Remembering Collin Langley
Through the Daphne du Maurier website, we are fortunate enough to be in contact with and to meet many lovely and interesting people, all with a united love for or interest in Daphne du Maurier.
One such person who became a dear friend was Collin Langley. He was a true Daphne du Maurier aficionado. We first met on one of the many occasions that he was in Fowey attending the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature. In fact, he presented events on several occasions and presented a paper at the 2007 Daphne du Maurier Centenary Conference. He loved Fowey and continued to attend the annual Literary Festival in Fowey when it became the Fowey Festival, but his main loves were always the du Maurier-related events.
Collin contributed to the Daphne du Maurier Website Forum from 2007 onwards, often answering other people's contributions and helping to resolve questions. All early entries on the Forum, from 1999 until 2015, are archived but are still available to read in the Forum section here on the website. The current Forum is in a different format but has a wide range of subjects available for discussion and an opportunity for you to add more. You can find it here.
Collin also wrote six books about aspects of Daphne du Maurier's life, her family and her ancestry.
The titles of his books are:
A Cottage by the Sea: The Story of Ferryside (2013)
Daphne du Maurier: Her Maternal Ancestors and Cousins (2017)
Daphne du Maurier: In Kingdoms of Her Own (2017)
But the Laughter Lingers - Daphne du Maurier - A Sense of Humour Celebrated (2018)
Daphne du Maurier: Her Paternal Ancestors & The Wightwicks (2019)
Daphne du Maurier: Her Short Stores (2020)
He published these magnificent books privately and donated copies to a number of institutions so that they would be accessible to other du Maurier fans. I feel honoured to own a copy of each of Collin's books. Examples of where copies of Collin's books can be found include the Fowey Museum, Kresen Kernow and the archives at the University of Exeter.
Collin's books are fascinating. His talks were full of exciting information on areas of Daphne's life not often looked into by other researchers, such as her humour and her love of music. And his comments on the Forum helped many people. However, I think the most amazing du Maurier-related project he worked on was Favourite Lines. This was Collin's brainchild, and he worked on it with support from Daphne du Maurier's son Kits and myself.
Collin thought of the idea for Favourite Lines in 2009. He invited people to submit their favourite lines from Daphne du Maurier's writing and explain why those lines were special or significant to them. Collin worked hard to spread the word, and over the course of a year, contributions came flooding in, totalling nearly a hundred by the time we closed the project.
Contributors included members of the du Maurier Browning family; significant writers in the world of Daphne du Maurier, such as Margaret Forster, Susan Hill, Justine Picardie and Jane Dunn; people closely involved with the success of the Daphne du Maurier Festival, including Lynn Goold, Ella Westland and Helen Taylor. Contributions also came in from celebrities who had a connection with Daphne in some way, such as Alan Titchmarsh and Jan Ravens; and just as importantly, there were many contributions from people who love Daphne's work and enjoy reading her books or were regular festival goers.
It was always interesting reading people's reasons for choosing their favourite lines. Sometimes, people chose the same quote, and comparing the reasons for the choice was particularly fascinating.
Collin's Favourite Lines project was a huge success and created an outstanding and unique record. All the favourite lines and the sender's comments were entered onto the Daphne du Maurier website at the time and later archived as a complete project and put back onto the website for everyone to continue to enjoy. Favourite Lines is easy to search. Simply click on the link in the menu on the right-hand side of the website's Home Page, press Ctrl-F on your keyboard, type the title of a book or a few words from a quote in the box provided, and take it from there.
It was this project that inspired Collin to write the books that I talked about earlier. His contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Daphne du Maurier was immense and valuable.
Very sadly, Collin died in July this year after a long illness, throughout which he showed good humour and great courage. So many people will miss him, and we send our love to his dear family.
© Ann Willmore August 2023