“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again …”
This is a novel with two heroines, though one is nameless and the other is only a memory. It’s a novel which has a hero who is a murderer. It has a haunting opening sentence which has become justly famous, and since its publication in 1938 Rebecca has enthralled readers and remained Daphne du Maurier’s most popular book.
This memorable novel is like a dream. It is contained within a framing structure, told by its narrator ten years after the events which it describes. It is deliberately vague about time and place, and this gives it a haunting and memorable quality, sustained throughout the novel after its evocative opening line. It is also a chilling tale of murder, blackmail, suspense and intrigue. It is a finely structured and highly unconventional romance.
“There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream…” ― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca when in Egypt, desperately homesick for Cornwall. She wanted to recapture the coves, the houses, the rugged coastal scenery that she loved so much. Her own obsession with her home, Menabilly, helped her create a hero obsessed with his house.
Rebecca is a Gothic novel, with all the classic Gothic elements of brooding mansion with mysterious unused wings and locked gates, a sinister housekeeper, the power of a piece of handwriting, and the act of murder. In Gothic fiction, the house is always vitally important and Manderley is a major character in this book. Like all good Gothic houses, it has secrets and hides criminal activity.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller by Margaret Forster
The Private World of Daphne Du Maurier by Martyn Shallcross
Myself When Young by Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier: Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination by Avril Horner and Sue Zlosnik
Daphne Du Maurier and her Sisters by Jane Dunn
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurierby Tatiana de Rosnay
Daphne: A Novel by Justine Picardie
FIND IN A LIBRARY (You will need to create an account and hold a library card.)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier National Library of Australia free public access to books in libraries at Trove.
A playlist of movie adaptations of Rebecca, including the 1940 movie starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, the 1979 TV miniseries starring Jeremy Brett and Joanna David, and the 1997 TV miniseries starring Charles Dance and Emilia Fox.
Let’s Pretend: The Make-believe World of Daphne du Maurier, an interview with Cliff Michelmore in 1977 at her home in Cornwall.