Come Wind, Come Weather, Wartime Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier
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Images of UK and US first editions of Come Wind, Come Weather
Daphne du Maurier wrote many short stories. At least fifty of what we could call her mainstream short stories have been published in magazines, anthologies, and her own short story collections. In addition, there is in existence a small number of short story notes and plans, partly written short stories and a few completed ones, that have never been published. Daphne's short stories tend to be overlooked unless they are the particularly famous ones, such as The Birds and Don't Look Now, which is a great shame as some of her finest work can be found among her short story writing. The morale-boosting stories she wrote during World War II, published in newspapers across the UK and in a slim book called Come Wind Come Weather, are even more overlooked; in fact, they are almost entirely forgotten.
We stumbled upon two articles recently as we trawled through the British Newspaper Archives while working on a separate piece of du Maurier research. The first article, The Gentle Art of Apology, was published in the Liverpool Evening Express on Wednesday 1st May 1940. The second, published ten days later, was called Petrograd 1917 and published in the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald and North Western Herald on Saturday 11th May 1940. Daphne du Maurier wrote both pieces. They were examples of the short stories also published in Come Wind, Come Weather.
Of course, a little trick of Daphne du Maurier's was to give different names to the same short story. Often, magazine short stories have different titles from the same ones in her published collections of short stories. This is the case with her main short stories and these morale-boosting tales. So, when comparing the text of The Gentle Art of Apology with stories in Come Wind, Come Weather, we find that when published in book form, the title for the same story is Spitfire Megan. Similarly, Petrograd 1917 becomes London 1940.
While appearing in many local newspapers across Britain, these morale-boosting short stories were also published in several editions of Come Wind, Come Weather, available for sale in the UK, Canada, the USA, and India. The UK and Canadian publisher was William Heineman, who had published Daphne's first three novels. Doubleday published the US edition, and Allied Publishers Ltd. published the edition sold in India. The books were sold very cheaply, with the UK copies selling for sixpence. Daphne donated all her royalties from the book sales to the Soldiers', Sailors', and Airmen's Families Association.
The reason that Come Wind, Come Weather exists as a book is really because of three men, Bunny Austin, Frank Buchman and Garth Lean. Bunny lived in Hampstead with his wife Phyllis, and they were family friends of Gerald and Muriel du Maurier. Frank Buchman was the founder of the Oxford Movement, later to become known as the Moral Rearmament Movement or MRA. Early in their marriage, when Daphne and her husband Tommy were living in a cottage behind Cannon Hall, her parent's house in Hampstead, Daphne and Tommy struck up a friendship with her parent's friends and neighbours, Bunny and Phyllis Austin. At that time, Bunny was a tennis player, at the peak of his game, and immensely famous. With the potential threat of a second world war, he had become influenced by Frank Buchman's Moral Rearmament's belief that the only way to prevent the War was for every person to become unselfish and kind because then the whole course of history could be changed, and War averted.
As time passed and the threat of War became a reality, Daphne, like many young women with small children, and particularly with a husband in the military, feared a second world war and was persuaded by the value of Frank Buchman's ideals of Moral Rearmament.
When interviewed at a similar time, the famous Cornishman and writer, A L Rowse, said that the ideals of Moral Rearmament were gaining a grip in Cornwall at the same time, so Daphne may well have also been influenced by conversations about MRA when she was in Fowey.
In January 1939, Daphne travelled to Eastbourne with Bunny Austin to attend an MRA conference. By the end, she had decided that she not only wanted to support MRA, she also wanted to do something to help. At this point, Garth Lean came into the picture. He was Bunny's co-worker with MRA. He came to talk to Daphne about an idea Bunny had already suggested. The plan was that Garth would provide Daphne with information about some experiences people had undergone when they had put the principles of MRA into practice, transforming their lives. Daphne would write them up as articles, and Garth would arrange for them to be published in local newspapers throughout the country, thus spreading the word about MRA.
With the articles successfully published in numerous newspapers, Garth suggested that they also be published together in a small book. Daphne selected ten pieces to go in the book, although there were minor variations to the contents in subsequent editions.
With the material she had been given, Daphne had produced some competently written articles, which were successful in the newspapers. However, as what effectively became short stories in the book Come Wind Come Weather, the pieces did not come over as powerfully as they had in the newspapers, and also if compared to Daphne's other short stories. Having said that, the book did sell very well and succeeded in its aim of spreading the word about MRA and supporting people during the most challenging time of War by boosting morale and encouraging people to keep going.
Daphne felt she had actively contributed some work relating to the War effort, and the book sales raised funds. So, although Come Wind, Come Weather is her most overlooked piece of writing now, it did play an important role at the time.
Copies of Come Wind, Come Weather can sometimes be found in second-hand and antiquarian bookshops and online through meta bookselling sites such as https://www.addall.com/used/ or websites such as eBay. You would expect to pay about £20.00 for a copy in reasonably good condition, bearing in mind the books were published in the early 1940s and were cheaply made, so they tend to be quite fragile.
© Ann Willmore August 2023.