Daphne’s unruly passions

From The Guardian:Daphne1

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’, the opening of Rebecca, is Daphne du Maurier’s most quoted line. And from 10 May, the centenary of her birth, we should all be prepared to revisit Manderley repeatedly, as in a recurring dream. For du Maurier is about to be comprehensively celebrated. The BBC plans a double helping: a new drama, Daphne, by Amy Jenkins and a documentary by Rick Stein, The Road to Manderley. In Fowey, Cornwall, where she spent most of her writing life, there will be a Daphne du Maurier festival between 10 and 19 May that will include talks, concerts and guided walks. There will also be a literary conference in which her son, Kits Browning, will take part. Justine Picardie has chosen this moment to reconstitute du Maurier in fiction, as a detective in her thriller Daphne, and Virago is about to publish The Daphne du Maurier Companion.

Why is it that du Maurier still has such a hold? Why do so many women writers (with the exception of PD James, who voted Rebecca as ‘worst’ novel) want to write about her? After spending the past weeks submerged in the novels, I can volunteer one thing, and it is not an answer, more the beginning of a question. Du Maurier was mistress of calculated irresolution. She did not want to put her readers’ minds at rest. She wanted her riddles to persist. She wanted the novels to continue to haunt us beyond their endings. And several of them do.

According to her biographer, Margaret Forster, du Maurier used to make lists of what she hoped to achieve. ‘Number one was atmosphere.

More here. (For Sheherzad and Sara, two “Rebecca” fans I know).