the path. The beauty and the mystery beckon still.
Vanishing Cornwall, Prologue, p.8, Virago (2007).

My delight is to remember the twinkling blue eyes as another mischievous thought crossed Daphne's mind. I shall continue to think of her as an observer and an absorber; qualities inherited from both her father, Gerald, and her grandfather, George perhaps. Qualities that fortunately have been passed to present generations of du Mauriers. Jeremy Saunders.

Stella Black - Jamaica Inn

Those who carried pistols now had the advantage, and the landlord, with his remaining ally Harry the pedlar by his side, stood with his back to the cart and let fly amongst the rabble, who, in the sudden terror of pursuit that would follow with the day, looked upon him now as an enemy, a false leader who had brought them to destruction. The first shot went wide, and stubbed the soft bank opposite; but it gave one of the opponents a chance to cut the landlord's eye open with a jagged flint. Joss Merlyn marked his assailant with his second shot, spattering him in mid-stomach, and while the fellow doubled up in the mud amongst his companions, mortally wounded and screaming like a hare, Harry the pedlar caught another in the throat, the bullet ripping the windpipe, the blood spouting jets like a fountain.
Jamaica Inn, Ch.11, p.190, Virago (2003).

It has always irritated me when Daphne du Maurier is described as a romantic novelist. I much enjoyed Rick Stein's BBC documentary to celebrate her centenary in 2007 and agree with his observation that she was far from being just a romantic. I trust that the lines I have chosen prove my point. Stella Black.

Lynn Goold - The King's General

We descended the steep path to Pridmouth. The tide was low, the Cannis rock showed big and clear, and on the far horizon was the black smudge of a sail. The mill-stream gurgled out upon the stones, and ran sharply to the beach, and from the marsh at the farther end a swan rose suddenly, thrashing his way across the water, and, circling in the air a moment, winged his way out to the sea. We climbed the further hill, past Coombe Manor, where the Rashleigh cousins lived, and so down to my brother-in-law's town house on Fowey quay. The first thing I looked for was a ship at anchor in the Rashleigh roads, but none was there. The harbour water was still and grey, and no vessels but little fish-craft anchored at Polruan.
The King's General, Ch.37, p.365, Virago (2004).

My passion for Daphne du Maurier is the way she describes the landscape and the weather, as well as the stories. When I am doing a guided walk it is possible to find a quote for every occasion. As I was brought up very close by and spent much of my youth and later years walking in the area between Par and Fowey, it is easy to recognise some of the places Daphne uses in her novels. The other thing that is just wonderful is that it has changed very little in the last (I hate to say it) 60 years. I think Daphne would like the fact that it remains unspoilt.

My chosen piece is from The King's General. This is Honor leaving Menabilly for a final time.

What a wonderful description of Polridmouth! Several years ago when taking a walk that way, I stopped with the group and gave my little speech about the area and went on to read that passage. It was a clear day with a low tide and you could see the Cannis rock which I pointed out. As I started reading there was not anything in sight but then a sailing vessel appeared on the horizon, just a smudge of a sail and as I finished a swan rose from the farther end of the lake and winged its way across us! It sent a shiver down our spines and was the highlight of the day. Sadly I have never been able to repeat that experience for any group. It is something I will always remember. Lynn Goold.

Lynn is manager of the Tourist Information Centre and the du Maurier Literary Centre in Fowey. AW.

Kim Travell - Rebecca

'All the pictures in the gallery would make good costumes,' said Mrs Danvers, 'especially that one of the young lady in white, with her hat in her hand. I wonder Mr de Winter does not make it a period ball, everyone dressed more or less the same, to be in keeping. I never think it looks right to see a clown dancing with a lady in powder and patches.'….
'I should study the pictures in the gallery, Madam, if I were you, especially the one I mentioned. And you need not think I will give you away. I won't say a word to anyone.'
'Thank you, Mrs Danvers,' I said. She shut the door very gently behind her. I went on with my dressing, puzzled at her attitude, so different from our last encounter…
Rebecca, Ch.16, p.222/3, Virago (2003).

I love the fact that the dagger is drawn while the smile remains fixed in place. Kim Travell.

Kim co-presented 'The Mystery of Daphne's Music' at the 2008 Festival. CL.

Peter Travell - Rebecca

Mrs Danvers came close to me, she put her face near to mine. 'It's no use, is it?' she said. 'You'll never get the better of her. She's still mistress here, even if she is dead. She's the real Mrs de Winter, not you. It's you that's the shadow and the ghost. It's you that's forgotten and not wanted and pushed aside. Well why don't you leave Manderley to her? Why don't you go?'
I backed away from her towards the window, my old fear and horror rising up in me again. She took my arm and held it like a vice.
'Why don't you go?' she said. 'We none of us want you. He doesn't want you, he never did. He can't forget her. He wants to be alone in the house again, with her. It's you that ought to be lying there in the church crypt, not her. It's you that ought to be dead, not Mrs de Winter.'
She pushed me towards the open window… 'Look down there,' she said. 'It's easy, isn't it? Why don't you jump? It wouldn't hurt, not to break your neck. It's a quick, kind way. It's not like drowning. Why don't you try it? Why don't you go?'
Rebecca, Ch.18, p.275/6, Virago (2003).

These words are atmospheric, a whispering, insistent caress. Mrs Danvers speaks them but they could almost be from within. Peter Travell.

Josephine King - Vanishing Cornwall

Those who desire to understand the Cornish, and their country, must use their imagination and travel back in time.
Vanishing Cornwall, Ch.1, p.14, Virago (2007).

For me this sums up Daphne's fascination with the past in Cornwall in The House on the Strand, The King's General, Jamaica Inn amongst others. Josephine King.

Josephine is a Blue Badge Guide for the du Maurier festival walks. AW.

Flavia Leng -The King's General

September, 1653. The last of summer. The first chill winds of autumn. The sun no longer strikes my eastern window as I wake, but, turning laggard, does not top the hill before eight o'clock. A white mist hides the bay sometimes until noon, and hangs about the marshes too, leaving, when it lifts, a breath of cold air behind it. Because of this, the tall grass in the meadow never dries, but long past midday shimmers and glistens in the sun, the great drops of moisture hanging motionless upon the stems.
The King's General, Ch.1, p.1, Virago (2004).

Flavia Leng is Daphne du Maurier's daughter. CL.

Collin Langley - Jamaica Inn

The best things left to him were his teeth, which were all good still, and very white, so that when he smiled they showed up clearly against the tan of his face, giving him the lean and hungry appearance of a wolf. And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.
Jamaica Inn, Ch.2, p.16, Virago (2003).

Whenever I read Mary Yellan's first encounter with her Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn, my spine tingles. Collin Langley.

Collin Langley - Julius

In Gabriel's hands and against Gabriel's lips the cry became a summons of a different kind, a call out of the earth, a beckoning, mocking whisper like a night-bird from the woods; and there was one jerky persistent note that started from a mere breath of suggestion and grew into a leaping, discordant rhythm, harping its way into the brain with maddening power - a wild, fantastic tune hopelessly unsuited to a flute, a savage ugly note, a jungle note.
…'You play the flute like my father would have played it if he'd sold his soul to Satan'.
Julius, Part 4, p.229, Virago (2004).

A favourite quote of mine is from Julius whose manipulative daughter Gabriel, often played the flute in a style and manner which distressed her mother Rachel but aroused her father. Rachel believed the instrument should produce music of intense purity like the unbroken voice of a young boy. Collin Langley.

Julius was originally published with the title The Progress of Julius. AW.

Kits Browning - Rebecca

'I'm glad I killed Rebecca. I shall never have any remorse for that, never, never. But you. I can't forget what it has done to you. I was looking at you, thinking of nothing else all through lunch. It's gone forever, that funny, young, lost look that I loved. It won't come back again. I killed that too, when I told you about Rebecca…It's gone, in twenty-four hours. You are so much older…'
Rebecca, Ch.21. p.335/336, Virago (2003).

One of my favourite quotes is from Rebecca and Maxim's admission to his wife, the second Mrs de Winter. Laurence Olivier delivered a slightly altered version of these lines quite superbly in Hitchcock's 1940 film. Kits Browning.

Christian 'Kits' Browning is Daphne du Maurier's son. CL.

Jan Ravens - Vanishing Cornwall

There was a smell in the air of tar and rope and rusted chain, a smell of tidal water. Down harbour, around the point, was the open sea. Here was the freedom I desired, long sought for, not yet known. Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone.
Vanishing Cornwall, Prologue, p.6, Virago (2007).

One of the first things that drew me to Daphne's writing was her identification with Cornwall, both as a writer, and in her own life. The description of her first impressions of Fowey never fails to make me long to be there. Jan Ravens.


This quote, with minor variations to the wording, can also be found in Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer, Ch.4, p.102/103 Virago (2004) and Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall – Her Pictorial Memoir, Ch.2, p.30/31, Penguin Group (1989). AW.

Jan was the winner of BBC's Celebrity Mastermind on 1st January 2008. Her specialist subject was Daphne du Maurier. CL.

Jan Ravens - The Scapegoat

Perhaps, if I had not kept him locked within me, he might have laughed, roistered, fought and lied. Perhaps he suffered, perhaps he hated, perhaps he lived by cruelty alone. He might have murdered, stolen - or spent himself in lost causes, loved humanity, embraced a faith that believed in the divinity of both God and Man. Whatever his nature, he always hovered beneath the insignificant façade of that pale self who now sat in the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture waiting for the rain to cease, for the day to fold, for the holiday to come to its appointed end, for autumn to set in, for the day-by-day routine of his normal, uneventful London life to close upon him for another year, another span of time. The question was, how to unlock the door?
The Scapegoat, Ch.1, p.6/7, Virago (2004).

An aspect of Daphne's own life which features hugely in her fiction is the duality in us all; the conflict between what we would like to be and what we actually are. This goes all the way back to Janet Coombe in The Loving Spirit and is developed compellingly in The Scapegoat.

In the year it was published, Daphne wrote of herself and Tommy:
We are both doubles. So is everyone. Every one of us has his, or her, dark side. Which is to overcome the other? Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster, Ch.17, p.285, Arrow Books (2007).

In the quote that I have chosen Daphne describes John, the hero of The Scapegoat, as a quiet donnish figure; and he describes how he keeps his other self firmly suppressed. Jan Ravens.

Jan was the winner of BBC's Celebrity Mastermind on 1st January 2008. Her specialist subject was Daphne du Maurier. CL.

Tessa Montgomery - The Scapegoat

The setting sun dipped in our wake, and as we drove east the deep country folded upon us, forested and still. The lonely farmsteads lay oasis-like and misty, isolated patches amongst the soft red glow of fields. The acres of land were remote and beautiful as a vast ocean unexplored, and the golden asparagus fern like mermaids' hair, bordering the ribbon road that wound towards the trees. Nothing was real to me, nothing had substance. Everything I saw had the quality of a dream, from the pale stubble to the reedy stems of sunflowers long since picked and left to fall upon themselves with the first autumn frost. The solidity of haystacks, streaky white, usually hard and clear-cut on the horizon, merged into the soil, becoming part of it, and long avenues of poplars, with shivering, falling leaves, came out of nowhere and disappeared again. Ghost trees, tall and slim, closed in upon the long figure of a peasant woman walking, head bowed, towards some unseen destination. A sudden impulse bade me tell the chauffeur to stop the car, and I stood for a moment, listening to silence, as the sun went down behind us dark and red, and the white mist rose.
The Scapegoat, Ch.3, p. 31/2, Virago (2004).

The love of the French countryside is something that my mother and I both shared, and this description captures it so vividly. Tessa Montgomery.

Tessa Montgomery is Daphne du Maurier's elder daughter. AW.

David Montgomery - The House on the Strand

The first thing I noticed was the clarity of the air, and then the sharp green colour of the land. There was no softness anywhere. The distant hills did not blend into the sky but stood out like rocks, so close that I could almost touch them, their proximity giving me that shock of surprise and wonder which a child feels looking for the first time through a telescope. Nearer to me, too, each object had the same hard quality, the very grass turning to single blades, springing from a younger, harsher soil than the soil I knew.
I had expected – if I expected anything – a transformation of another kind: a tranquil sense of well-being, the blurred intoxication of a dream, with everything about me misty, ill-defined; not this tremendous impact, a reality more vivid than anything hitherto experienced, sleeping or awake. Now every impression was heightened, every part of me singularly aware: eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, all had been in some way sharpened.
The House on the Strand, Ch.1, p.1, Virago (2003).

I have been reading Daphne's books since my schooldays. Apart from the imaginative story lines, the descriptive quality of the prose is outstanding. David Montgomery.

David Montgomery is Daphne du Maurier's son-in-law. AW.

Alice Holt - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

From the end of the lawn where I first saw her, that May morning, I stand and look upon her face. The ivy is stripped. Smoke curls from the chimneys. The windows are flung wide. The doors are open. My children come running from the house on to the lawn. The hydrangeas bloom for me. Clumps of them stand on my piano.
Slowly, in a dream, I walk towards the house. 'It's wrong,' I think, 'to love a block of stone like this, as one loves a person. It cannot last. It cannot endure. Perhaps it is the very insecurity of the love that makes the passion strong. Because she is not mine by right. The house is still entailed, and one day will belong to another…'
I brush the thought aside. For this day, and for this night, she is mine.
And at midnight, when the children sleep, and all is hushed and still, I sit down at the piano and look at the panelled walls, and slowly, softly, with no one there to see, the house whispers her secrets, and the secrets turn to stories, and in strange and eerie fashion we are at one, the house and I.
The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories, The House of Secrets, p.144, Virago (2004).

I've always admired and shared Daphne du Maurier's love for houses and places. I so remember our family home in Suffolk and even now before I fall asleep at night, my thoughts often return to childhood. I float from room to room and all is as it was, my father's old tweed jacket hangs on his desk chair, his rack of polished pipes still line the mantelpiece, the brown bottle of Haig whisky stands on the sideboard. I can smell the scent from my mother's freshly picked Sweet Peas. All is as it should be, safe and secure, childhood memories from simpler times. Alice Holt.

Jonathan Harvey - Julius

Then he knew, then he understood. It was as though something warm took hold of his heart, clasped him softly, loved him, murmured to him. He was amongst his own people. They saw with his eyes, they spoke with his voice; this was his temple, those were his candles.
They were poor, ill-clad, ill-fed, their temple was tucked away in the heart of the city, but they came there to be together because they all belonged to one another. Their minds were alike, they shared the same longings, their blood was too strong for them - they were bound hand and heart, they would never break away.
That was the Rabbin who bowed before the golden candle-stick, who chanted in his soft sweet voice. He turned to the people, and lifted up his voice, he cried to them, he whispered, he echoed the prayer in their heart. It was not the Rabbin only, young, pale-faced, who stood there, it was Paul Lévy, it was Julius, it was child and boy and man, it was Père's mind in Père's body, it was Julius's eyes in Julius's face. And the psalm he chanted was Père's music, the song that rose and whispered and lost itself in the air, the voice cried out like the music had cried, it pleaded and wept, it sorrowed and rejoiced in his sorrow, it quivered immeasurably high as a bird hovers, beating his wings to escape, it travelled away, beyond the gold sun, flinging itself against the stars, exquisite, trembling, a song of beauty and pain, of suffering and joy and distress, the cry of one who searches the sky, who holds out his hands to the clouds.
Julius, Part 1, 1860-1872: Childhood, p.38/9, Virago (2004).

I believe Julius is a remarkable book. I understand Miss du Maurier was about twenty five when she wrote it, and had a somewhat sheltered and privileged upbringing which makes my chosen extract seem all the more impressive. I've read that she based a lot of Julius on her father, Gerald du Maurier. I wonder what he thought of it! Jonathan Harvey.

Julius was originally published with the title The Progress of Julius. AW.

Linda Cooke - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

When I think of Gerald… he has pottered downstairs to the drawing room one fine morning in search of cigarettes, while Mo is upstairs having a bath, and he is wearing silk pyjamas from Beale & Inman of Bond Street, topped by a very old cardigan full of holes that once belonged to his mother. He switches on the gramophone, and the hit song of the day, a sensuous waltz, floats upon the air. He holds out his arms to a non-existent partner and, closing his eyes, circles the room with the exaggerated rhythm of a musical-comedy hero, languid, romantic, murmuring with mock passion:

'I wonder why you keep me waiting,
Charmaine, my Charmaine ….'

Unseen by friends or fans, and unobserved, so he imagines, by any member of his family, Gerald obeys the instinct of a lifetime, and is acting to himself.
The Rebecca Notebook, The Matinee Idol, p.87, Virago (2004).

Linda Cooke was the winner of the first Daily Telegraph Daphne du Maurier Competition in 1998. AW.

Linda Cooke - Vanishing Cornwall

Here, in the Ropehaven, all is peace, the long afternoon drifts by, until a slow ripple against the anchor chain makes the boat swing to a leisurely dance and the helmsman becomes restive, sensing the first whisper of a breeze. The lazy wallow beneath the sun is over. Sails are hoisted, the anchor raised, sheets made fast, and we are homeward bound across the bay, a beam wind from the north-west whipping us back to Fowey. We throw mackerel lines astern and make them fast, and while one of us is intent on the trimming of sails the other stares towards the land, the clay-hills hard and white on the western skyline. Then the slope of the Gribbin peninsula approaches, bracken-covered, green, and beyond it, hull-down between its coverage of trees, two chimney tops and the grey roof of Menabilly.
Coming to the harbour entrance we wind in the lines, and one of them find a limp and long-dead fish whose protesting struggles neither of us felt. The breeze dies, the tide is slack, and with infinite cunning born of long experience the helmsman brings the sailing craft to her moorings at the opening of Pont Pyll. The buoy is lifted, the sails lowered and stowed, the fish cleaned, and as the stringy guts are thrown into the air all of Fowey's gulls appear, wheeling, screaming, until one more voracious than its fellows dives to the patch of water where the mess has fallen and gulps it wholesale.
This is the moment for pausing, for lighting a cigarette and glancing around to appraise the visiting craft, anchored in the pool below Polruan. Fowey town has been in shadow since earliest afternoon, but Polruan, and all the eastern hills sloping to Pont Creek, are caught by the vanishing sun, with the ripple on the water dusky red. It is a moment of satisfaction and tranquillity.
Vanishing Cornwall, Ch.3, Climate, p.40-42, Virago (2007).

Linda Cooke was the winner of the first Daily Telegraph Daphne du Maurier Competition in 1998. AW.

Sue Simpson - The King's General

She reminded me of something, and suddenly I knew. I was a tiny child again at Radford, my uncle's home, and he was walking me through the glass-houses in the gardens. There was one flower, an orchid, that grew alone; it was the colour of pale ivory, with one little vein of crimson running through the petals… It was the loveliest flower I had ever seen. I stretched out my hand to stroke the soft velvet sheen, and swiftly my uncle pulled me by the shoulder. 'Don't touch it child. The stem is poisonous'.
The King's General, Ch.2, p.14/15, Virago (2004).

This quote is from the passage where Honor, as a child, meets Gartred for the first time. The King's General is my all time favourite book and it is hard to choose just one passage, but this quote has huge significance to an event later in the book, which I did not see until I re-read the book, and I think there will be many other readers who have not noticed it either. I remember at the time being full of admiration for Daphne's brilliance at adding what seems like a fairly unimportant section at first. Sue Simpson.

Margery Instrell - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

Mine is the silence
And the quiet gloom
Of a clock ticking
In an empty room,
The scratch of a pen,
Ink-pot and paper,
And the patter of the rain.
Nothing but this as long as I am able,
Firelight - and a chair, and a table.

Not for me the shadow of a smile,
Nor the life that has gone,
Nor the love that has fled,
But the thread of the spider who spins on the wall,
Who is lost, who is dead, who is nothing at all.
The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories, Poems, The Writer (1926), p.175/7, Virago
(2004).

Daphne's poem anticipates an uncertain future as a writer, a life like the spider's thread, lacking secure ties. The imagery of her final stanza just makes me stop and reflect on life, its meaning for me and undoubted fragility. The poem was written before Daphne's first novel and perhaps an irony that it should be published in the final book by one of the most successful 20Ce authors. Margery Instrell.

Sylvia Ruck - Jamaica Inn

She laughed because she must, and because he made her; and there was an infection in the air caught from the sound and bustle of the town, a sense of excitement and well-being; a sense of Christmas. The streets were thronged with people, and the little shops were gay. Carriages, and carts, and coaches too, were huddled together in the cobbled square. There was colour, and life, and movement; the cheerful crowd jostled one another before the market stalls, turkeys and geese scratched at the wooden barrier that penned them, and a woman in a green cloak held apples above her head and smiled, the apples shining and red like her cheeks. The scene was familiar and dear; Helston had been like this, year after year at Christmas-time; but there was a brighter, more abandoned spirit about Launceston; the crowd was greater and the voices mixed. There was space here, and a greater sophistication; Devonshire and England were across the river. Farmers from the next county rubbed shoulders with countrywomen from East Cornwall; and there were shop-keepers and pastrycooks, and little apprentice-boys who pushed in and out amongst the crowd with hot pasties and sausage-meat on trays. A lady in a feathered hat and a blue velvet cape stepped down from her coach and went into the warmth and light of the hospitable White Hart, followed by a gentleman in a padded greatcoat of powder-grey.
Jamaica Inn, Ch.9, p145/6, Virago (2003).

I find the book really quite dark but saying that, difficult to put down! The passage I have chosen reflects a lighter side to the story and one that shows the high level of descriptive narrative. Somehow this reminds me of my own childhood in a Bedfordshire village in the 1950's. I think it reminds me of the village events near Christmas time, not that we had 'hot pasties and sausage-meat on trays'! It just conjures up a really good feeling. Sylvia Ruck.

Sylvia is head teacher of Great Dunmow Primary School, Essex. CL.

Christopher Clayton - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

Yet I had seen his empty shell. I had seen the light flicker and go out. Where had it gone? Was it blown to emptiness after all, like the light of a candle, and does each one of us, in the end, vanish into darkness? If this is so, and our dreams of survival after death are only dreams, then we must accept this too. Not with fear and dismay, but with courage. To have lived at all is a measure of immortality; for a baby to be born, to become a man, a woman, to beget others like himself, is an act of faith in itself, even an act of defiance. It is as though every human being born into this world burns, for a brief moment, like a star, and because of it a pinpoint of light shines in the darkness, and so there is glory, so there is life. If there is nothing more than this, we have achieved our immortality.
The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories, Death and Widowhood, p.127, Virago (2004).

Death featured strongly in Daphne's life and writing. The lines are about the death of her husband Major General Browning (responsible for Operation Market Garden, portrayed in the film A Bridge Too Far.) They call forth the hope expressed in Death and Widowhood that he had found the 'peace which passes all understanding' in which he believed. However, Daphne doubted that we have a life after death; she explained in detail her scepticism regarding religion, god and an afterlife in her essay This I Believe, also to be found in The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories. Even so, if in the end we all 'vanish', for a brief moment we burn like a star which shines in the darkness. At the end of her family biography The du Mauriers, in which she also questions human immortality, she finds it consoling to imagine that 'we leave something of ourselves, like the wake of a vessel, as a reminder that once we passed this way.' Her thoughts on the death of her husband surely have profound meaning for those of us who do and for those of us who do not believe in an afterlife. Christopher Clayton.

Sally Hing - Jamaica Inn

She lifted the sash and looked out. She was met with a blast of wind and rain that blinded her for the moment, and then, shaking clear her hair and pushing it from her eyes, she saw that the coach was topping the breast of a hill at a furious gallop, while on either side of the road was rough moorland, looming ink-black in the mist and rain.
Ahead of her, on the crest, and to the left, was some sort of a building, standing back from the road. She could see tall chimneys, murky dim in the darkness. There was no other house, no other cottage. If this was Jamaica, it stood alone in glory, foursquare to the winds. Mary gathered her cloak around her and fastened the clasp.
Jamaica Inn, Ch.1, p.14, Virago (2003).

I've always loved my visits to Cornwall and no visit would ever be complete without first stopping at Jamaica Inn. There has always been something special about the isolated inn on the moor and to me it symbolises the end of a long, tiresome journey and marks the real gateway to Cornwall, more so than the official county sign.
I prefer it when the weather is bad and love to be there in the heavy rain and with my hair blowing everywhere - it's all the more evocative then and I feel like Mary Yellan did on her first visit. The ritual is repeated on the journey home; always a final stop and a last look around before reluctantly leaving it behind till the next time. Sally Hing.

John Rose - Hungry Hill

The little church stood quite alone, windswept and solitary, looking out over the wide waters of Mundy Bay. But for all its stark position, exposed to the four winds and the rains of winter, there was something comforting and strong in its grey solidity, something ageless in the lichen that clung about its walls. Inside all was peaceful, all was quiet, as though no evil thought, no hard memory, could penetrate the still serenity. The gales might blow, the floods might come, but the church of Ardmore would withstand them all, a small bastion in eternity.
Hungry Hill, Book 4, Ch.1, p.306, Virago (2008).

In this short paragraph, Daphne halts the relentless tumult of the Brodrick family history to express the unchanging serenity of the countryside, epitomised by 'the little church by the sea at Ardmore'. John Rose.

Billie Graeme - Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer

I rose at five a.m., pulled across the harbour in my pram, walked through the sleeping town, and climbed out on the cliffs just as the sun himself climbed out of Pont hill behind me. The sea was glass. The air was soft and misty warm. And the only other creature out of bed was a fisherman, hauling crab-pots, at the harbour mouth. It gave me a fine feeling of conceit, to be up before the world. I came down to Pridmouth bay, passing the solitary cottage by the lake, and, opening a small gate, saw a narrow path leading to the woods. Now, at last, I had the day before me, and no owls, no shadows could turn me back.
Myself when Young, Ch.6, Apprenticeship, p.151, Virago (2004).

The choice of favourite lines was absorbing and time-consuming requiring a rereading of much of Daphne's writing. My final decision is based on her love of the natural things around her at Menabilly and later at Kilmarth. She loved the daily walks through the woods down to the sea and never tired of watching the rhythm of the waves…Perhaps that is when the ideas for the magic of the plots for her writings came to be. Billie Graeme.

Rhythm is a recurring theme: Sheila Hodges, Daphne's former editor, wrote how she became fascinated by the sound of words and rhythm of phrases. CL.

Billie and her late husband Harry Graeme came to live in Fowey in 1948 and opened their photographic business in the old Noah's Ark in Fore Street. Harry died in 1965 but photography continued with painting, Billie's first love, taking a back seat. Billie was joined by Jim Matthews in 1967 who subsequently qualified in Photography. Billie now sells her oil and watercolour paintings and has published books of her paintings and drawings. Billie knew Daphne well and Jim's memorable 1970's photograph of her can be seen in Bookends of Fowey. CL.

Myself When Young was originally published with the title Growing Pains: The Shaping of a Writer. AW.

Billie Graeme - The Loving Spirit

Joseph felt the longing rise in his heart for Plyn. He wanted to look upon the quiet waters of the harbour, and the little cottages clustered about the hill, with the blue smoke curling from their crooked chimneys. He wanted to feel the cobbled stones of the old slip beneath his feet, where the nets were spread to dry in the sun, and where the blue-jerseyed fishermen leaned against the harbour wall. He wanted to hear the sound of the waves, splashing against the rocks below the Castle ruins, and the rustle of the trees in Truan woods, the movement of sheep and cattle in the hushed fields, the stirring of a rabbit in the high hedges that bordered the twisting lanes. He longed once more for the faces of simple folk, for the white wings of the crying gulls, and the call of the bells from Lanoc Church.
The Loving Spirit, Book 2, Joseph Coombe (1863-1900), Ch.2, p.118, Virago (2003).

The choice of favourite lines was absorbing and time-consuming requiring a rereading of much of Daphne's writing. My final decision is based on her love of the natural things around her at Menabilly and later at Kilmarth. She loved the daily walks through the woods down to the sea and never tired of watching the rhythm of the waves…Perhaps that is when the ideas for the magic of the plots for her writings came to be. Billie Graeme.

Rhythm is a recurring theme: Sheila Hodges, Daphne's former editor, wrote how she became fascinated by the sound of words and rhythm of phrases. CL.

Billie and her late husband Harry Graeme came to live in Fowey in 1948 and opened their photographic business in the old Noah's Ark in Fore Street. Harry died in 1965 but photography continued with painting, Billie's first love, taking a back seat. Billie was joined by Jim Matthews in 1967 who subsequently qualified in Photography. Billie now sells her oil and watercolour paintings and has published books of her paintings and drawings. Billie knew Daphne well and Jim's memorable 1970's photograph of her can be seen in Bookends of Fowey. CL.

Billie Graeme - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories|Another World (1947)

All of this poem especially the end:

… But if I must
Go wandering in Time and seek the source
Of my life force,
Lend me your sable wings, that as I fall
Beyond recall,
The sober stars may tumble in my wake,
For Jesus'sake.
The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories, Poems, p.179, Virago (2004).

Billie Graeme.

Christine Faunch - The Loving Spirit

Janet knelt beside the stream, and touched a pale forgotten primrose that grew wistfully near the water's edge. A blackbird called from the branch above her head, and flew away, scattering the white blossom on her hair. The flaming gorse bushes breathed in the sun, filling the air with a rich sweet scent, a medley of honey and fresh dew.
The Loving Spirit, Book 1, Janet Coombe (1830-1863), Ch.1, p.4, Virago (2003).

I love this introduction to Janet Coombe on the day of her wedding to her cousin, Thomas. The spring air is full of anticipation both of the new season and of the new adventure. The beauty and fragility of nature is symbolised in the pale primrose. The flight of the blackbird, scattering blossom onto her hair, juxtaposed with the heady scent of the gorse in the sun, symbolises the conflict between her inner soul's desire to fly away over the hills and the sweet but safe commitment she will make to 'settle down' with a good man and begin the dynasty. It is, of course, the calm before the storms and turmoil which comes later in the book, but it's also the perfect evocation of a spring day. Christine Faunch.

Christine Faunch is curator of the Special Collections archive at the University of Exeter. AW.

Jessica Gardner - The du Mauriers

The sea at Dover was whipped with a white foam, and the packet-boat rocked uneasily at her berth beside the wharf. The little knot of passengers stood huddled together on the quay, postponing as long as possible the departure. The chalk cliffs of English leant with supreme security against the grey menace of the sky. Gulls darted to the sleek harbour water with fretful cries. Already in the wet air there was the flavour of fish, and stale food, and that indescribable boat smell, pitchy and sour, that assails the sensitive nostrils of those who must embark against their will.
The du Mauriers, Ch.3, p.21, Virago (2004).

This passage from The Du Mauriers, a fictionalised biography of family history, represents the moment of departure from England to France of the Clarke family, including Mary Anne (Daphne du Maurier's great-great grandmother) and Ellen (her great-grandmother). In a few pages, Ellen will see for the first time a little boy called Louis. She'll meet Louis-Mathurin Busson du Maurier again later in the book in Paris and, with their marriage, the du Maurier dynasty is founded. Their son, George du Maurier, was the famous Victorian artist and novelist and grandfather to Daphne. The Du Mauriers may not be her best-known book, but the family archives held at the Special Collections of the University of Exeter reach right back to the early nineteenth-century, with evidence of the real lives of Mary Anne, Ellen, Louis and George du Maurier. In this book, Daphne du Maurier weaves together imaginative and documentary evidence to create a dramatic narrative of the family history that meant so much to her. For me, it brings the history evidence in the archive to life. Jessica Gardner.

Dr Jessica Gardner is Head of Special Collections at the University of Exeter. AW.

Minette Walters - Don't Look Now and Other Stories

Lady Althea dropped the piece of bread back into her bag, and was instantly aware, from the odd sensation in her mouth, that something was terribly wrong. She thrust her tongue upwards. It pricked against two sharp points. She looked down again at the piece of bread, and there, impaled in the ring, were her two front teeth, capped by her dentist just before she left London. She seized the hand-mirror in horror. The face that was hers belonged to her no longer. The woman who stared back at her had two small filed pegs stuck in her upper gums where the teeth should have been. They looked like broken matchsticks, discoloured, black. All trace of beauty had gone. She might have been some peasant who, old before her time, stood begging at a street corner…

'Oh, I say,' murmured Eric Chaseborough, 'bad luck. What a wretched thing to happen.'

He looked about him helplessly, as if, amongst the people mounting the steps, there might be someone who could give them the address of a dentist in Jerusalem.
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, The Way of The Cross, p.202/3, Penguin Books (2006).

This piece is from one of my favourite Daphne du Maurier short stories. It's a wonderful example of the light and shade in Daphne's writing. People often forget what a wonderful sense of humour she had, and how wittily drawn some of her characters were. The Way of the Cross is about the journey a disparate and not very congenial group of English people make to Jerusalem, and the strange routes some of them take towards redemption. This extract involves Lady Althea Mason, an appalling snob, who prides herself on her dignity and beauty. Minette Walters.

Minette Walters wrote the introduction to the Virago edition of The Rendezvous and Other Stories. CL

Piers Dudgeon - Castle Dor

It seemed to the doctor, standing there by the black pit which perhaps less than a dozen years or so ago had served as a mine shaft and been discontinued, that he hovered now in strange and sickening fashion on the threshold of another world. Whatever he said or did in the present time would only be repetition of a day gone by, and anyone who listened to his voice calling in the darkness would hear it as the voice of another, dead these thirteen hundred years.
'Trestane!' he called. 'Trestane!' and the sound of the changed name was not foolish in his ears, but strangely ominous, for the echo came back to him without the sharpness of his first cry. Now with a melancholy haunting note, the widely flung 'Trestane' sounded and died, and the echo was a whisper scarcely louder than a sigh.
Then, gripping his stick firmly in his hands, yet holding his breath with wonder, Doctor Carfax watched a figure rise slowly from the pit beyond him, climbing hand over hand from the depths, now slipping, now secure, and there was black mud about his head and shoulders, and blood upon his face, and the eyes were wild and staring...
'Who calls?'
Castle Dor, Ch.30, 'Then I must die for love of thee', p.263/4, Virago (2004).

In 1961-2, Daphne du Maurier and her husband, Tommy, researched Castle Dor together.
Her letters reveal: 'How often Tommy and I - the search for Tristan constantly in mind - strolled past Woodget Pyll and up the lane above, beside Lantyan Woods, past Lantyan Farm and down to the further creek beneath the viaduct, and wondered whether one of the islands, formed by the mud-flats in the creek when the tide withdraws, could have been the fighting ground of Tristan and Morholt'.
Here, in Castle Dor, Tristan is re-born as Amyot at Castle an Dinas, the finest hill fort in all Cornwall, in present time. This much neglected novel begun by J.M.Barrie's great friend, the Cornishman Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch returns the legend of Tristan to modern Cornwall, and put Daphne and her husband in touch with the area as never before. Piers Dudgeon.

Piers Dudgeon is the editor and co-publisher of Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall – Her Pictorial Memoir, Penguin Group (1989) and author of Captivated: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the dark side of Neverland, Chatto & Windus (2008). CL.

Alan Titchmarsh - Rebecca

We stood on a slope of a wooded hill, and the path wound away before us to a valley, by the side of a running stream. There were no dark trees here, no tangled undergrowth, but on either side of the narrow path stood azaleas and rhododendrons, not blood-coloured like the giants in the drive, but salmon, white, and gold, things of beauty and of grace, drooping their lovely, delicate heads in the soft summer rain.
The air was full of their scent, sweet and heady, and it seemed to me as though their very essence had mingled with the running waters of the stream, and become one with the falling rain and the dank rich moss beneath our feet. There was no sound here but the tumbling of the little stream, and the quiet rain. When Maxim spoke, his voice was hushed too, gentle and low, as if he had no wish to break upon the silence.
'We call it the Happy Valley,' he said.
Rebecca, Ch.10, p.121, Virago (2003).

Rebecca has haunted me since I first read it in the shed by the bowling green up in Yorkshire. As a fifteen-year-old apprentice I was taking shillings from folk who wanted to play bowls in the evening - a bit of overtime to supplement my £3.7s 6d wages. It rained all week, no-one came. I was sat in the gloomy shed and was transported to Cornwall and the haunting atmosphere of Manderley. It seemed that Mrs Danvers was peeping in through the shed window. Alan Titchmarsh.

Alan's enthusiasm for Rebecca was also evident from BBC's Big Read of 2003. Then the British public voted Daphne's most popular book number 14 in the top 100 favourite novels of all time. CL.

Lisa Appignanesi - The Scapegoat

'It's only when women have nothing to do that they get into mischief. They turn religious or take lovers.'
The Scapegoat, Ch.25, p.343, Virago (2004).

Lisa Appignanesi.

Lisa Appignanesi wrote the introduction to the Virago edition of The Scapegoat. She is President of English PEN, an organisation founded to promote literature as a means of greater understanding between cultures. CL.

Daphne du Maurier fan - The Parasites

'The thing is,' she said, 'people always think I'm ethereal. Wide-eyed and wan. I wonder why.'
'Perhaps you don't lie about with them like this,' said Niall.
'I do lie about,' she said, 'from time to time. The trouble is I go off everyone so quickly. I soon get bored.'
'Bored with the things they say? Or with the things they do?'
'With the things they do. I never listen to the things they say.'
Niall lit a cigarette. No easy matter, in his cramped position.
'It's like music,' he said. 'After all, there are only eight notes to an octave.'
'What about all those sharps and flats?'
'Well, you can play about with them,' he said.
'Think of Elgar,' she said, 'Enigma Variations. And Rachmaninoff, having fun with Paganini.'
'You set too high a standard,' said Niall. 'You must depress your friends.'
The Parasites, Ch.14, p.176, Virago (2005).

In The Du Mauriers Daphne wrote 'The du Mauriers have streaks in common…They laugh immoderately…their sense of humour is apt to be warped and tinged with satire.' Ch.17, p.310/1, Virago (2004).
I love these lines from The Parasites since they illustrate Daphne's sense of humour. The book was purportedly the nearest she came to self-analysis, with its three leading characters reflections of herself.
She wrote to Oriel Malet 9 March, 1956 that '…Niall was much more a facet of myself.' Letters from Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship, p.63, Orion Books (1994).
Rachmaninoff's 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (18th var.) was one of Daphne's favourite pieces of music that she played at night in Menabilly during the War. A Daphne du Maurier fan.

Lucy Berens - I'll Never Be Young Again

Hesta was still lying on the bed. She was staring up at the balloon that hung from the ceiling in the corner of the room. It did not seem to move at all. I chucked her a cigarette, but she did not take it. I wished she would not look so young. She had never looked so young as this. I went on gazing out of the window and smoking my cigarette. I kept my eyes fixed on the tiles of the roof, and it seemed to me that, suddenly, out of nowhere, born from a thought, I saw Jake's face looking at me, and we were in a circus tent, with the hot air about us, and the crowd swarming against the ropes. Jake - looking down at me.
It was something of horror, something of fear, and then it was gone.
Hesta was sitting up now, pulling at her dress. Why did she have to look so young? I did not know what to do, I did not know what to say. She glanced up at me, and smiled, and she seemed a child, with a child's smile. I wondered whether she expected me to sit beside her, and take her in my arms, and kiss her. If only she would not look like that. If only she were different. The orange béret lay at her feet.
The rain kept on all the time. Hesta looked up at me, waiting for me to be the first to speak, waiting for me to do something, to say something, as though in some strange way she asked for comfort. I did not know what to do.
I threw away my cigarette. 'Oh! hell!' I said, 'let's go out and get bloody drunk…'
I'll Never Be Young Again, Part 2: Hesta, Ch.4, p.211, Virago (2005).

I'll Never Be Young Again was the first D du M novel that I ever read. I was nineteen and it made me long to visit Paris. I loved her descriptions of the city, the street life and the student bars. It was a magical time for me; I wanted to be Hesta and wear an orange béret and meet the man of my dreams! Sad to say, they had bérets in all the colours of the rainbow but nothing in orange, and my man did not show up until five years later in a windswept Aberdeen! Now, perhaps I too can hear a bird singing from a long way off. He seems to be saying.
'I'll never be young again- I'll never be young again.' Lucy Berens.

Sam Rimington - The House on the Strand

He did not say anything. He just sat there staring at me.
The telephone went on ringing, and I crossed the room to answer it, but a silly thing happened as I picked up the receiver. I couldn't hold it properly; my fingers and the palm of my hand went numb, and it slipped out of my grasp and crashed to the floor. The House on the Strand, Ch.24, p.329. Virago (2003).

Drugs were all the rage in some circles when Daphne wrote this book; she even contemplated trying them herself, in the interests of research, but decided, wisely, against going through with it. It always fills me with horror thinking how Dick becomes enmeshed in the power of the time travelling drug and is ultimately lost. Sam Rimington.

Thomas Clyde - Don't Look Now and Other Stories

I am a schoolmaster by profession. Or was. I handed in my resignation to the Head before the end of the summer term in order to forestall inevitable dismissal. The reason I gave was true enough - ill-health, caused by a wretched bug picked up on holiday in Crete, which might necessitate a stay in hospital of several weeks, various injections, etc. I did not specify the nature of the bug. He knew, though, and so did the rest of the staff. And the boys. My complaint is universal, and has been so through the ages, an excuse for jest and hilarious laughter from earliest times, until one of us oversteps the mark and becomes a menace to society. Then we are given the boot. The passer-by averts his gaze, and we are left to crawl out of the ditch alone, or stay there and die.
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Not After Midnight, p.56, Penguin (2006).

He was making an effort to pull himself together, and still rocking on his feet he fumbled for a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. He lit one for himself, then offered me the packet. I shook my head, telling him I did not smoke. Then, greatly daring, I observed, 'I don't drink either.'
'Good for you,' he answered astonishingly, 'neither do I. The beer they sell you here is all piss anyway, and the wine is poison.' He looked over his shoulder to the group at the café and with a conspiratorial wink dragged me to the wall beside the pool.
'I told you all those bastards are Turks, and so they are,' he said, 'wine-drinking, coffee-drinking Turks. They haven't brewed the right stuff here for over five thousand years. They knew how to do it then.'
I remembered what the bar-tender had told me about the pig-swill in his chalet. 'Is that so?' I enquired.
He winked again, and then his slit eyes widened, and I noticed that they were naturally bulbous and protuberant, a discoloured muddy brown with the whites red-flecked. 'Know something?' he whispered hoarsely. 'The scholars have got it all wrong. It was beer the Cretans drank here in the mountains, brewed from spruce and ivy, long before wine. Wine was discovered centuries later by the God-damn Greeks.'
He steadied himself, one hand on the wall, the other on my arm. Then he leant forward and was sick into the pool. I was very nearly sick myself.
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Not After Midnight, p.75/76, Penguin (2006).

As a teacher myself and a frequent visitor to Crete, I have a certain sympathy with Timothy Grey, the narrator of Not After Midnight. Several years ago a similar encounter occurred between myself and an inebriated American who had very fixed views on the Greek Classics! I much admire Dame Daphne's short stories and in particular those set in foreign climes. I had the good fortune to stay at The Minos Beach Hotel where this bewitching tale is set and it is most rewarding to gaze upon the chalets overlooking the Gulf of Mirabello and imagine the demonic Mr.Stoll drinking his evil blend of beer brewed from spruce and ivy whilst the smiling god Dionysus awaits his next victim. Thomas Clyde.

Freddie Browning - Rule Britannia

'…Anyway it's another day, and life is for living, isn't it? How's Madam?'
'It's her birthday,' said Emma, 'and she's asleep in the basement, or was. We none of us went to bed last night.' She turned to Bevil Summers. 'It's really been rather a strain, but you know how she is, she never let's go. Now Joe and Terry are back all will be well. There, she is awake. What a happy birthday greeting for her.'
Mad was standing at the top of the steps by the porch. She was holding out her arms to both the boys. They were laughing and talking together, they didn't see her. They went straight past her and into the hall. Had they done it on purpose, was it a joke? Mad was still standing there with her arms open, smiling at Emma. Then she wasn't there any more.
'What's the matter?' asked Bevil Summers.
Emma did not answer for a moment. What was it her grandmother had said last night to Andy, on sentry duty at the cellar door? 'We're all together. What a good time to go.' Now it was true - they were all together, for Joe and Terry had come home.
When she spoke her voice was calm. 'I think you had better go down to the basement. Mad has been asleep for a very long time.'
He glanced at her quickly, then ran up the steps into the house, brushing past a small figure at the entrance. Sam came down from the porch, carrying something in his arms. He stood on the path a moment, then lifted his hands.
'I thought I'd let the pigeon go. I had a feeling she wanted to be free.'
The bird didn't fly far, though. She circled a moment, then settled on the branch of an ilex tree overlooking the ploughed field. It wasn't misty any more. The helicopters were still flying eastward into the sun.
Rule Britannia, Ch.22, p.321/2, Virago (2004).

From a personal point of view, I've always found the end of Rule Britannia poignant. Here is Daphne signing off from all those neurotic, tortured, fictional narrators / alto egos, with the bathos of Mad in her dotage. No paranoid air of menace, no gothic gasp of suspense, or ragnorakian burning of Manderley here, just a ghosting away of her loving spirit, surrounded by a virtual phantasm of friends and family, going gently into that good night. This is the way the word {sic} ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
This is the last farewell of Daphne's love affair with fiction, nothing left her now but the memoirs. Freddie Browning.

Freddie Browning is Daphne du Maurier's grandson. CL.

Sam Rimington - My Cousin Rachel

The words were scrawled, almost illegible.
'For God's sake, come to me quickly. She has done for me at last, Rachel my torment. If you delay, it may be too late. Ambrose'
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.3, p.27, Virago (2003).

Yet I was in error even then, she called me Ambrose....
They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more though.
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.26, p.335, Virago (2003).

I read somewhere that even Daphne herself didn't know the truth of the matter; was Rachel angel or devil. When as a teenager I saw the Richard Burton, Olivia de Havilland film, I remember spending an age trying to decide, but eventually gave it up! Sam Rimington.

A du Maurier fan - Julius

'I adore Wagner,' she was saying. 'It's useless to talk to me about Italian opera. I don't know, Mr Lévy, if you know the duet in Tristan - those opening bars, that swell of mystery and enchantment…' He let her go on with it, murmuring 'Yes' and 'No' as seemed to be expected; but he was considering with some hostility that the virgin daughter of a man like Walter Dreyfus could only be approached through marriage. He pushed the annoyance of this aside for a while…
Julius, Part 3, Manhood (1890-1910), p.159/160, Virago (2004).

'Yes, Mr Lévy, I'm sure your reaction to Parsifal must be extremely interesting, you must have been astonished at such serious romanticism.'
'You are rather lovely in your way,' thought Julius, 'but it would do you a world of good to be put to bed.' And aloud he said coldly, speaking more to Hartmann than to her: 'I only understand two kinds of music. One, the songs without words or melody that my father used to play on the flute - he was a wretched fellow who couldn't sell a kilo of cheese without muddling the change, but he played like a god - and the other is the music thumped on drums in the native quarter of Algiers and danced to by little naked prostitutes of twelve years old.'
There was an uncomfortable silence…
Julius, Part 3, Manhood (1890-1910), p162, Virago (2004).

Here we have the manifestation of evil; a manipulative Julius hardened by an impoverished upbringing of brutal self-sufficiency. Now a very successful London businessman he needed a wife with the right society background.
In this dialogue between Julius Lévy and Rachel Dreyfus at their formal introduction, Daphne portrays a playful Rachel discussing opera with Julius whom she well knew had little experience of the genre. Julius' disarmingly honest reaction should have sent a clear message to Rachel. 'There was an uncomfortable silence…' What a deliciously, vivid, flesh-tingling image that those few words create. Eventually, of course, they married with disastrous consequences for Rachel and their equally manipulative daughter Gabriel.
Yet another example which challenges the myth of Daphne being just a romantic novelist.
A du Maurier fan.

Julius was originally published with the title The Progress of Julius. AW.

Jemma Hatt - My Cousin Rachel

She had so many faces, so many guises, and that name contessa, used by the servant Giuseppe and by Rainaldi too, in preference for Mrs Ashley, gave to her a kind of aura she had never had with me at first, when I had seen her as another Mrs Pascoe. Since my journey to the villa she had become a monster, larger than life itself. Her eyes were black as sloes, her features aquiline like Rainaldi's, and she moved about those musty villa rooms sinuous and silent, like a snake.
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.6, p.52/53, Virago (2003).

These lines stand out in my memory because they suggest how dangerous loneliness combined with imagination can be, as well as how carried away Philip gets when he thinks about Rachel. Although he likens Rachel to a snake, it is Philip who appears to have all of the venom! Philip's fallibility as a narrator renders Rachel's character all the more mysterious and compelling. Jemma Hatt.

Helen Taylor - Myself When Young

'All very simple,' I recorded, 'quickly over. And afterwards Mrs Hunkin called me Mrs Browning, which sounded so strange. When we got back to the harbour everyone seemed to know what had happened, and people were waving from houses and cottages. We quickly had breakfast, then loaded stores on to Yggy, and set off for the harbour mouth and the open sea. The Quiller-Couches, in their rowing-boat, hailed us and presented a bottle of their home-brewed sloe gin. Then we were away, heading down-channel for the Helford River and Frenchman's Creek. We couldn't have chosen anything more beautiful.' Myself When Young, Ch.6, Apprenticeship, p.195, Virago (2004).

In 1977, Daphne published her intriguing and enigmatic memoir, Myself When Young, which - uncharacteristically for her - concludes rather romantically. Given her avowedly deeply sceptical approach to romance of all kinds, this closure deserves attention. It records her wedding day, 19 July 1932, and thus concludes her autobiographical account on that most conventionally promising and happy note - marriage.
But this is a marriage described at one remove: Daphne ventures no comment from her 70-year-old widow's consciousness. Instead, she quotes from her 25-year-old's diary, both the night before and the day itself. The night before she claims to be 'doing this with my eyes open', wanting 'a fuller life, greater knowledge, and understanding'. She bids adieu to 'Daphne du Maurier', and says she'll henceforward come to know 'what it was to love a man who was my husband, not a son, not a brother'. The terms of this diary entry are chillingly cerebral and philosophically engaged - though reminding us of the complex familial relations she had already enjoyed with her father and other men - but curiously lacking in emotion and passion, and very obliquely focussed on her future husband, Tommy Browning (not named in the final page).
The diary entry for the day itself describes a sense of relief - that the wedding was simple, brief and designed for a quick getaway. This passage contains the strengths of Daphne du Maurier's writing: narrative clarity, topographical precision, and an ability to select details and small incidents that create atmosphere, emotional ambivalence and complexity. Is the last line a gentle parody of romantic fiction, or a heart-felt expression of emotional release following a public ceremony of the kind she always hated? In view of the problematic and often troubled nature of her long married life, on which she must have been reflecting as she reached the limits of the autobiography she was prepared to share with the world, there is a poignancy in these optimistic diary entries without further gloss. As ever with Du Maurier's writing, the condensed narration, allusive and suggestive references, and the hint of many a story untold, speak volumes. The final words of this book still bring tears to my eyes. Helen Taylor.

Myself When Young was originally published with the title Growing Pains: The Shaping of a Writer. AW.

Piers Dudgeon - Rebecca

I was writing letters in the morning-room. I was sending out invitations. I wrote them all myself with a thick black pen. But when I looked down to see what I had written it was not my small square handwriting at all, it was long and slanting, with curious pointed strokes. I pushed the cards away from the blotter and hid them. I got up and went to the looking-glass. A face stared back at me that was not my own. It was very pale, very lovely, framed in a cloud of dark hair. The eyes narrowed and smiled. The lips parted. The face in the glass stared back at me and laughed. And I saw then that she was sitting on a chair before the dressing-table in her bedroom, and Maxim was brushing her hair. He held her hair in his hands, and as he brushed it he wound it slowly into a thick rope. It twisted like a snake, and he took hold of it with both hands and smiled at Rebecca and put it round his neck.
Rebecca, Ch.27, p.426, Virago (2003).

Daphne deployed her imagination not only as a divining rod of beauty and mystery, but also as an instrument of alchemy to transform her own life. She transmuted the dull, wifely Mrs de Winter into the avatar Rebecca. Piers Dudgeon.

Piers Dudgeon is the editor and co-publisher of Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall – Her Pictorial Memoir, Penguin Group (1989) and author of Captivated: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the dark side of Neverland, Chatto & Windus (2008). CL.

Sam Rimington - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

...when my husband died in March of this past year it was as though the sheltered cloudland that had enveloped me for years…suddenly dissolved …The husband I had loved and taken for granted for thirty-three years of married life, father of my three children lay dead…
I should have observed…that his eyes followed me with greater intensity,…How heartless, in retrospect, my last night, when he murmured to me, "I can't sleep", and I kissed him and said, "You will, darling, you will", and went from the room…if I had sat with him all night, the morning would have been otherwise. …when morning came, and the nurses…expressed some anxiety about his pallor and asked me to telephone the doctor, I went through to him expecting possibly an increase of weakness, but inevitably the usual smile. Instead…he turned his face to me, and died.
...What had to be endured must be endured…alone…
To ease the pain…I wore his shirts…used his pens to acknowledge the hundreds of letters…felt closer to him.
Yet I had seen his empty shell. I had seen the light flicker and go out. Where had it gone? ...does each one of us, in the end, vanish into darkness? If this is so, and our dreams of survival after death are only dreams, then we must accept this too…with courage. To have lived at all is a measure of immortality; …It is as though every human being born into this world burns, for a brief moment, like a star, and because of it a pinpoint of light shines in the darkness, and so there is glory, so there is life. If there is nothing more than this we have achieved our immortality. The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, Death and Widowhood (1966), p.123, 124, 125, 126, 127, Virago (2004).

In this much reduced quotation, (my last for now, and my deepest 'favourite', if that is the correct word!), I hear Daphne talking, her clear voice, and witness her gallant demeanor, facing the inevitable conclusion which time brings. Her love and grief for her husband's loss is there for all, who will, to see. She obviously faced the possibility of their not knowingly meeting again; that their lives together revealed their only certain immortality. I find Daphne's clear sighted bravery deeply moving. Sam Rimington.

Susan Strachan - The Scapegoat

In Blois, in the châteaux, feeling the smoke-blackened walls with my hands, a thousand people might ache and suffer a few hundred yards away but I saw none of them. For there beside me would be Henry III, perfumed and bejewelled, touching my shoulder with a velvet glove, a lapdog in the crook of his arm as though he nursed a child; and the false charm of his crafty feminine face was plainer to me than the mask of the gaping tourist at my side, fumbling for a sweet in a paper-bag, while a waited for a footstep, for a cry, and for the Duc de Guise to die.
The Scapegoat, Ch.1, p.2, Virago (2004).

Someone jolted my elbow and I drank and said 'Je vous demande pardon,' and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realised, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.
I was looking at myself.
The Scapegoat, Ch.1, p.9, Virago (2004).

My favourite quote of all time is, like for many others, the opening line of Rebecca, followed by much of The Loving Spirit which kept me forever in Polruan long before I came here to live full time. In fact much of Daphne's Cornish prose transports one here immediately on reading as the love she felt for Cornwall leaps out of the page and into your mind as you can see exactly where she means you to be. Because of her excellent sense of place I found she has done this in other of her novels coupled with a fascination for history and a love of France as in The Scapegoat. Susan Strachan.

Susan Strachan - Mary Anne

Then away they went, out of the dark alley where the sun never shone, through the maze of small courts adjoining, and so into Chancery Lane and down into Fleet Street.
This was another world, and one she loved, full of colour and sound and smell, but not the smell of the alley. Here people jostled one another on the pavement, here the traffic rumbled on towards Ludgate Hill and St. Pauls, the carters cracking their whips and shouting, drawing their horses to the side of the road as a coach passed, splattering mud. Here a fine gentleman would step out of his chair to visit a bookshop, while a woman selling lavender thrust a bunch under his nose, and there on the opposite side a cart overtipped, spilling apples and oranges, tumbling into the gutter a blind musician and an old man mending a chair.
Mary Anne, Part 1, Ch.2, p.14/5, Virago (2004).

She heard a sound behind her. The screen was moving, the whole thing folding back, displaying doors - and doors that were open to a room within. Leaning against the doors a man was standing, hands in the lapels of his coat, legs crossed. Height about six foot two, florid complexion, prominent blue eyes, a largish nose, age – roughly - forty. His face she recognised at once with a sinking heart, seen fifty, a hundred times, in papers, pamphlets. A face that was waved to from a crowd of a thousand others, the wave acknowledged, salute to the hat, and finish. Now it was far too close and personal for comfort. Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany.
Mary Anne, Part 2, Ch.2, p.118/9, Virago (2004).

Daphne has been quoted as having a fascination with ancestry and so wrote about one of hers; Mary Anne. A sense of place sets the scene in my first extract and later in my second. Susan Strachan.

Festivalgoer - The Parasites

Someone from a newspaper had telephoned him the other day. 'Mr Delaney, we are running a series shortly in our paper, “What Success has done for Me.” Can we have your contribution?' No, they could not have his contribution. All success had done for him was to make it impossible to pay his super-tax. 'But what is your recipe, Mr Delaney, for the short road to success?' Mr Delaney had no recipe.

Success. Well, what did it mean, to him? Supposing he had answered the newspaper and spoken the truth? A song burning in his head for two days until he had written it down, when he was purged; when he was free again. Until the next pain came. And the performance was repeated. The disillusion came when the songs were plugged upon the air, moaned by crooners, whispered by wailing women, clanged by orchestras, hummed by housemaids; so that what had been once his little private pain became, to put it bluntly, everyone's diarrhoea. Which was cheapening and intolerable. Negroes offered thousands for the rights to sing his songs. God! The cheques that had rolled in from coloured crooners. Too many cheques, all in one year. Niall had to attend conferences in the City with hard-faced men round desks, all because of some little song that had come into his head one afternoon, when lying on his back in the sun. How to escape? Travel. He could always travel.
The Parasites, Ch.19, p.259/260, Virago (2005).

With the three main characters, Maria, Niall and Celia each facets of Daphne, the autobiographic influences have always fascinated me. More evidence of the light and shade in her writing, here we glimpse Daphne's wonderful humour alongside more solemn reflections. The less palatable price of fame is portrayed, doubtless based on personal experience. Daphne's own intolerable tax situation; (£22,500 on an income of £25,000 in 1942-enough to buy a Lancaster bomber! she once observed: Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster, Ch.11, p. 173/4, Arrow (2007). What better example of HMG's most parasitic agency, a cruel irony in Daphne's case. And then the unrelenting public acclaim. Oh dear Daphne! But at least you were spared the worst excesses of paparazzi! Festivalgoer.

Government records show maximum UK marginal rates of income tax and super-tax in 1948 of 97.5%. If this wasn't bad enough, up to a further 50% special contribution could be levied on investment income. This puts Daphne's constant monetary concerns into perspective! CL.

Caroline Metcalfe - My Cousin Rachel

They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more, though.
…Tom Jenkyn, battered specimen of humanity, unrecognisable and unlamented, did you, all those years ago, stare after me in pity as I went running down the woods into the future?
They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more, though.
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.1, p.1, 7 & Ch.26, p.335, Virago (2003).

I love the beginning and ending of My Cousin Rachel. Caroline Metcalfe.

Caroline Metcalfe - Mary Anne

'Come far?' asked her next-door neighbour, sucking an orange.
'Only from round the corner,' she said, 'from Bowling Inn Alley,'
The bells of St Martin's began to toll but she went on sitting there, eating her bread-and-cheese, tossing the rind to the pigeons that spattered the steps, and watching a million starlings span the sky.
Mary Anne, Part 4, Ch.6, p.385, Virago (2004).

I love the end of Mary Anne when she has been the mistress of a prince and is reduced again to poverty and someone asks her if she has come far. Caroline Metcalfe.

Amanda Craig - My Cousin Rachel

'In England,' I said, 'especially down here, we lay great stress upon the weather. We have to, by the sea. Our land isn't very rich, you see, for farming; not as it is up-country. The soil is poor, and with four days out of seven wet we're very dependent on the sun when it does shine…'
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.8, p.82, Virago (2003).

Everything you need to know about Phillip Ashley's Englishness, his emotionally stunted nature, is in this paragraph as he talks uncomprehendingly to his Italian cousin Rachel, for whom generosity like the sun is natural. Amanda Craig.

Amanda Craig wrote the introduction to the Virago edition of The Flight of the Falcon. AW.

Amanda Craig - Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Rebecca, Ch.1, p.1, Virago (2003).

Is it a dream or a nightmare? The nameless heroine's yearning for her husband's lost ruined house seems almost greater than her love for him. It's the first novel I read that captured the passion one may feel not for a person, but for a place. Amanda Craig.

Amanda Craig wrote the introduction to the Virago edition of The Flight of the Falcon. AW.

Piers Dudgeon - Enchanted Cornwall

Next morning I did a thing I had never done before, nor ever did again, except once in the desert, where to see sunrise is the peak of all experience. In short, I rose at 5.00 am. I pulled across the harbour in my pram, walked through the sleeping town and climbed out upon the cliffs just as the sun himself climbed out on Pont Hill behind me. The sea was glass. The air was soft and misty warm. And the only other creature out of bed was a fisherman, hauling crab pots at the harbour mouth. It gave me a fine feeling of conceit, to be up before the world. My feet in sand shoes seemed like wings. I came down to Pridmouth Bay, passing the solitary cottage by the lake, and, opening a small gate hard by, I saw a narrow path leading to the woods. Now, at last, I had the day before me, and no owls, no moon, no shadows could turn me back.
I followed the path to the summit of the hill and then, emerging from the woods, turned left, and found myself upon a high grass walk, with all the bay stretched out below me and the Gribben Head beyond.
I paused, stung by the beauty of that first pink glow of sunrise on the water, but the path led on, and I would not be deterred. Then I saw them for the first time - the scarlet rhododendrons. Massive and high they reared above my head, shielding the entrance to a long smooth lawn. I was hard upon it now, the place I sought. Some instinct made me crouch upon my belly and crawl softly to the wet grass at the foot of the shrubs. The morning mist was lifting, the sun was coming up above the trees even as the moon had done last autumn. This time there was no owl, but blackbird, thrush and robin greeting the summer day.
I edged my way on to the lawn, and there she stood. My house of secrets. My elusive Menabilly...
Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall - Her Pictorial Memoir, Ch.4, The Calamity of Yesterday, p121/4, Penguin Group (1989).

One of my favourite Daphne du Maurier pieces captures the thrill of her first feelings for the beauty of Cornwall, driven by an infinite capacity also to savour its mystery. Piers Dudgeon.

This quote, with minor variations to the wording, can also be found in Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer, Ch.6, p.151/152, Virago (2004). AW.

Piers Dudgeon is the editor and co-publisher of Daphne du Maurier: Enchanted Cornwall – Her Pictorial Memoir, Penguin Group (1989) and author of Captivated: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the dark side of Neverland, Chatto & Windus (2008). CL.

Susan Hill

Writers should be read - but neither seen nor heard.

She was dead right too…Susan Hill.

Susan Hill's favourite line has been widely attributed to Daphne du Maurier on the internet, however, the origin is unclear. The most likely source would seem to be a letter Daphne wrote in August 1938 to her close friend Foy Quiller-Couch following the publication of Rebecca and consequent guesting at a Foyle's Literary Lunch. She did not have to speak but was clearly unimpressed with the speeches of at least one of her fellow guest authors, and wrote to Foy that authors never should be seen or heard. There is a reference to this in Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster, Ch.9, p.139, Arrow Books (2007). CL.

Susan Hill wrote Mrs de Winter, Sinclair-Stevenson (1993) a sequel to Rebecca. CL.

Ella Westland - The House on the Strand

The first thing I noticed was the clarity of the air, and then the sharp green colour of the land. There was no softness anywhere. The distant hills did not blend into the sky but stood out like rocks, so close that I could almost touch them, their proximity giving me that shock of surprise and wonder which a child feels looking for the first time through a telescope … every impression was heightened, every part of me singularly aware: eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, all had been in some way sharpened.
The House on the Strand, Ch.1, p1, Virago (2003).

So much of Daphne du Maurier's power as a novelist derives from her brilliance in sweeping her readers along for chapter after chapter that I have found it hard to capture the qualities that I most admire in her writing in a few quotable lines. One of the ways she casts her spell, however, is through mesmerising description, and she was particularly adept in using it in her opening pages to inveigle readers into the world of a novel. These arresting words from the beginning of The House on the Strand take us immediately inside her narrator's head to share the intensity of his drug-induced vision. Ella Westland.

Ella Westland is the author of Reading Daphne, Truran (2007). CL.

Ella Westland - The Scapegoat

… I lived and breathed and had my being as a law-abiding, quiet, donnish individual of thirty-eight. But to the self who clamoured for release, the man within? How did my poor record seem to him?
Who he was and whence he sprang, what urges and what longings he might possess, I could not tell. I was so used to denying him expression that his ways were unknown to me; but he might have had a mocking laugh, a casual heart, a swift-roused temper, and a ribald tongue … Perhaps, if I had not kept him locked within me, he might have laughed, roistered, fought and lied.
The Scapegoat, Ch.1, p.6/7, Virago (2004)

For me, The Scapegoat epitomises that desire to live out the life of a more primitive and passionate inner self which runs obsessively through Daphne du Maurier's fiction – from Janet Coombe's yearning for freedom in her first novel, The Loving Spirit, to Dick Young's immersion in a parallel medieval world in her late book, The House on the Strand. Donnish John in The Scapegoat seizes his chance to try on Don Juan for size, though the quiet self-questioning side of his character prevails. Ella Westland.

Ella Westland is the author of Reading Daphne, Truran (2007). CL.

Ella Westland - The Parasites

Maria shook her head.
'He doesn't really love me,' she said: 'he only loves the idea he once had of me. … The whole thing was an illusion.'
And even now, she thought, gazing into the fire, as I say these things to Niall and Celia, who understand, I'm still acting. I'm looking at myself, I'm seeing a person called Maria lying on a sofa and losing the love of her husband, and I'm sad for that poor, lonely soul, I want to weep for her; but me, the real me, is making faces in the corner.
The Parasites, Ch.3, p.23/4,Virago (2005).

Acting ran deep in the du Maurier psyche. Actors – like writers - are held to be highly empathetic and creative, yet they must also possess a steely propensity for dispassionate observation. What Maria knows is that such a gift comes at a cost, especially when she turns herself and those close to her into the objects of her attention. Maria's insight into the private life of an artist in this passage brings us close, I feel, to the author of the novel. Had I been given a opportunity to meet Daphne du Maurier, who died a few months before I moved to Cornwall, I would have expected to find her outwardly poised and polite, while remaining coolly aware of her own performance, inwardly 'making faces in the corner'. Ella Westland.
Ella Westland is the author of Reading Daphne, Truran (2007). CL.

Siobhan Isles - Frenchman's Creek

The yachtsman goes below to the snug security of his cabin, and browsing amongst his books he finds at last the thing for which he has been searching. It is a map of Cornwall, ill-drawn and inaccurate, picked up in an idle moment in a Truro bookshop. The parchment is faded and yellow, the markings indistinct. The spelling belongs to another century. Helford river is traced fairly enough, and so are the hamlets of Constantine and Gweek. But the yachtsman looks away from them to the marking of a narrow inlet, branching from the parent river, its short, twisting course running westward into a valley. Someone has scratched the name in thin faded letters - Frenchman's Creek.
The yachtsman puzzles awhile over the name, then shrugs his shoulders and rolls away the map. Presently he sleeps. The anchorage is still. No wind blows upon the water, and the night-jars are silent. The yachtsman dreams - and as the tide surges gently about his ship and the moon shines on the quiet river, soft murmurs come to him, and the past becomes the present.
A forgotten century peers out of dust and cobwebs and he walks in another time.
Frenchman's Creek, Ch.1, p.5, Virago (2003).

When I open my book of Frenchman's Creek, I always feel as though a delicate breeze has just ruffled my hair - as if, from the pages, Frenchman's Creek has stirred from its slumbers, just for a moment, before it disappears forever like a hazy childhood memory which I can't recapture or pin down, but is always there, somewhere, waiting for me to find it. I cajoled my family into hiring a boat, while we were at the 2009 Du Maurier Festival, so I could sail it into Frenchman's Creek. Upon reaching the top of the Creek, where the trees creep into the water, and the still pool at the end beckons, I had the same feeling I have every time I open the book - a feeling of stepping back, of trespassing into a century I'm not supposed to be in, just like the yachtsman above. To me, Daphne's evocation of the past bleeding into the present is the best I've ever read, and it sends a warm shiver up my spine every time. Siobhan Isles.

Siobhan Isles - The King's General

It was thus, then, that I, Honor Harris of Lanrest, became a cripple, losing all power in my legs from that day forward until this day on which I write, so that for some twenty-five years now I have been upon my back, or upright in a chair, never walking any more, or feeling the ground beneath my feet. If anyone therefore thinks that a cripple makes an indifferent heroine to a tale, now is the time to close these pages and desist from reading.
The King's General, Ch.5, p.51, Virago (2004).

I love the challenge Honor throws down to the reader here. Her feisty wisdom pours from the lines, the paradox contained within is compelling - one MUST read on, the lines propel the narrative and the reader forward - irresistibly. Siobhan Isles.

Bob Tucker - The Flight of the Falcon

Someone was playing the piano... My lips framed a silent echo to the sound as it rose and fell, half gay, half sad, a timeless melody. Debussy. Yes, Debussy. The well-worn 'Arabesque,' but with a master touch. I stood beneath the wall and listened. The music ebbed and flowed, changed mood and entered the more solemn phrases, and then again that first light-hearted ripple, higher, ever higher, confident and gay, but at last with a descending scale, dissolving, vanishing. It seemed to say: All over, nevermore. The innocence of youth, the joy of childhood, leaping from bed to welcome a new day…all gone, the fervour spent. The repetition of the phrase was only a reminder, an echo of what had been. So swift to go, impossible to hold.
The Flight of the Falcon, Ch.5, p.56/7, Virago (2005).

I enjoy the way Daphne makes the scene come to life so vividly. You actually feel as if you are there as the narrator (Fabbio) and as if you can hear Signora Butali playing Debussy's Première Arabesque. To find such enchanting music in such an austere place, a walled city, makes the setting come alive more than usual in literature. I guess it reminds me of Proust's 'little phrase' in Remembrance of Things Past, which makes that music so real, something you can really get excited about. Daphne's book is one my father enjoyed and recommended before he passed away, which makes that book more special for me, even as my mother loved The Glass Blowers. I remember I had just finished reading The Flight of The Falcon and met a co-worker friend at a reception, who asked me if I'd read anything good lately? When I told him about Falcon he said he had just returned from a month's stay in Urbino and had much enjoyed his time there. Bob Tucker (US).

Debussy's Arabesque is a very light melody, dreamy and in the impressionistic mode of the time (Paris: 1888). There are many changes of mood, sometimes passionate, sometime gentle, exciting at times, calming at others. The tempo varies with different moods. It creates images of a sunny day in spring, a quiet walk in the park. Daphne learned the piece when being taught to play piano. Little wonder it was one of her favorites. Letters from Menabilly, Portrait of a Friendship, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, (1993), p168. CL.

Jane Dunn - The Rendezvous and Other Stories

The party had been dull, tedious, and after all the man had never turned up. Only his daughter, a young unsophisticated girl, red elbows in evening dress. Not unattractive in profile but too young, much too young. Still, he had to make the most of his time. After all, her father was an important man...
He spoke to her early in the evening, and towards the end he was still by her side. 'Do you know, I swear I am not flattering you, but the moment I saw you I said to myself, "There is someone who will understand." It was something about your eyes, I think.'
The girl gazed at him flushing. 'Oh! but nobody has ever talked to me like this before. You see, being my father's daughter they expect me to echo his remarks, and they don't seem to imagine for an instant that I have a mind of my own... Of course, you simply must meet him,' she exclaimed. 'I'm quite sure you would get on famously together.'
'You dear thing, that's very sweet and adorable of you. But listen - tell me more about yourself.'
She held on to her evening bag with hot, sticky fingers. 'Oh! There's nothing, nothing.'
'Nonsense. Anyway, I feel we are going to be friends, real friends.' He held out his cigarette case and smiled. 'You don't smoke? How refreshing. One gets so tired of these women with their eternal cigarettes.'
The girl's eyes wandered towards the figure of her hostess, surrounded by a little group of men and women. 'She's lovely. Do you know her well?'
'Oh! one comes across her from time to time,' he answered carelessly. 'But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.'
'So do I.' They smiled at each other.
'I can talk to you about anything,' he said softly, 'not only books, but things that matter. It's marvellous to be able to discuss sex with a girl of your age, and not feel self-conscious, not be aware. You're so lovely too, which makes it all the more rare and astounding. You've been told so hundreds of times.'
'No - never -'
'But that is absolutely remarkable.' He moved closer, pressing her knee.
Then his hostess moved from her group towards them. He rose to his feet and made an excuse to the girl.
'For the last hour I've been driven nearly mad' he whispered rapidly. 'I haven't seen you for a moment alone... And I've been sitting here, chatting to this little schoolgirl, watching you. Gosh - you look wonderful – wonderful.'
The Rendezvous and Other Stories, The Lover, p182/4, Virago (2005).

If I'm choosing my real favourite du Maurier lines then it would have to be one of the many evocative descriptions of Cornwall, the magical destination for all our childhood holidays where we seemed to slip into a parallel world of barefoot life, smugglers' coves, high seas and hot porridge after our morning swim. But as a contrast I've chosen something utterly unromantic and uncomfortable, but remarkable just the same.
Every time I read this short story it gives me a kind of chill and I feel anxious for the girl (perhaps she reminds me of my young self) so naive and vulnerable - 'red elbows in evening dress' a quite brilliant and economical way of conjuring her presence. I particularly admire Daphne du Maurier for her fearless depiction of truly unlovable characters - in this story the nameless 'hero' is a heartless, lying cad, a false seducer of women. But his lovers, also nameless, are pathetic and greedy women conniving at their own betrayal. The author's contempt for them is palpable. Only the gauche girl at the party deserves sympathy and the reader's fear is that, initiated into life by these predatory adults, she can only become as cynical and corrupt as them. It's a chilling view of human relationships and enough to turn a sensitive soul to love of animals and houses instead! Jane Dunn.

Jane Dunn - Myself When Young

I arrived home in time for D's and M's silver wedding, and there was something strangely touching about the occasion, because of the gifts they gave each other. M had gone to so much trouble to have her portrait painted, and the sad thing was that, as she uncovered it, we could see from D's face he didn't care for it at all. It was not even a good likeness. Eager to produce his own present, he unwrapped a bracelet to put on her wrist. It was too small. "Oh dear, it was so pathetic. And yet slightly absurd and somehow perfect at the same time," says the diary, and when we three sisters had presented our parents with a huge potted azalea we all went off to a family celebration lunch at the Savoy.
Myself When Young, Ch.5, Between Two Worlds, p.134/5, Virago (2004).

My favourite du Maurier lines have to be when Daphne reveals her deep love for Cornwall or an ancient sleeping-beauty of a house, both passions I, and many, share. But her unsentimental take on human character time and again pulls me up short with the singularity of her point of view.
This extract is a wonderful sketch of a marriage, so full of pathos and yet unexpectedly funny too. It illustrates so well Daphne's cool detached gaze, even when young, on something as intimate and emotionally fraught as one's parents' misunderstanding of each other. In a few deft, economical lines she suggests the relationship of two narcissists who look to each other for reflections of themselves, yet somehow muddle on in affection and familiarity, glossing over most shortfalls with lunch at the Savoy. With the enormous potted azalea as an added zany extra. Jane Dunn.

Myself When Young was originally published with the title Growing Pains: The Shaping of a Writer. AW.

Sylvia Wiltshire - Letters from Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship

'It's drab and dreary down here, and you are missing nothing, not even the Spirit moving on the face of the Waters.'
'The Spirit moving on the Waters' was the name Bing had given to a certain light which, after a stormy day, streamed down its bright ribbons upon the sea. It was supremely beautiful, and I hoped it would appear on my visits, but like all strange and lovely things, it could not be commanded at will.
Letters From Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship, p34/35, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, (1993).

This passage always comes to mind when I am on our boat, 'La Mouette', or walking along the coastline. I have on occasions seen 'The Spirit on the Waters' and as Oriel wrote it is supremely beautiful.
Sylvia Wiltshire.

Letters From Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship edited by Oriel Malet is a volume of the correspondence between Daphne du Maurier and Oriel Malet. Bing is one of Daphne du Maurier's nicknames. AW.

Charles Richard Brown - Mary Anne

She went and sat on the steps of St Martin's Church, hemmed in by grumbling men and weary women, crying children pressing against her knees, all of them huddled together for greater warmth, defeating the gusts of wind and the slanting rain.
A woman beside her offered her bread-and-cheese, and a man on the other side a swig of beer. 'Here's luck all round,' she said, and somebody laughed, and the sun came out and one of them started singing. She thought of her vestal virgins in Boulogne and George in his regimentals, stiff and pompous, and suddenly none of them mattered, not even George; she was home where she belonged, in the heart of London.
Mary Anne, Part 4, Ch.6, p.384/5, Virago (2003).

I echo the sentiments of Caroline Metcalfe as I, too, love the end of Mary Anne. But I think that the few previous sentences are just as apposite and enhance Caroline Metcalfe's choice. Mary Anne is my favourite Daphne du Maurier book - though I haven't read many - as it is based upon Regency times and London - two of my pet interests. The story is one of rags to riches to disgrace; and Mary is based upon the great-great grandmother of Daphne du Maurier.
Charles Richard Brown.

Nil Korkut - Frenchman's Creek

And all this, she thought, is only momentary, is only a fragment in time that will never come again, for yesterday already belongs to the past and is ours no longer, and tomorrow is an unknown thing that may be hostile. This is our day, our moment, the sun belongs to us, and the wind, and the sea, and the men for'ard there singing on the deck. This day is forever a day to be held and cherished, because in it we shall have lived, and loved, and nothing else matters but that, in this world of our own making to which we have escaped.
Frenchman's Creek Ch.15, p.143, Virago (2003).

Frenchman's Creek has a special place in my heart. It is a novel I first read and loved as a teenager, and each time I return to it, I have this slightly unreasonable fear that maybe this time the magic will be gone. But thankfully, I am always wrong, and there is always the same fascination. The lines I quote describe Donna's heightened feelings following her perfect adventure with the Frenchman. They are my favourite lines because they capture in a few sentences the whole mood of the novel. The spirit of adventure, the courage to do what you feel is right, the ability to feel intensely, and the value of a moment's happiness – all of this is here in these lines. As always, du Maurier's prose is so eloquent, and the vicarious thrill we get out of Donna's adventure definitely has a cathartic effect.
Nil Korkut (Turkey).

A du Maurier Fan - Don't Look Now and Other Stories

'Don't look now,' John said to his wife, 'but there are a couple of old girls two tables away who are trying to hypnotise me.'
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Don't Look Now, p.7, Penguin (2006).

The creature was gibbering in its corner. The hammering and the voices and the barking dog grew fainter, and, 'Oh God,' he thought, 'what a bloody silly way to die…'
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Don't Look Now, p.55, Penguin (2006)

The famous opening and closing lines from Daphne's short story Don't Look Now have always appealed to me. She uses the creative writer's technique of beginning a story with action that just grabs your interest immediately. Venice is the ideal setting for a supernatural tale as any visitor will tell you. Wander the dank, poorly lit streets after dark and you can imagine that only obsession would have driven John to chase the mad, red coated, dwarf that represents his lost daughter. The surprise story ending typifies so many of Daphne's short stories for example, Panic from The Rendezvous & Other Stories, p.46, Virago (2005) and Picadilly from Early Stories, p.85, Todd (1955).
A du Maurier Fan.

Dianne Armstrong - Jamaica Inn

'…Yes, I am a freak in nature and a freak in time. I do not belong here, and I was born with a grudge against the age… Peace is very hard to find in the nineteenth century. The silence is gone, even on the hills.'
Jamaica Inn, Ch.17, p.274, Virago (2003).

'There's no peace, Jem, in wandering, and no quiet. Heaven knows that existence itself is a long enough journey, without adding to the burden…'
Jamaica Inn, Ch.18, p.299, Virago (2003).

To the casual reader, two of Jamaica Inn's characters, Mary Yellan and Francis Davey, the Vicar of Altarnun, have little in common. They are separated by gender roles and authority, class, and social station as well as other markers of privilege. But these same factors make him conventionally the most likely of her rescuers. Du Maurier very successfully reverses that expectation, of course. Still, on the most fundamental spiritual level, both Mary and the Vicar have a similar yearning for certain qualities in life that I believe enables them to share sympathies.
In their long conversation toward the end of the book, Mary discovers the vicar's true character. Ironically, then, what binds both the vicar and Mary together though other values in due course separate them is neither the superficial nor material but a longing for tranquility, 'the peace that passeth all understanding,' in the words of The Book of Common Prayer. I wonder if du Maurier found the twentieth century equally as disturbing in terms of achieving that inner peace as the vicar did his own time.
Dianne Armstrong (USA).

Dianne published an article on Jamaica Inn in Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 38, Issue 1, (2009), published by Taylor & Francis (UK). Single copies can be purchased by calling the publishers. CL.

Collin Langley - The Parasites

Niall looked across the table at Maria. She was no longer Mary Rose, she was no longer anyone. She was the little girl who, nearly thirty years before, had stood at the back of the stalls and watched Mama upon the stage. She had watched Mama, and then turned to the mirrors on the wall, and the gestures that she copied were borrowed, not her own; the hands were the hands of another, so was the smile, so were the dancing feet. The eyes were the eyes of a child who lived in a world of fantasy, of masks, and faces, and scarlet hanging curtains; a child who when she was shown real life became bewildered, frightened, lost.
'No,' said Maria, 'No…'
She got up, and stood looking at Charles, with her hands clasped. The part of an injured wife was one she had never played.
The Parasites, Ch.22, p.296/7, Virago (2005).

This was the moment when the long-suffering Charles finally tells his self-centered wife Maria that he wants a divorce. The preceding metaphor (p.295) Charles uses, Maria having sucked 'the last of that orange' is tinged with du Maurier humour which of course permeates the book.
Maria immediately goes into child mode beautifully illustrated by Daphne's reference to the figure of a little girl. When I first read this passage I accepted this description without further thought. Later, whilst researching Daphne's musical tastes and their influence on her writing, I heard Daphne on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs choosing eight records to take to the mythical island. Record number four was Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Défunte. Daphne told BBC's Roy Plomley that this music evoked a painting by Velásquez, of 'a little infanta with her hands cupped as though she was dancing, I think she was Phillip 4th's daughter.' The picture re-emerges in The Parasites even down to the scarlet curtains.
The 17C Velázquez portrait of the Infanta Magarita, age 5, is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and can be found on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margarita_Teresa_of_Spain .
Curiously, the Pavane also features throughout a film of Rebecca.
Collin Langley.

Josie Dolan - My Cousin Rachel

When I stood upon the grass at sunrise, before the servants had wakened and come down to open the shutters and let in the day, I wondered if any man before me had been accepted in marriage in quite so straight a fashion. It would save many a weary courtship if it was always so. Love, and all its trappings, had not concerned me hitherto; men and women must do as best they pleased, I had not cared. I had been blind, and deaf, and sleeping; now, no longer.
What happened on those first hours of my birthday will remain. If there was passion, I have forgotten it. If there was tenderness, it is with me still. Wonder is mine forever, that a woman, accepting love, has no defence. Perhaps this is the secret that they hold to bind us to them. Making reserve of it, until the last.
I would not know, having no other for comparison. She was my first, and last.
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.21, p.253/4, Virago (2003).

I love this because it is the turning point of the novel. It follows Philips's sexual awakening before he is consumed with what transpire to be murderous jealousy and suspicion of Rachel. The writing is beautifully nuanced since it captures the young man's joy whilst also registering wisdom of hindsight of the bitter experience and guilt to come. It really displays to full advantage the economic lyricism of du Maurier at her best.
Josie Dolan.

Sheila Walsh - Don't Look Now and Other Stories

And he saw the vaporetto with Laura and the two sisters steaming down the Grand Canal, not today, not tomorrow, but the day after that, and he knew why they were together and for what sad purpose they had come. The creature was gibbering in its corner. The hammering and the voices and the barking dog grew fainter, and, 'Oh God,' he thought, 'what a bloody silly way to die…'
Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Don't Look Now, p.55, Penguin (2006).

Few, if any, of Daphne du Maurier's books or stories have conventional endings and I find those with the most final of all particularly enthralling. In The Flight of the Falcon, Aldo Donati's life ends as, Icarus/Lucifer like, he falls from the sky. Again, in The House on the Strand, Dick Young has portents of a shockingly slow death when the telephone falls from his nerveless fingers.
In both cases, as I close these books I, too, experience a sense of falling away. Yet always with a sigh of satisfaction which comes from knowing no sense of disengagement because the characters and events I have read about can be revisited at will and thus will continue to belong to me.
So on that deathly theme, my favourite phrase, startlingly simple, but oh so effective, comes at the end of Don't Look Now. After all the tensions within the story, comes the final macabre paragraph ending with a thought so characteristically sardonic of John, or should I say Daphne, to be so blackly humorous as to make me exclaim and smile. What a great epitaph! I quite fancy it being (eventually!!) on my gravestone…'what a bloody silly way to die…'
Sheila Walsh.

Maureen Freely - Rebecca

'I'm glad I killed Rebecca. I shall never have any remorse for that, never, never. But you. I can't forget what it has done to you. I was looking at you, thinking of nothing else all through lunch. It's gone forever, that funny, young, lost look that I loved. It won't come back again. I killed that too, when I told you about Rebecca… It's gone, in twenty-four hours. You are so much older…'
Rebecca, Ch.21, p335/6, Virago (2003).

I took my seventeen-year old daughter to visit Fowey. During our stay, I bought her a copy of Rebecca, and she read it voraciously. She then passed the book to her three best friends, so quite a bit of time passed by the time the book found its way back to our house. I was interested to discover how powerfully the novel speaks to the new generation. After we had talked about Rebecca for days and days, my daughter and I decided that our favourite passage was the above exchange in which Max tells the narrator that she has lost that innocent look. The passage was particularly important to me in that it had inspired my own novel. My theory was that the narrator could never have remained so innocent for so long had she lived at the end of the 20C. I set out to discover how a story travelling along the same lines as the classic might change its meaning in the hands of a less innocent narrator.
Maureen Freely.

Maureen Freely wrote The Other Rebecca, Bloomsbury Publishing (1996). CL.

Sylvia Wiltshire - Frenchman's Creek

The solitary yachtsman who leaves the yacht in the open roadstead of Helford, and goes exploring up river in his dinghy on a night in midsummer, when the night-jars call, hesitates when he comes upon the mouth of the creek, for there is something of a mystery about it even now, something of enchantment. Being a stranger, the yachtsman looks back over his shoulder to the safe yacht in the roadstead, and to the broad waters of the river, and he pauses, resting on his paddles, aware suddenly of the deep silence of the creek, of its narrow twisting channel, and he feels - for no reason known to him - that he is an interloper, a trespasser in time. He ventures a little way along the left bank of the creek, the sound of the blades upon the water seeming over-loud and echoing oddly amongst the trees on the farther bank, and as he creeps forward the creek narrows, the trees crowd yet more thickly to the water's edge, and he feels a spell upon him, fascinating, strange, a thing of queer excitement not fully understood.

He is alone, and yet - can that be a whisper, in the shallows close to the bank, and does a figure stand there, the moonlight glinting upon his buckled shoes and the cutlass in his hand, and is that a woman by his side, a cloak around her shoulders, her dark ringlets drawn back behind her ears? He is wrong, of course, those are only the shadows of the trees, and the whispers are no more than the rustle of the leaves and the stir of a sleeping bird, but he is baffled suddenly, and a little scared, he feels he must go no farther, and that the head of the creek beyond the farther bank is barred to him and must remain unvisited. And so he turns to go, heading the dinghy's nose for the roadstead, and as he pulls away the sounds and the whispers become more insistent to his ears, there comes the patter of footsteps, a call, and a cry in the night, a far faint whistle, and a curious lilting song. He strains his eyes in the darkness, and the massed shadows before him loom hard and clear like the outline of a ship. A thing of grace and beauty, born in another time, a painted phantom ship.
Frenchman's Creek, Ch.1, p.4/5, Virago (2003).

My husband and I are kindred spirits with the lone yachtsman. On a summer's evening we anchored our boat, La Mouette, in the open roadstead of Helford and rowed the dinghy into the creek. The sun was low in the sky and the trees were casting shadows across the water. The feelings of enchantment and apprehension were those described by Daphne as being felt by the yachtsman. Earlier we had walked the pathway along the east side of the creek. The sun was shining and the water was calm and inviting. Entering the creek by boat was a totally different experience.
Sylvia Wiltshire.

Deborah Bevan - My Cousin Rachel

'I love the stillness of a room after a party...'
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.12, p.121, Virago (2003).

This line is mirrored in the movie 'Daphne' and is tremendously important. Fabulous.
Deborah Bevan.

Avril Horner - Rule Britannia

The cropped white hair, curling at the nape of the neck, gave her the appearance not of a famous beauty and actress who, when she celebrated her eightieth birthday in two weeks' time, would finger nosegays and Interflora tributes with a graceful bow, but of an aged warrior, possibly a Roman legionary, who after long idleness and years of peace lifted up his head and scented battle.
Rule Britannia, Ch.2, p.13, Virago (2004).

Emma glanced nervously at her grandmother. At least she hadn't got her peaked cap on, so she didn't look too much like Mao Tse-tung. Actually, with her white hair brushed upwards like that she looked rather good. Formidable, in fact. On the other hand, it might have been better if she had been dressed to suit her near-eighty years, perhaps in a sensible skirt, and worn a soft cardigan around her shoulders, preferably pale blue, instead of that Robin Hood jerkin with leather sleeves.
Rule Britannia, Ch.3, p.29, Virago (2004).

I've chosen these two extracts from du Maurier's Rule Britannia, published in 1972, because I admire the way she chooses to make her main character, 'Mad', a feisty and unconventional octogenarian, whose behaviour and values challenge every stereotype associated with old age. Regarded by most critics as an odd and often unconvincing novel, Rule Britannia is nevertheless interesting in its anticipation of American imperialism and its attempt to present old age as a positive phase in a woman's life. As I grow older myself, I warm to du Maurier's continual desire to challenge conventional perceptions, whether they relate to sexual identity, gender relations or old age. Aged sixty-five when she published this novel, du Maurier puts something of herself (as well as that of the actress Gladys Cooper) into this redoubtable and energetic older heroine.
Avril Horner.

Avril Horner is Emeritus Professor of English, Kingston University, and co-author (with Sue Zlosnik) of Daphne du Maurier: Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination (Macmillan, 1998), as well as several articles on the author and her work. CL.

Sheila Hodges - The King's General

The sea is very white and still, without a breath upon it, and only a single thread of wash upon the covered Cannis rock. The jackdaws fly homeward to their nests in the warren. The sheep crop the short turf, before they too rub together beneath the stone wall by the winnowing place. Dusk comes slowly to the Gribben hill, the woods turn black, and suddenly, with stealthy pad, a fox creeps from the trees in the thistle park, and stands watching me, his ears pricked…Then his brush twitches and he is gone…
The King's General, Ch.28, p.287, Virago (2004).

This shows Daphne's love of the countryside and her acute observation of the changing seasons and of the flora and fauna which she noticed on her walks. She is not given enough credit for her beautiful descriptions of nature.
Sheila Hodges.

Sheila Hodges - The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories

It may be thought, by churchgoing readers, that during the course of this peaceful Sunday I continue to neglect my Maker. On the contrary, conversing with beast and bird is my way of giving thanks. And if anything deepens belief in a Creator, it is by watching wildlife in the countryside, a constant miracle, and noting the changes in their routine through the four seasons: something that applies equally to the colour and growth of trees, plants and shrubs, even weeds. They all obey natural law, which is surely God's law.
The Rebecca Notebook, Sunday (1976), p.170, Virago (2004),

Sheila edited Daphne's work whilst working at Victor Gollancz from 1943-1981.

In her biography of Daphne, A Portrait of Daphne du Maurier, Ch.25, Out of Eden, p.265/6, Bantam Press (1991), Judith Cook recalls Daphne writing about Kilmarth, 'The grounds abounded with wildlife - badgers and foxes, owls, jackdaws, swallows and martins and a host of butterflies.'
Noël Welch, Jeanne du Maurier's companion for many years, wrote an article in 1973 entitled 'The Du Mauriers' for The Cornish Review (No.24), comparing the three du Maurier sisters. 'Like their father they all love bird watching,' Noel recalls. In fact Gerald was a keen ornithologist, a passion clearly passed on to Daphne. In Frenchman's Creek alone there are over 90 references to birds, including fifteen different species. QED. CL.

Jean Margaret Gwynne - Frenchman's Creek

The farm kitchen, where the tripper takes his tea, was part of Navron dining-hall, and the little half-stair, now terminating in a bricked-up wall, was the stair leading to the gallery. The rest of the house must have crumbled away, or been demolished, for the square farm-building, though handsome enough, bears little likeness to the Navron of the old prints, shaped like the letter E, and of the formal garden and the park there is no trace today. The tripper eats his split and drinks his tea, smiling upon the landscape, knowing nothing of the woman who stood there once, long ago, in another summer, who caught the gleam of the river amidst the trees, as he does, and who lifted her head to the sky and felt the sun.
He hears the homely farm-yard noises, the clanking of pails, the lowing of cattle, the rough voices of the farmer and his son as they call to each other across the yard, but his ears are deaf to the echoes of that other time when someone whistled softly from the dark belt of trees, his hands cupped to his mouth, and was swiftly answered by the thin, stooping figure crouching beneath the walls of the silent house, while above them the casement opened, and Dona watched and listened, her hands playing a little nameless melody upon the sill, her ringlets falling forward over her face.
Frenchman's Creek, Ch.1, p.2/3, Virago (2003).

The first book by Daphne that I read – found in my aunt's attic. I have been 'involved in her world' ever since.
Jean Margaret Gwynne.

Marion Gibson - The Birds and Other Stories

At the top of the hill he waited. He was much too soon. There was half an hour still to go. The east wind came whipping across the fields from the higher ground. He stamped his feet and blew upon his hands. In the distance he could see the clay hills, white and clean, against the heavy pallor of the sky. Something black rose from behind them, like a smudge at first, then widening, becoming deeper, and the smudge became a cloud, and the cloud divided again into five other clouds, spreading north, east, south and west, and they were not clouds at all; they were birds.
The Birds and Other Stories, The Birds, p.16, Virago (2004).

This is one of my favourite moments from Daphne du Maurier's writing-it was either this or the whole of Rebecca (!). I particularly love the long last sentence, spreading out like the flocks of birds from the simple, undefined and chilling 'something' at the start. The ominous contrast of the black clouds with the white clay hills is a classic horror device, and I like its absolutely specific Cornish reference too. I drive past the clay hills everyday to work at the university campus at Penryn, where I teach on the English degree programmes, and that this great horror story should be set so close to home is thrilling. The weirdness of the 'Cornish Alps', conical and mounded clay hills as high as the moors, resonates further if you know what they look like, so that du Maurier's homely-yet-terrifying birds are flying over a kind of earthly moonscape to find and attack the people in the tale. This is a cracking short story, and it is easy to see why Hitchcock chose to film it. Read and shudder.
Dr. Marion Gibson.

Tim Heald - The Parasites

'But why, Pappy? We're only going for a night.'
'When I pack,' said Pappy, 'I pack for all eternity.'
The Parasites, Ch.16, p.203, Virago (2005).

I adore 'Pappy', who is presumably Gerald du Maurier. He is a man after my own heart – a roguish, drunken hypochondriac. I love him, he always expects disaster, especially when packing.

Tim Heald is a popular writer and journalist, he lives in Fowey. AW.

Margaret Forster - Rebecca

Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers. The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leant close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church. And there were other trees as well, trees that I did not recognize, squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled cheek by jowl with the beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered.
Rebecca, Ch.1, p.1, Virago (2003).

I think Daphne was brilliant at evoking atmosphere -“atmosphere” was always listed as her top priority - particularly of landscape. Her sense of place, and how it could influence mood/emotions, was so strong, and so important to the grip of her stories.
Margaret Forster.

As all that read Daphne's books should know, Margaret Forster's biography Daphne du Maurier, first published 1994 and re-issued in Daphne's centenary year 2007, is a fascinating, controversial and widely acclaimed work. This is essential reading for aficionados, all discovering du Maurier for the first time and occasional readers who know Rebecca but are less familiar with her other novels and short-stories. CL.

Priscilla Martin - Rebecca

'If you think I'm one of the people who try to be funny at breakfast you're wrong,' he said. 'I'm invariably ill-tempered in the early morning. I repeat to you, the choice is open to you. Either you go to America with Mrs Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.'
'Do you mean you want a secretary or something?'
'No, I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool.'
Rebecca, Ch.6, p.57, Virago (2003).

I specially like Max's proposal because it's so unromantic. I get irritated by Daphne du Maurier being described as a 'romantic novelist', when her fiction is so full of miserable marriages and the dangers of love.
Dr Priscilla Martin.

Richard Kelly - Rebecca

'Now you are here, let me show you everything,' she said, her voice ingratiating and sweet as honey, horrible, false. 'I know you want to see it all, you've wanted to for a long time, and you were too shy to ask. It's a lovely room, isn't it? The loveliest room you have ever seen.'
She took hold of my arm, and walked me towards the bed. I could not resist her, I was like a dumb thing. The touch of her hand made me shudder. And her voice was low and intimate, a voice I hated and feared.
'That was her bed. It's a beautiful bed, isn't it? I keep the golden coverlet on it always, it was her favourite. Here is her nightdress inside the case. You've been touching it, haven't you? This was the nightdress she was wearing for the last time, before she died. Would you like to touch it again?' She took the nightdress from the case and held it before me. 'Feel it, hold it,' she said, 'how soft and light it is, isn't it? I haven't washed it since she wore it for the last time. I put it out like this, and the dressing-gown and slippers, just as I put them out for her the night she never came back, the night she was drowned.' She folded up the nightgown and put it back in the case. 'I did everything for her, you know,' she said, taking my arm again, leading me to the dressing-gown and slippers.
Rebecca, Ch.14, p.189, Virago (2003).

I found this scene, in which the second Mrs. De Winter is confronted by Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca's bedroom, especially creepy and powerfully charged with an amalgam of sexual intimacy and seething hostility. Still sexually obsessed with Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers takes a masochistic and sensual delight in handling the clothes of her dead mistress, making it quite clear to the repressed second Mrs. Winter that she alone truly possesses Rebecca, even in death.
Richard Kelly, Tennessee.

Richard Kelly is Emeritus Professor of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA. He met Daphne at Kilmarth in November 1988. His biography of Daphne, the only one published before her death, contains fascinating insights on Rebecca and Daphne's other novels and some short-stories. It was published in 1987 by Twayne Publishers, Boston, USA. Richard also wrote Daphne's obituary for The Independent, 21 April 1989. This is available on the du Maurier website http://www.dumaurier.org/obituary.html . CL.

Richard Kelly has also written two interesting but hard to find books about George du Maurier. AW.

Laura Varnam - The House on the Strand

Roger was my keeper, I was his. There was no past, no present, no future. Everything living is part of the whole. We are all bound, one to the other, through time and eternity, and, our senses once opened, as mine had been opened by the drug, to a new understanding of his world and mine, fusion would take place, there would be no separation, there would be no death… This would be the ultimate meaning of the experiment, surely, that by moving about in time death was destroyed. This was what Magnus so far had not understood. To him, the drug released the complex brew within the brain that served up the savoured past. To me, it proved that the past was living still, that we were all participants, all witnesses. I was Roger, I was Bodrugan, I was Cain; and in being so was more truly myself.
The House on the Strand, Ch.14, p.189, Virago (2003).

The House on the Strand is the novel that got me hooked on the works of Daphne du Maurier. As a tutor of medieval literature, I can entirely empathise with Dick Young's excitement at the drug's ability to transport him back into the Middle Ages and be 'witness to events that happened centuries past, unremembered, unrecorded' (HOTS, Ch.6, p.72). What I love about the passage I have chosen, however, is the sinister overtones which creep into Dick's narration. His experience in the past has made him almost arrogant, he believes that he alone understands the drug's possibilities, more clearly even than Magnus, his mentor. At the time she was writing The House on the Strand, du Maurier had become interested in the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung and the notion of the 'collective unconscious', a kind of ancestral memory bank of experience shared by humanity. But here there is something rather menacing about the 'fusion' which the return of the past might provoke. The unification of mankind 'through time and eternity' - Dick, Roger, the first murderer Cain - sounds like a scientific experiment gone wrong. The desire for the destruction of death recalls the threatening, uncomfortable atmosphere of other du Maurier short stories such as The Breakthrough and Don't Look Now where curiosity and the desire for knowledge of the supernatural are accompanied by danger and risk.
Laura Varnam.

Dr Laura Varnam is tutor in Old and Middle English Literature at University College, Oxford.

At the 2007 Daphne du Maurier Centenary Conference in Fowey, organised by Exeter University, Laura presented a paper entitled Locating the Medieval Past: Daphne du Maurier and Literary Landscape. AW.

Justine Picardie - Rebecca

We can never go back, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us. The thing we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic - now mercifully stilled, thank God - might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion, as it had been before.
Rebecca, Ch.2, p.5, Virago (2003).

I love those lines because they are so tantalising and atmospheric. But they're also very potent and troubling in a peculiarly Du Maurier-ish way - because of course the entire novel is about going back, looking back in time, and taking the reader on that dark journey.
Justine Picardie.

Justine is an author and journalist. She wrote the forewords for the Virago editions of The King's General and The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte and the much acclaimed novel Daphne. AW.

Justine Picardie - Brontë Society Transactions

It is impossible, with the Brontës, as with many other writers, to say when fiction ceases and fact begins, or how often the imagination will project an imaginary image upon a living personality…
Second Thoughts on Branwell Brontë, Brontë Society Transactions, Vol.23, Pt.2, p.157 (Oct 1998).

They seem to me to be very telling lines, because they say so much about Du Maurier herself, and the way in which she was inspired by other writers - including the Brontës - as well as her ability to inspire subsequent authors (including me). Her own writing is a spellbinding blend of fiction and truth, of memoir and imagination; shaping her life and those of others into stories that legions of readers feel to be true to themselves.
Justine Picardie.

This extract comes from an undated essay written by Daphne du Maurier, probably at the time that the Winifred Gerin biography of Branwell Brontë was published in 1961, a year after The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë. It is believed that the inclusion of the essay in the Brontë Society Transactions in 1998 was the first time this text had been published.

Brontë Studies, previously Brontë Society Transactions, is the only journal solely dedicated to research on the Brontë Family. Published continuously since 1895 it aims to encourage further study and research on all matters relating to the Brontë Family, their background and writings, and their place in literary and cultural history. Original, peer-reviewed articles are published as well as papers delivered at conferences, notes on matters of interest, short notices reporting research activities and correspondence arising from items previously published in the journal. See www.bronte.org.uk . AW.

Jennie Liebenberg - My Cousin Rachel

'Rachel,' I said, 'why did not Ambrose sign the will?'
... 'I never knew,' she said; 'we did not speak of it again. But I think when he realised that I could not, after all, have children, he lost belief in me. Some sort of faith went, though he never knew it.'
As I knelt there, with my arms about her, I thought of the letter in the pocket book beneath the granite slab, with this same accusation said in other words, and I wondered how it could be that two people who had loved could yet have such a misconception of each other and, with a common grief, grow far apart. There must be something in the nature of love between a man and a woman that drove them to torment and suspicion.
...How little she had understood of Ambrose after all. And what small knowledge he had had of her.'
My Cousin Rachel, Ch.19, p.215-216, Virago (2003).

It seems to me that these words of Philip's are pivotal - he has recognised the gulf of misunderstanding between Ambrose and Rachel. If he had only had the insight at this point to relate this discovery to his own relationship with her, perhaps the story could have had a very different end. From this passage I also recognise Daphne du Maurier's skill in presenting dialogue between her characters. Whilst direct answers seem to be given to direct questions, in fact there is no seeking confirmation by any party that what they think they've understood is what was actually meant, and the reader becomes aware how much at cross-purposes the different characters can be with one another. This shows, it seems to me, keen observation of human conversation, which can often conceal more than it reveals, and, despite apparent candour, obscure the whole truth with often tragic and sometimes fatal consequences.
Jennie Liebenberg.

Sylvia Wiltshire - Vanishing Cornwall

There are no more Arundells, and no more Grenvilles. These two families, the proudest and the most famous amongst Cornish gentry, became extinct in Cornwall, the name passing to other branches east of Tamar. The curious and nostalgic, desiring to wander where the Grenvilles once rode, hawked and hunted, can first drive to Kilkhampton church and look upon their sculptured monuments, then turn coastward towards Coombe, where the fine old farmhouse of Stowe Barton stands above the site of the two Grenville homes. Across the road are the foundations of the great house that John Grenville, son of Bevil, built over the remains of his father's dwelling when he was created Earl of Bath after the Restoration. This was pulled down after his death and today there is little left of terraces and gardens but the old encircling walls. The coast and high cliffs are very near, and the clean, sharp air blows upon them from the Atlantic.
Vanishing Cornwall, Ch.7, The Cornish Gentry, p.87/8, Virago (2007).

Being naturally curious, very nostalgic and wishing to wander where the Grenvilles once rode, hawked and hunted, my husband and I first followed Daphne's directions to Kilkhampton church only to find the oak door locked, barring our way to the Grenvilles' sculptured monuments inside. We asked a layman, who was leaving the grounds, as to the time of day we might find the church door unlocked, explaining that we would like to see where the Grenvilles lay. To my delight, he asked if we were descendants of the Grenvilles! After pleasantries, we turned coastward towards Coombe, where the Stowe Barton farmhouse stands above the site of the two Grenville homes.
As we stood on the same ground as the Grenvilles once did centuries ago, I remembered the words Daphne wrote about John, son of Bevil, regarding his building a great house over the remains of his father's dwelling, after he was created Earl of Bath and I wondered why John's house was demolished?
Sylvia Wiltshire.

Eleanor Parselle - Rebecca

'Haven't you any family?'
'No - they're dead.'
'You have a very lovely and unusual name.'
'My father was a lovely and unusual person.'
'Tell me about him,' he said.
I looked at him over my glass of citronade. It was not easy to explain my father and usually I never talked about him. He was my secret property. Preserved for me alone, much as Manderley was preserved for my neighbour. I had no wish to introduce him casually over a table in a Monte Carlo restaurant…
'I told you at the beginning of lunch you had a lovely and unusual name,' he said. 'I shall go further, if you will forgive me, and say that it becomes you as well as it became your father…'
Rebecca, Ch.4, p.25/6, Virago (2003).

Rebecca is my first Daphne du Maurier experience or is baptism perhaps a better description? Not one of fire but certainly the introduction to a memorable style of prose, full of gothic mystery not least the full name of the narrator, a detail that remains elusive throughout. By withholding the first name of the second Mrs. De Winter, the image of subservience and mysterious plotline are perpetuated. Of course I have other memories of the book especially the dress-scene where the dastardly Danvers invites a mental shriek of almost pantomime proportions, 'No, don't do it!' However, I think it's the above lines where du Maurier begins her 'name trail' that most intrigue me.
Eleanor Parselle.

Richard Kilbey - Monte Verita

They told me afterwards they had found nothing. No trace of anyone, living or dead. Maddened by anger, and I believe by fear, they had succeeded at last in breaking into those forbidden walls, dreaded and shunned through countless years - to be met by silence…

Remember, I myself saw the full moon shining upon that mountain. I also, at midday, saw the sun. What I saw and heard and felt was not of this world. I think of the rock-face, with the moon upon it; I hear the chanting from the forbidden walls; I see the crevasse, cupped like a chalice between the twin peaks of the mountain; I hear the laughter; I see the bare bronzed arms outstretched to the sun…

Sometimes, when travelling, I have fancied to myself, in coming upon a stranger, that there is something exceptional in the turn of a head, in the expression of an eye, that is at once compelling and strange. I want to speak, and hold such a person instantly in conversation, but - possibly it is my fancy - it is as though some instinct warns them. A momentary pause, a hesitation, and they are gone. It might be in a train, or in some crowded thoroughfare, and for one brief moment I am aware of someone with more than earthly beauty and human grace, and I want to stretch out my hand and say, swiftly, softly, 'Were you among those I saw on Monte Verita?' But there is never time...
The Birds and Other Stories, Monte Verita, p.40/43, Virago (2004).

Three short extracts from the opening few pages of Monte Verita, my favourite story. We all know how good Daphne was at openings, this is no exception. A subtle, yet potent invitation to curiosity draws the reader into a story nerve-tingling and spine-chilling from beginning to end. Daphne's writing is so strong here I'm amazed that this enigmatic and ethereal tale is not more widely known and regarded.
Richard Kilbey.

Monte Verita can be found in the collection of short stories The Birds and Other Stories. The collection was originally published in 1952 with the title The Apple Tree. AW.

Karen Strand-Arteaga - Rebecca

'I felt rather exhausted, and wondered, rather shocked at my callous thought, why old people were sometimes such a strain. Worse than young children or puppies because one had to be polite.'
Rebecca, Ch.15. p.206, Virago (2003).

So nice to know I'm not the only one to think this way regarding old people, children, and puppies. Karen Strand-Arteaga.

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