Du Maurier's Rule Britannia in the Daily Telegraph
In his column in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 28th July, Michael Deacon discussed Daphne du Maurier's last novel, Rule Britannia.
"I've just finished reading a novel about Brexit. It was an unsettling experience. Mainly because it was published in 1972. The novel, Rule Britannia, was written by Daphne du Maurier- the author of Rebecca".
Deacon discusses the 'vivid' picture that du Maurier paints of a Britain that has left the EU and joined forces with the United States, forming the USUK alliance, and the disturbing consequences that follow.
We hope that the contemporary relevance of Rule Britannia will lead more readers to discover this fascinating and timely du Maurier novel.
Thank you to Daphne's daughter, Tessa Montgomery, for bringing this article to our attention.
Michael Deacon's comments are reproduced below.
'The author who predicted Brexit... more than 40 years in advance' by Michael Deacon
The Daily Telegraph, 28 July 2018
I’ve just finished reading a novel about Brexit. It was an unsettling experience. Mainly because it was published in 1972.
The novel, Rule Britannia, was written by Daphne du Maurier – the author of Rebecca. When Rule Britannia was published, Britain had yet even to join the European Communities, as the EU was then known. Du Maurier, though, decided to imagine a Britain of the future, in which the majority of British people have grown disillusioned with Europe – and have just voted to leave. The picture she paints is vivid. Eerily vivid.
Not long after the referendum, the country is placed in a state of emergency. In a broadcast to the nation, the prime minister confesses that the “breakdown of our partnership within the European community, and our withdrawal from it, [have] brought great economic difficulties”. Supermarkets are running out of food, prices are rising by the day, and the Government has started rationing. Unemployment is high.
Perhaps surprisingly, there are no riots or demonstrations. Then again, observes one character, the public are in no position to protest – after all, they voted for this, even though they were warned about the likely economic consequences. (“The mass of people... couldn’t very well demo without losing face.”)
In any case, plenty of voters seem convinced that the future remains bright. One character looks excitedly forward to Britain forming stronger bonds with what, in our own time, some prominent Brexiteers call the anglosphere. “It’s a wonderful thing for the English-speaking countries to get together,” he says. “America, Australia, South Africa, ourselves… You won’t get the foreigners trying to push us around now.”
In the meantime, though, du Maurier’s Britain is in dire straits. So dire, in fact, that the prime minister has no choice but to go cap in hand to the president of the US – who immediately capitalises on our vulnerability. In public the Americans claim that they’re entering into a mutually beneficial partnership with us – but in reality, they’re screwing Britain over. From now on, we’ve got to live by their rules.
Anyway: a fascinating look into du Maurier’s crystal ball. We’ll just have to hope it was faulty.
By Michael Deacon.