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Daphne Du Maurier (1907 - 1989)

English novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, and editor.

Regarded by many critics as a natural storyteller who made effective use of melodrama, du Maurier is best known for her Gothic novels and short stories. Unaffected by the literary fashions of her day, she wrote simple...

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Daphne Du Maurier (1907 - 1989)

English novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, and editor.

Regarded by many critics as a natural storyteller who made effective use of melodrama, du Maurier is best known for her Gothic novels and short stories. Unaffected by the literary fashions of her day, she wrote simple narratives that appealed to the average reader's love of adventure, fantasy, sensuality, and mystery. Perhaps best known for the Gothic novel Rebecca (1938), her writings have been extremely popular, and many have been adapted for film and television.


Du Maurier was born in London to a family whose members had been successful in arts and entertainment. Her father was a matinee idol and theater manager, and her grandfather was an artist for Punch and the author of several novels. Du Maurier was privately educated, and her youth was a swirl of yachting and skiing parties and trips abroad with wealthy friends. Her career as a novelist began on a visit to Cornwall when she was twenty. According to Margaret Forster (see Further Reading), du Maurier "was one of those writers in whom the right place releases a certain sort of psychic energy…. Cornwall, with its wild seas and rocky coastline, its mists and moors, answered some deep longing inside her." She eventually settled there, and it became the setting of some her best-known stories. Much of her time was spent in Menabilly, a manor house in Cornwall that was the inspiration for Manderley, the location of her most famous novel, Rebecca. Du Maurier's earliest published works, articles and short stories, appeared primarily in women's magazines. She published her first novel, The Loving Spirit, in 1931. That work was followed by a number of novels and several collections of short stories, the first of which, The Apple Tree: A Short Novel and Some Stories, appeared in 1952. She died in 1989 at the age of eighty-one.


In her long career as a writer du Maurier produced nineteen novels, five volumes of short stories, two plays, and other writings. According to critics, most of her fiction can be classified as either cloak-and-dagger romances or Gothic novels. Like her acknowledged master, Robert Louis Stevenson, du Maurier wrote fantasies involving pirates, smuggling, and ladies in distress. Yet du Maurier preferred to be thought of as an author of mystery and suspense. Rebecca is the story of a woman who feels a sense of competition with her husband's first wife, who died under mysterious circumstances. In the opinion of many reviewers, it is an interesting psychological study of a young woman married to an older man, as well as a gripping Gothic novel that includes murder, violence, and a mysterious, haunted mansion. In her short story "The Birds" (1959) du Maurier creates a nightmare world in which great flocks of birds inexplicably attack and kill humans. The work was made into a popular motion picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock. "Don't Look Now" (1971), a macabre tale about an English couple in Venice who receive visions of the future, has been described as compelling and suspenseful; it was adapted as a film that, in the words of Pauline Kael (see Further Reading), "is the fanciest, most carefully assembled Gothic enigma yet put on the screen."


In spite of her popularity, du Maurier has never won the full approval of the literary establishment. Many critics find her prose clear but uninteresting and deplore what they perceive as a lack of symbolism or imagery in her books. According to some, du Maurier wrote mostly on the surface, only rarely probing the psychological depths of her characters, and her plots seem conventional or contrived. Other commentators, however, have praised her works as imaginative and evocative, lauding her ability to create suspense and atmosphere. Richard Kelly (see Further Reading) described Rebecca as "the first major Gothic romance in the twentieth century and perhaps the finest written to this day." He pointed out that Rebecca includes many key components of Gothic romances, including "a mysterious and haunting mansion, violence, murder, a sinister villain, sexual passion, a spectacular fire, brooding landscapes, and a version of the madwoman in the attic." Sylvia Berkman assessed du Maurier as a "specialist in horror," noting that "her creative intelligence is resourceful, her command of eerie atmosphere persuasive and precise, her sense of shock-timing exceptionally skilled." Even du Maurier's detractors acknowledge her ability to create fantasy worlds that transport readers out of their daily existence and into places of romance and adventure.

Principal Works

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The Loving Spirit (novel) 1931
I'll Never Be Young Again (novel) 1932
The Progress of Julius (novel) 1933
Gerald: A Portrait (biography) 1934
Jamaica Inn (novel) 1936
The du Mauriers (family history and biography) 1937
Rebecca (novel) 1938
Come Wind, Come Weather (short stories) 1940
Rebecca [adaptor; from her novel] (play) 1940
Frenchman's Creek (novel) 1941
Hungry Hill (novel) 1943
The Years Between (play) 1944
The King's General (novel) 1946
September Tide (play) 1948
The Parasites (novel) 1949
My Cousin Rachel (novel) 1951
The Apple Tree: A Short Novel, and Some Stories (novella and short stories) 1952; also published as Kiss Me Again, Stranger: A Collection of Eight Stories, Long and Short, 1953; and as The Birds, and Other Stories, 1977
Mary Anne (fictionalized biography) 1954
The Scapegoat (novel) 1957
The Breaking Point (short stories) 1959; also published as The Blue Lenses, and Other Stories, 1970
Early Stories (short stories) 1959
The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë (biography) 1960
Castle d'Or [with Arthur Quiller-Couch] (novel) 1962
The Glass-Blowers (novel) 1963
The Flight of the Falcon (novel) 1965
The House on the Strand (novel) 1969
Don't Look Now (short stories) 1971; also published as Not after Midnight, 1971
Rule Britannia (novel) 1972
Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories (short stories) 1976
Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer (autobiography) 1977; also published as Growing Pains: The Shaping of a Writer, 1977
The Rendezvous, and Other Stories (short stories) 1980
Letters from Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship (letters) 1994

Primary Sources

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SOURCE: du Maurier, Daphne. "Chapter 1." In Rebecca. 1938. Reissue edition, pp. 1-4. New York: Avon Books, 1994.

The following excerpt comprises the first chapter of Rebecca, which was first published in 1938.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done, but as I advanced I was aware that a change had come upon it; it was narrow and unkept, not the drive that we had known. At first I was puzzled and did not understand, and it was only when I bent my head to avoid the low swinging branch of a tree that I realised what had happened. Nature had come into her own again and, little by, little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers. The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leant close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church. And there were other trees as well, trees that I did not recognise, squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled cheek by jowl with the beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered.

The drive was a ribbon now, a thread of its former self, with gravel surface gone, and choked with grass and moss. The trees had thrown out low branches, making an impediment to progress; the gnarled roots looked like skeleton claws. Scattered here and again amongst this jungle growth I would recognise shrubs that had been land-marks in our time, things of culture and of grace, hydrangeas whose blue heads had been famous. No hand had checked their progress, and they had gone native now, rearing to monster height without a bloom, black and ugly as the nameless parasites that grew beside them.

On and on, now east, now west, wound the poor thread that once had been our drive. Sometimes I thought it lost, but it appeared again, beneath a fallen tree perhaps or struggling on the other side of a muddied ditch created by the winter rains. I had not thought the way so long. Surely the miles had multiplied, even as the trees had done, and this path led but to a labyrinth, some choked wilderness, and not to the house at all. I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions, and I stood, my heart thumping in my breast, the strange prick of tears behind my eyes.

There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, not the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.

The terrace sloped to the lawns, and the lawns stretched to the sea, and turning I could see the sheet of silver, placid under the moon, like a lake undisturbed by wind or storm. No waves would come to ruffle this dream water, and no bulk of cloud, wind-driven from the west, obscure the clarity of this pale sky. I turned again to the house, and though it stood inviolate, untouched, as though we ourselves had left but yesterday, I saw that the garden had obeyed the jungle law, even as the woods had done. The rhododendrons stood fifty feet high, twisted and entwined with bracken, and they had entered into alien marriage with a host of nameless shrubs, poor, bastard things that clung about their roots as though conscious of their spurious origin. A lilac had mated with a copper beech, and to bind them yet more closely to one another the malevolent ivy, always an enemy to grace, had thrown her tendrils about the pair and made them prisoners. Ivy held prior place in this lost garden, the long strands crept across the lawns, and soon would encroach upon the house itself. There was another plant too, some halfbreed from the woods, whose seed had been scattered long ago beneath the trees and then forgotten, and now, marching in unison with the ivy, thrust its ugly form like a giant rhubarb towards the soft grass where the daffodils had blown.

Nettles were everywhere, the van-guard of the army. They choked the terrace, they sprawled about the paths, they leant, vulgar and lanky, against the very windows of the house. They made indifferent sentinels, for in many places their ranks had been broken by the rhubarb plant, and they lay with crumpled heads and listless stems, making a pathway for the rabbits. I left the drive and went on to the terrace, for the nettles were no barrier to me, a dreamer, I walked enchanted, and nothing held me back.

Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, even upon a dreamer's fancy. As I stood there, hushed and still, I could swear that the house was not an empty shell but lived and breathed as it had lived before.

Light came from the windows, the curtains blew softly in the night air, and there, in the library, the door would stand half open as we had left it, with my handkerchief on the table beside the bowl of autumn roses.

The room would bear witness to our presence. The little heap of library books marked ready to return, and the discarded copy of The Times. Ashtrays, with the stub of a cigarette; cushions, with the imprint of our heads upon them, lolling in the chairs; the charred embers of our log fire still smouldering against the morning. And Jasper, dear Jasper, with his soulful eyes and great, sagging jowl, would be stretched upon the floor, his tail a-thump when he heard his master's footsteps.

A cloud, hitherto unseen, came upon the moon, and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it, and the lights in the windows were extinguished. I looked upon a desolate shell, soulless at last, unhaunted, with no whisper of the past about its staring walls.

The house was a sepulchre, our fear and suffering lay buried in the ruins. There would be no resurrection. When I thought of Manderley in my waking hours I would not be bitter. I should think of it as it might have been, could I have lived there without fear. I should remember the rose-garden in summer, and the birds that sang at dawn. Tea under the chestnut tree, and the murmur of the sea coming up to us from the lawns below.

I would think of the blown lilac, and the Happy Valley. These things were permanent, they could not be dissolved. They were memories that cannot hurt. All this I resolved in my dream, while the clouds lay across the face of the moon, for like most sleepers I knew that I dreamed. In reality I lay many hundred miles away in an alien land, and would wake, before many seconds had passed, in the bare little hotel bedroom, comforting in its very lack of atmosphere. I would sigh a moment, stretch myself and turn, and opening my eyes, be bewildered at that glittering sun, that hard, clean sky, so different from the soft moonlight of my dream. The day would lie before us both, long no doubt, and uneventful, but fraught with a certain stillness, a dear tranquility we had not known before. We would not talk of Manderley, I would not tell my dream. For Manderley was ours no longer. Manderley was no more.

Kiss Me Again, Stranger

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SOURCE: Barkham, John. "The Macabre and the Unexpected." New York Times Book Review (8 March 1953): 5.

In the following review, Barkham praises du Maurier's storytelling ability in Kiss Me Again, Stranger.

In her short stories, as in her novels, Daphne du Maurier is a firm believer in keeping her readers on tenterhooks. She cannot dazzle them with her prose or excite them with her imagination, but at least she baffles them with her mysteries. And baffle them she does, over and over again in this book [Kiss Me Again, Stranger]. Guessing the identity of du Maurier murderers is still likely to remain a favorite indoor sport this spring.

These eight tales are the mixture as before. All lean to the macabre, the strange, the unexplained. None of them is bad, and several are very good indeed. No wraiths or clanking ghosts, you understand, but subtle emanations, like a dying tree that bursts ominously into bloom, or a wife who falls under the spell of the mountains. In every case Miss du Maurier painstakingly creates her atmosphere before she begins spinning her web. No fleeting moods or impressions here: the style is deliberate, the pace leisurely, and the stories hold up as stories.

One is a masterpiece of horror. Twenty years ago an Australian named Carl Stephenson wrote a superb short story, "Leningen and the Ants," in which he described a South American planter's epic struggle against a column of jungle ants. It was an adventure you could not forget. Miss du Maurier has matched it with a story in the same genre. "The Birds" is set on a peaceful English farm. Its theme? The birds of the world have suddenly and inexplicably turned predatory, and all over the earth have begun to peck, scratch and tear human beings to death. We watch the attack on the farm. Like Leningen, farmer Nat Hocken fights a hair-raising battle against the winged warriors that darken the sky.

Two of the tales are straight studies in crime. There is the elegant marquise who dallies with a young photographer and pushes him over a cliff, only to find herself trapped through a revealing portrait, a piece of very neat plotting. Better still is "The Motive," a skillful unraveling of a seemingly purposeless suicide. Here Miss du Maurier does what J. B. Priestley did so well in his "Dangerous Corner." She opens with a motiveless death, then gradually leads the reader deeper and deeper into the mystery, until at last all the jigsaw pieces fall into place. This kind of progressive revelation requires real craftsmanship.

Have you noticed how often the agent of mystery or evil in a du Maurier story is a woman? Du Maurier women have been bewitching and bewildering their simple-minded menfolk for years, and in these stories they are still at it. The girl who lures a youth into a cemetery, the marquise who kills her lover, the nagging wife who haunts by way of a tree—these are femmes fatales who toy with their men and then get them, one way or another. They also leave this reviewer with some interesting theories as to the author's artistic motivations.

In these days of shiny-knobbed science fiction, the old-fashioned story of the supernatural, which used to chill the kids and keep old men from the chimney corner, is becoming somthing of a rarity. More's the pity. Miss du Maurier can still write them in the grand tradition. Try these tales and see how they dwarf those rockets and bug-eyed monsters.


SOURCE: Berkman, Sylvia. "A Skilled Hand Weaves a Net of Horror." New York Herald Tribune Book Review 29, no. 31 (15 March 1953): 4.

In the following review of Kiss Me Again, Stranger, Berkman lauds du Maurier as a "seasoned" and "skilled" author of horror and suspense literature.

Daphne du Maurier is a specialist in horror. Her creative intelligence is resourceful, her command of eerie atmosphere persuasive and precise, her sense of shock-timing exceptionally skilled. In this collection of eight stories (of which all but two are very long) she explores horror in a variety of forms; in the macabre, in the psychologically deranged, in the supernatural, in the fantastic, most painfully of all, in the sheer cruelty of human beings in interrelationship. Yet on the whole the volume offers absorbing rather than oppressive reading because chiefly one's intellect is engaged; the emotional content remains subordinate. Broadly speaking, for the most part these are stories of detection as well, with the contributing elements of excitation, suspense, and climax manipulated with a seasoned hand.

Miss du Maurier is most successful. I believe (as most of us are) when her intentions are unmixed. Kiss Me Again, Stranger, the title story, adaptly marshals the ingredients best suited to her abilities. Here in a trim, fluently moving narrative she developed an incident in war-torn London, with no purpose beyond the immediate recounting of a sad and grisly tale. A young mechanic, a simple, sensitive, likable good chap, attracted by a pretty usherette at a cinema palace, joins her on her bus ride home, to be led, bewildered, into a cemetery, where her conduct baffles him, to say the least. The girl, so gentle, wisful, languorous, and sleepy, turns out to be psychopathically obsessed, with a vindicative animus against members of the R. A. F. The summary is unjust, for Miss du Maurier forcibly anchors her story in a strange lonely graveyard atmosphere, with night rain falling cold and dreary on the flat tombs, which both reflects and reinforces the mortal impairment of the young girl's nature and the destruction of the young man's hopes, in a charnel world dislocated by the larger horror of war.

In Kiss Me Again, Stranger, all separate aspects of the narrative fuse. "The Birds," however, essentially a far more powerful story, is marred by unresolved duality of intent. Slowly, with intensifying accurate detail, Miss du Maurier builds up her account of the massed attack of the starving winter birds on humankind, the familiar little land birds, the battalions of gulls bearing in rank upon rank from the sea, the murderous predatory birds of prey descending with ferocious beaks and talons to rip, rend, batter and kill. The struggle involved is the ancient struggle of man against the forces of nature, Robinson Crusoe's struggle to overcome an elemental adversary through cunning, logic, and wit. The turning of this material also into a political fable, with the overt references to control from Russia and aid from America, to my mind dissipates the full impact of a stark and terrifying tale.

"Monte Verità" also clothes parable in an outer aspect of realism, this time for the statement of philosophical axiom: that the residence of truth is harsh, lonely and austere, by an ascent granted only to few, but its attainment the attainment of richest beatitude, even though in the general community below the few spirits who achieve the lofty summit are persecuted through hatred and fear. Again Miss du Maurier is most successful in the establishment of other-worldly atmosphere, the creation of impressive scene, particularly of the clear symbolic peaks of Monte Verità rising pure and unadorned against the sky. Perhaps this kind of story requires a special attitude on the part of the author—E. M. Forster's confident assumption that the dryad is in the tree, if only one looks hard enough; too heavy a grounding in realistic detail can arouse realistic questioning. Here the factual narration of events, in which Anna, forsaking worldly attachments enters the citadel on the heights of Monte Verità, and the subsequent development of the two men who love her, again imposes disunity. Yet "Monte Verità" contains an abundance of integrated incident to sustain the interest; one surely wants to know the end.

Equally, each of the stories exerts that claim: one surely wants to know the end. "The Split Second," with its investigation of the intertemporal in the instant of death, represents the author at her most skillful, weaving a logical, firm, constantly tautening web of mystification and suspense. "The Little Photographer," recounting the divertissement of a bored, vain, beautiful marquise with a crippled shopkeeper, in part recalls Thomas Mann's "Little Herr Friedemann"; but Miss du Maurier has given the denouement a characteristic turn (M. Paul is not idly cast as a photographer; he had a way of snapping pictures of his lady after their dalliance in the bracken), and the story ends with a sinister good chill.

Miss du Maurier is not primarily concerned with character. Her figures are presented with swift unhesitating strokes; through them a fairly complicated history unfolds. Yet every account of human action contains its residue of human experience; and Miss du Maurier's main themes, if seriously regarded, are neither haphazard nor trivial: again and again she returns to the consideration of our human predicament, to frustration, destruction, loss, betrayal, and needless suffering, Joyce's themes of the "Dubliners," conveyed through the obverse method of a decided emphasis on plot. In general in this volume complexities of plot disinfect horror to a pungent and provocative spice.


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SOURCE: Horner, Avril, and Sue Zlosnik. "Daphne du Maurier and Gothic Signatures: Rebecca as Vamp(ire)." In Body Matters: Feminism, Textuality, Corporeality, edited and with an introduction by Avril Horner and Angela Keane, pp. 209-22. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000.

In the following essay, Horner and Zlosnik examine the Gothic and symbolic significance of du Maurier's representation of the title character in Rebecca.

Gothic fiction over the last two hundred years has given us characters such as Dracula and Frankenstein's monster who have passed into popular culture and taken on an almost mythic dimension (Day 1985: 3). Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier's most famous novel, has given us one such character. This essay will attempt to retrieve Rebecca's textual Gothic ancestry and relate it to a discussion of the destabilising nature of her absent/present body and its status as ghostly yet corporeal trace. In particular, it will explore the significance of signature as bodily trace in relation to the writing identities of both Rebecca and her creator, Daphne du Maurier.

In what is still probably the most memorable representation of Rebecca (published in 1938), Hitchock's film (made in 1940) retains the novel's Gothic emphasis. However, Alison Light's influential reading of the novel has resulted in an argument centred on the class dynamics of the text; this sees the narrator's bourgeois feminine subjectivity as both inflected and threatened by that of a wayward, aristocratic Rebecca who enjoys a freedom of self-expression and lifestyle denied the timid second wife of Maxim de Winter (Light 1984). Whilst providing some invaluable insights, this reading has necessitated a fairly free, and sometimes inaccurate, portrayal of the social class of both Rebecca and her creator.1 In fact, Rebecca's social class is not entirely clear from the novel. Indeed, Michelle A. Massé, in speculating that Rebecca was married for her money, opens up the possibility that her marriage to Maximilian de Winter combined his aristocratic status with her nouveau riche wealth and was thus a marriage of expediency for both parties (as she points out, 'Manderley's splendor is very recent' (Massé 1992: 181)). Nor is it accurate to describe du Maurier herself as 'aristocratic': her father's title came with a knighthood earned in 1922 and her own title of 'Lady Browning' derived from her marriage to Major 'Boy' Browning. Moreover, such an approach tends to shift du Maurier's novel out of the Gothic paradigm: for example, relating the writing of Rebecca to the rise of the love-story during the inter-war period, Light describes the novel as 'a thriller or murder story … as well as a love-story' (Light 1991: 163). A subsidiary effect of such categorisations has been to define Rebecca as a vamp or a femme fatale; indeed Light refers to du Maurier as finding 'her scarlet woman irresistible' (Light 1991: 157).

Yet the term 'femme fatale' is not simply a sign of aristocratic femininity; there are racial and gendered positions embedded in the term which are brought to light when we examine the close but distinct etymological and cultural relationship between the words 'femme fatale', 'vamp' and 'vampire'. The first phrase, imported from the French in 1912, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, linguistically 'otherises' a particular type of woman as a source of threat. The femme fatale has, of course, a long cultural history which goes back to Jezebel, Salome and Cleopatra, but she does not become prominent in art and literature until the late nineteenth century when she emerges, according to Mary Ann Doane, as a response to an industrialised and rapidly changing society in which women were resisting Victorian models of femininity (Doane 1991: 1-2). She is associated, according to Doane, with distinct characteristics. She is never really what she seems to be; her rather morbid sexuality connects her beauty with barrenness, lack of production, death and obliteration; because her power situates the femme fatale as evil, she is invariably punished or killed (often by a man); finally, she is often associated with a sexually ambiguous identity, in so far as she is frequently linked with androgyny, bisexuality and/or lesbianism. Rebecca manifests all of these characteristics. She is not what she seems to be: the outward conformity of the sophisticated chatelaine figure, adored by the Cornish community, hides a secret self who behaves differently in London and within the privacy of her boat house. Her beauty is certainly associated with barrenness and death. She is indeed perceived as evil by Maxim and is punished accordingly by him. Finally, her sexual identity is ambiguous; the text makes it clear that she has committed adultery but also hints that she and Mrs Danvers have been lesbian lovers. More broadly, she destabilises current notions of gender: seen through Mrs Danvers's eyes, Rebecca signifies both femininity and masculinity. On the one hand, the housekeeper emphasises her beauty, sensuality and femininity by endowing her fine clothes with a metonymic significance. On the other hand, she stresses Rebecca's power and masculinity: what she loved in Rebecca, it seems, was her strength, her courage and her 'spirit', which she associates with masculinity: 'She ought to have been a boy, I often told her that' (du Maurier [1938] 1992: 253). At the level of plot, then, Rebecca is presented, it would seem, as a classic femme fatale figure.

The discourses of film and literature invariably use the phrase 'femme fatale' interchangeably with the word 'vamp'.2 Yet 'vamp' is defined by the OED as a Jezebel figure who is deliberately destructive, whereas the femme fatale is often perceived as having 'power despite herself' (Doane 1991: 2). A few critics, however, do perceive this distinction. Pierre Leprohon, for example, in his book The Italian Cinema, suggests that the femme fatale and the vamp are quite different, the latter being connected with a conscious desire to destroy: she is, he argues, 'deliberately devastating, the woman who lives off her victims' misfortunes, a kind of vampire'. In contrast, 'the fate of the femme fatale is often as dreadful as that of her lovers, and this makes her even more appealing' (cited in Doane 1991: 127). Interestingly, the OED suggests that the word 'vamp' (first used in this sense in 1918 and quite distinct from to 'vamp' on a piano, which has a different etymology) does indeed derive from the word 'vampire'. This slippage between the words 'vampire' and 'vamp' is attributed by several critics to a fin-de-siècle anxiety concerning the shifting status of women. For example, Bram Dijkstra has noted that '[b]y 1900 the vampire had come to represent woman as the personification of everything negative that linked sex, ownership, and money' (Dijkstra 1986: 351); according to Alexandra Warwick, the changing representation of the female vampire in late nineteenth-century texts reflected a growing anxiety about the 'masculinisation' of women in their transition from angels of the hearth to 'wandering' New Women (Warwick 1995: 202-20).3 The actual threats embodied in real women, then, resulted in the female vampire being culturally transmuted into the vamp; by the early twentieth century the sinister polyvalency of the former had become translated into the sexual threat of the latter.

The corporeal code of the vamp is, of course, immediately recognisable: invariably her direct gaze emanates from a slender, nubile body; she usually has dark hair, either in abundance or cut very short, so that it sits like a cap on her head; above all, her presence is strongly erotic. Lulu, in G.W. Pabst's famous 1929 film Pandora's Box, played by Louise Brooks, was portrayed in just such a way. Du Maurier's Rebecca, when she is made visible in film or television adaptations, is often rendered as the classic vamp.4 We are not claiming that this is a misrepresentation: du Maurier's famous novel, set in the mid-twenties according to its author (du Maurier [1981] 1993: 10), certainly draws on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century constructions of the independent and sexually active woman as vamp. Yet the corporeal charisma so important in portrayals of the 'vamp' is communicated in the novel only through traces of Rebecca's body and the things connected with her: her scent, her clothes, the rhododendrons, her signature, her script. In du Maurier's text, it is, paradoxically, the very absence of Rebecca that is used to denote so powerfully the presence of adult female sexuality. Rebecca, then, is ghost as well as vamp. Du Maurier's work is, after all, a Gothic novel, not a film noir; the threatening woman is 'otherised' not only through physical difference, but also through the supernatural. Not surprisingly, then, we find du Maurier subtly drawing on the vampiric tradition in her creation of Rebecca and this, we suggest, contributes much to the evocation of the uncanny in the novel. However, we shall argue that the cultural slippages between the terms 'vamp', 'vampire' and 'femme fatale' are reflected not only in the unstable status of Rebecca's body but also by Maurier's construction of a writing persona which, in flight from the feminine and the corporeal, embraces the masculine and the disembodied.

Like those of the vampiric body, the status and whereabouts of Rebecca's corpse are problematic. When her boat is raised and a body is found in it, doubt is cast upon the identity of the body in the crypt. Rebecca's body—to use Tania Modleski's words—'becomes the site of a bizarre fort/da game'5 (Modleski 1988: 49). What Anne Williams describes as 'that intensely Gothic phenomenon, the sight of a worm-eaten corpse' (Williams 1995: 73), is denied the reader: instead, various characters present us with vivid but different narratives of watery disintegration. So Rebecca's corpse is 'absent' for much of the novel yet remains insistently and disturbingly present in the imaginations of these characters—just as her absent body remains insistently 'alive' for the narrator, whose continual association of Rebecca with the bloodred rhododendrons and headily scented azaleas of the Manderley estate evokes a charismatic female sexual presence for both herself and the reader. Yet the narrator's final thoughts on Rebecca's body link it not with water, but with dust:

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. It seemed to me that Rebecca had no reality any more. She had crumbled away when they had found her on the cabin floor. It was not Rebecca who was lying in the crypt, it was dust. Only dust.

                      (du Maurier [1938] 1992: 334)

Thus Rebecca's 'second' burial (which seeks literally to encrypt her ungovernable force) is associated with the end of Dracula, whose body crumbles to dust at the moment of death: 'It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight' (Stoker [1897] 1993: 484). The apparent finality of Rebecca's burial, however, is undercut by an earlier incident in which the narrator thought she had 'finally' destroyed Rebecca's writing (the inscription in the book of poems), only to find it resurfacing again and again at Manderley. The 'dust' that is Rebecca's body is no more final than the 'feathers of dust' of the burned fly-leaf or the ash scattered by the 'salt wind' of the novel's final line. Like the vampire, Rebecca seems able to reconstitute herself endlessly and, like the vampire, her corporeal status is unstable: she is neither visibly a body nor visibly a corpse.

Rebecca is also associated throughout the novel with several characteristics which, according to Ernest Jones, traditionally denote the vampiric body: facial pallor, plentiful hair and voracious sexual appetite (Jones [1991] 1992: 409). And like the vampire, she has to be 'killed' more than once: the plot's excessive, triple killing of Rebecca (she was shot; she had cancer; she drowned) echoes the folk belief that vampires must be 'killed' three times. Although Rebecca lacks the requisite fangs and only metaphorically sucks men dry, she can none the less be placed within Christopher Frayling's second category of vampires, that of the Fatal Woman who, according to Frayling, 'altered the whole direction of the vampire tale' from the mid-nineteenth century onwards: 'sexually aware, and sexually dominant … attractive and repellent at the same time', she is clearly symptomatic of a cultural anxiety concerning adult female sexuality (Frayling [1991] 1992: 68, 71-2). Seen in this light, Rebecca's literary lineage includes Prosper Mérimée's Carmen, Poe's Berenice, Gauthier's Clarimonde and Le Fanu's Countess Carmilla—not forgetting, of course, Charlotte Brontë's Bertha Mason, described in Chapter 25 of Jane Eyre as 'the foul German spectre—the Vampyre'. Rebecca may, then, be read not only as vamp but also as vampire: she is a clear descendant of the female demon lover who transmuted into the female vampire in mid- to late Victorian Gothic texts and into the vamp in twentieth-century cinema.

Like all vampire figures, Rebecca is associated with a transgressive, polymorphous sexuality. She is also, like all vampire figures, a figure of abjection. Recent critics of the Gothic have used Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection ([1980] 1982) to explore how representations of the abject in certain texts relate to certain discourses and cultural values at a particular historical moment.6 Kristeva's concept of the abject thereby becomes a concept which enables them to define how shared constructions of 'otherness' are predicated upon shared cultural values at specific times: by this logic, you may know a culture by what it 'throws off' or 'abjects'. But the figure of abjection in a Gothic text may, of course, be presented as simultaneously repellent and charismatic, thus allowing the reader to indulge in a transgressive redefinition of 'self'. This 'other' is also invariably the focus of more than one cultural anxiety and may therefore act as a vehicle of abjection in several ways. It is not surprising, then, to find that the sexual threat represented by Rebecca as 'vamp' is further inflected by the text's association of her with vampirism and 'Jewishness'. Rebecca was supposedly based on Jan Ricardo who was engaged to Major 'Boy' Browning before his marriage to du Maurier; she was a 'dark-haired, rather exotic young woman, beautiful but highly-strung', according to Margaret Forster (Forster 1993: 91). However, du Maurier's presentation of Maxim's first wife as a dangerous and beautiful dark-haired woman with an Hebraic name might well have been unconsciously influenced by the air of anti-semitisim prevalent in Europe during the 1930s. In this context, it is perhaps worth nothing that David Selznick, the producer of Hitchcock's film version of Rebecca, is reputed to have had misgivings about the film's title, commenting that it would not do 'unless it was made for the Palestine market' (Shallcross [1991] 1993: 69-70). As both Ken Gelder and Judith Halberstam have noted, the nineteenth-century vampire was often portrayed as having Jewish characteristics—the physical appearance, the often perverse desires and the unrooted, wandering nature of 'the Jew' (as then constructed) all being projected onto the vampire (Gelder 1994: 13-17; Halberstam 1995a: 86-106). Indeed, Judith Halberstam argues that 'the nineteenth-century discourse of anti-Semitism and the myth of the vampire share a kind of Gothic economy in their ability to condense many monstrous traits into one body' (Halberstam 1995a: 88). Many anxieties are written on the body of Rebecca, including that of the woman author whose social identity is transgressively inflected by her writing identity.

For it is Rebecca's signature and handwriting which constitute the metonymic representation of her body throughout the text, indelibly inscribing her presence. Certainly the semiotic of her script complicates our perception of her function in the novel. On the one hand, her writing—as we see it, for example, in the loving dedication to 'Max' and in the contents of the morning-room desk—is proof of her ability, during her life, to play an allotted role within the realm of 'everyday legality' and to masquerade effectively as a country-house hostess. Rebecca's writing initially appears to tell the tale of an ideal wife, loving towards her husband and the perfect hostess for his elegant country mansion. However, the script itself, which continually irrupts into the text, tells a different story, since it is also associated with a masculine strength and an indelible authority; as such it indicates a wayward, wilful quality that runs counter to Maxim's idea of the good wife. Moreover, it is sharply differentiated from that of the narrator who describes her own handwriting as 'cramped and unformed' (du Maurier [1938] 1992: 93) with all the intimations of immaturity and social inhibition that this suggests. This narrator connects Rebecca's 'curious', 'sloping' or 'slanting' script with a vibrant vitality: 'How alive her writing though, how full of force' (62). Always Rebecca's handwriting suggests supreme confidence and knowledge. In particular, the capital letter 'R', embroidered on the handkerchief the narrator finds in Rebecca's mackintosh and on Rebecca's nightdress case, takes on a runic force which derives from its powerful visual impact and its refusal to be destroyed. In this novel Rebecca surfaces most clearly through her signature, which uncannily inscribes the body's presence despite its absence through death. Above all, it is her autonomous energy, implicit in Rebecca's handwriting, which impresses itself on both the narrator and the reader. Thus, there is a duality in Rebecca's script, which seems to tell one story but which gives the lie to it in the actual appearance of the writing itself. The activity of writing is thereby seen to be implicated in the production of sexual subjectivity.

Yet, despite her accentuated difference from Rebecca, it is the timid and nameless young second wife who has been transformed into the older, wiser narrator of Rebecca's story. She has become empowered to do this, however, only by modifying her perception of Rebecca as 'other' and assimilating her autonomy. Her initial attempts to exorcise Rebecca's presence, through, for example, burning the fly-leaf in Maxim's book which contains her signature, are doomed to failure. Instead, what we see in the novel is a gradual identification between the narrator and Rebecca, quite literally enacted in the Manderley Ball scene when the narrator's appearance as Maxim's ancestress, Caroline de Winter, seems to raise Rebecca from the dead (even Maxim's sister, sensible Beatrice, says 'You stood there on the stairs, and for one ghastly moment I thought …' (225). Indeed, we learn at the beginning of the novel that the (now older) narrator has finally acquired the confidence for which she envied Rebecca as a young woman: 'and confidence is a quality I prize, although it has come to me a little late in the day' (13). The conclusion must be that only with Rebecca 'really' dead can she write Rebecca's story, although it is only through Rebecca that she can write. Significantly, then, in the final dream of a novel haunted by disturbing dreams the narrator finds herself writing as Rebecca:

I was writing letters in the morning-room. I was sending out invitations. I wrote them all myself with a thick black pen. But when I looked down to see what I had written it was not my small square handwriting at all, it was long, and slanting, with curious pointed strokes. I pushed the cards away from the blotter and hid them. I got up and went to the looking-glass. A face stared back at me that was not my own. It was very pale, very lovely, framed in a cloud of dark hair. The eyes narrowed and smiled. The lips parted. The face in the glass stared back at me and laughed. And I saw then that she was sitting on a chair before the dressing-table in her bedroom and Maxim was brushing her hair. He held her hair in his hands, and as he brushed it he wound it slowly into a thick rope. It twisted like a snake, and he took hold of it with both hands and smiled at Rebecca and put it round his neck.

'No', I screamed. 'No. no …'.


Whereas the firing of Manderley reminds us of the burning of Thornfield and of a work which finally eliminates the 'other' woman, this dream perpetuates the psychic disruption which Rebecca signifies. Although the narrator harbours a distrust and fear of Rebecca's sexuality, communicated by the snake image,7 the dream also reveals her unconscious identification with it. For much of the novel she has consciously wished to be the model wife and hostess she believed Rebecca to have been; yet the mirror image of the dream signals a further desire for identification with Rebecca's sexual and textual charisma.

This is because Rebecca, despite—or because of—her corporeal absence, embodies a dynamic multivalent alterity for the nameless narrator: she is adulteress, lesbian, bisexual, vampire, Jew. The fact that Rebecca's body shows traces of both Jewishness and vampirism indicates the essentially Gothic quality of the novel; for in the Gothic text perverse sexuality, as Judith Halberstam (citing Sander Gilman) notes, is inevitably 'ascribed to the sexuality of the Other' (Halberstam 1995: 68). In assimilating both psychological and corporeal aspects of Rebecca, the narrator implicitly rejects the social categorisations which separate the 'bad' from the 'good' woman. Furthermore, in absorbing the 'disembodied spirit' of Maxim's first wife, the narrator comes to embody aspects of Rebecca's power and self-confidence. Above all, she writes, and with the maturity and adult sexual identity implied by Rebecca's 'bold, slanting hand' rather than with the childish ingenuousness of her former self. Her signature and her text are thus haunted by that of another.

However, that phrase we have just used, 'disembodied spirit', is taken not from the novel, but from letters written by du Maurier in the 1940s. Here we wish to link the issue of Rebecca's signature and corporeal identity within the text with that of du Maurier as author of the text. As Margaret Forster's biography has revealed, Daphne du Maurier seemed to follow the lifestyle expected of women of her class, yet such conformity hid several unconventional relationships and a complex and conflicted sense of identity (Forster 1993). Furthermore, in spite of living an apparently happy life as wife, mother and successful novelist, du Maurier experienced a great deal of anxiety and ambivalence concerning her identity as a woman writer. For much of the time she felt that part of herself was a 'disembodied spirit', a phrase she uses in two separate letters to Ellen Doubleday, wife of her American publisher, Nelson Doubleday. She uses it first in a letter dated December 1947, which is written in a parodic fairy-tale manner, to describe what we would now call a sense of split subjectivity:

And then the boy realised he had to grow up and not be a boy any longer, so he turned into a girl, and not an unattractive one at that, and the boy was locked in a box forever. D. du M. wrote her books, and had young men, and later a husband, and children, and a lover, and life was sometimes lovely and sometimes rather sad, but when she found Menabilly and lived in it alone, she opened up the box sometimes and let the phantom, who was neither girl nor boy but disembodied spirit, dance in the evening when there was no one to see.

                            (Forster 1993: 222)

In a letter written to Ellen almost a year later in September 1948, reflecting on her husband's reliance on her money-earning capacity as a best-selling novelist, she uses the phrase in a slightly different way:

I mean, really, women should not have careers. It's people like me who have careers who really have bitched up the old relationship between men and women. Women ought to be soft and gentle and dependent. Disembodied spirits like myself are all wrong.

                            (Forster 1993: 235)

In the first letter, she describes a masculine dimension of her being which, while 'locked' away, undergoes a metamorphosis into the 'disembodied spirit' which is androgynous and suggestive (to her) of a more authentic 'self'. Such a creative spirit, associated as it is in this letter with her life at Menabilly, is intrinsic to her life as a writer. However, the second letter suggests that while acknowledging her career as that of author, she felt ill at ease as a successful woman writer in the wider world; this is confirmed by another letter to Ellen Doubleday written in October 1948, in which she confesses to seeing her work as having given her a 'masculine approach to life' (Forster 1993: 232). Later, having become intrigued by the work of Jung and Adler during the winter of 1954, she explains her 'disembodied' self by reference to Jung's vocabulary of duality and identifies her writing persona as having sprung from a repressed 'No. 2' masculine side. In a letter to her seventeen-year-old daughter in the same year she explains, 'When I get madly boyish No. 2 is in charge, and then, after a bit, the situation is reversed … No. 2 can come to the surface and be helpful … he certainly has a lot to do with my writing' (Forster 1993: 276). Thus du Maurier came to perceive her writing identity as masculine. While such a 'disembodied spirit' was containable, while it could be put back in the box, it could do no harm; when, however, du Maurier perceived it as taking over—when she referred to herself as the 'disembodied spirit'—then she believed it to be socially destructive. Arguably, it was this anxiety concerning the 'Other' contained within the 'self' which gave Jung's work particular resonance for her. Du Maurier's creation of Rebecca as the narrator's transgressive double can also be seen, then, as a manifestation of an anxiety concerning writing, identity and gender.8

Interestingly, Forster's biography and Oriel Malet's Letters from Menabilly (1993) provide evidence that in letters to friends du Maurier identified, at different points in her life, with both Rebecca and the narrator. For example, in a letter to Maureen Baker-Munton, written in 1957, du Maurier comments: 'I wrote as the second Mrs. de W. twenty-one years ago, with Rebecca a symbol of Jan. It could also be that … I—in Moper's dark mind—can be the symbol of Rebecca. The cottage on the beach could be my hut. Rebecca's lovers could be my books' (Forster 1993: 424). In these letters quoted by Forster, the narrator tends to be linked with du Maurier's social, 'feminine' identity and Rebecca with her creative writing persona, that 'No. 2' masculine 'self'. As we have estab-lished, this sense of the writing self as masculine 'Other' can be seen in the inscription of Rebecca's 'masculine' energy through 'those curious, sloping letters' that continually surface in du Maurier's most famous novel, a text in which the transgressions of the 'Other' are both written on the body and embodied in the writing process itself. Du Maurier's letters suggest that, as she grew older, she moved towards seeing identity as something multiform and fissured, rather than unitary and coherent. Arguably, the writing process itself provided du Maurier with a way of manipulating such multiplicity and of harnessing the potentially destructive aspect of the 'Other'—as it does for the narrator of Rebecca. Rebecca's death within the plot suggests the containment of transgressive desire but her 'disembodied spirit', with all its divergent energies, continues to inform the writing process. We suggest, then, that Rebecca's power to haunt the modern imagination has much to do with her textual and culture lineage. In creating her, du Maurier drew both on the Gothic tradition and on a broad cultural anxiety concerning the changing status of women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For du Maurier, that anxiety was further inflected by the association of the writing woman with a transgressive female identity and this, too, finds expression in her most famous novel. Such anxieties manifest themselves in the way Rebecca's character dissolves some important boundary lines. Neither visibly a body nor visibly a corpse, she upsets the line between life and death; between eros and thanatos; between absence and presence; and between the two stereotypes—that of the asexual virgin-mother and that of the prostitute-vamp—which Andreas Huyssen sees as sustaining 'the myth of the dualistic nature of woman' (Huyssen 1986: 73). Rebecca also disrupts the dividing lines which separate the femme fatale from the vamp and the vamp from the female vampire.

This instability of meaning is emphasised by the Gothic nature of Rebecca's body. In addition, the suspended 'R' of her name and the quasi-illegible 'M' in her engagement diary, by constituting a semiotic of fragmentation and incompleteness within the text, indicate metonymically the mysterious uncertainty of her absence/presence. The materiality of Rebecca's signature further signals an anxiety concerning the relation between writing, autonomy and sexual identity. This can be seen as a textual trace of du Maurier's own anxiety about the relation between the 'sexed' body and the cultural construction of authorial identity as 'masculine'. There are, as Elizabeth Grosz has noted:

ways in which the sexuality and corporeality of the subject leave their traces or marks on the texts produced … The signature not only signs the text by a mark of authorial propriety, but also signs the subject as the product of writing itself, of textuality.

                                    (Grosz 1995: 23)

Just as du Maurier's use of the phrase 'disembodied spirit' in her letters indicates a bodily unease in occupying the authorial position, so Rebecca's uneasy status as both too fleshly (vamp) and too uncanny (vampire) reflects a cultural ambivalence towards the sexually expressive and autonomous woman. Such anxieties are condensed in the way that Rebecca's signature haunts the text; in this sense, writing itself is Gothic.


1. Even more recent essays on Rebecca continue to be heavily infuenced by Light's approach. See, for example, Janet Harbord 1996.

2. See, for example, Linda Ruth Williams's use of the terms as interchangeable (Williams 1993: 53, 56).

3. In this connection, see also Rebecca Stott 1992, especially Chapter 3 on Dracula.

4. The Carleton Television adaptation of the novel, shown in January 1997, portrayed Rebecca in this way, for example.

5. Modleski uses this phrase to describe the manner in which representations are played out on the narrator's body, but it is just as appropriate to describe the absence/presence of Rebecca's (dead) body.

6. For example, Gelder 1994 and Halberstam 1995 relate Gothic presentations of the abject to cultural constructions of 'Jewishness' in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, whilst Warwick 1995 explores it in relation to the changing status of women during that period. See also Jerrold E. Hogle (1996) for an example of how textual representations of the abject reflect anxiety concerning changing class structures in early twentieth-century France.

7. The snake image is often associated with female vampires as in, for instance, Tieck's Wake Not the Dead, Coleridge's Christabel, Baudelaire's Les Métamorphoses du Vampire and (obliquely) Keats's Lamia.

8. For a fuller exploration of the connection between writing, identity, gender and du Maurier's use of the Gothic genre, see Avril Horner and Sue Zlosnik 1998.


Day, W. P. (1985) In the Circles of Fear and Desire: A Study of Gothic Fantasy, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press.

Dijkstra, B. (1986) Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin de Siècle Culture, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Doane, M. A. (1991) Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, New York and London, Routledge.

du Maurier, D. ([1938] 1992) Rebecca, London, Arrow.

――――――. ([1981] 1993) The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, London, Arrow.

Forster, M. (1993) Daphne du Maurier, London, Chatto and Windus.

Frayling, C. ([1991] 1992) Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula, London, Faber and Faber.

Gelder, K. (1994) Reading the Vampire, London and New York, Routledge.

Grosz, E. (1995) Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies, New York and London, Routledge.

Halberstam, J. (1995) Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters, Durham and London, Durham University Press.

Harbord, J. (1996) 'Between Identification and Desire: Rereading Rebecca', Feminist Review, 53, 95-106.

Hogle, J. E. (1996) 'The Gothic and the "Otherings" of Ascendant Culture: The Original Phantom of the Opera', South Atlantic Quarterly, 95 (3), 821-46.

Horner, A. and S. Zlosnik (1998) Daphne du Maurier: Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination, London, Macmillan.

Huyssen, A. (1986) After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press.

Jones, E. ([1991] 1992) 'On the Vampire', in C. Frayling, Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula, London, Faber and Faber.

Kristeva, J. ([1980] 1982) Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon Roudiez, New York, Columbia University Press.

Ledger, S. and S. McCracken, (eds) (1995) Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Light, A. (1984) '"Returning to Manderley": Romance Fiction, Female Sexuality and Class', Feminist Review, 16.

――――――(1991) Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars, London and New York, Routledge.

Malet, O. (ed.) (1993) Daphne du Maurier: Letters from Menabilly, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Massé, M. A. (1992) In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism, and the Gothic, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press.

Modleski, T. (1988) The Women Who Knew too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory, London and New York, Routledge.

Shallcross, M. ([1991] 1993) The Private World of Daphne du Maurier, London, Robson Books.

Stoker, B. ([1897] 1993) Dracula, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Stott, R. (1992) The Fabrication of the Late Victorian Femme Fatale: The Kiss of Death, London, Macmillan.

Warwick, A. (1995) 'Vampires and the Empire: Fears and Fictions of the 1890s', in S. Ledger and S. McCracken (eds), Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Williams, A. (1995) Art of Darkness: A Poetics of the Gothic, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press.

Williams, L. R. (1993) Sex in the Head: Visions of Femininity and Film in D.H. Lawrence, Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Further Reading

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Auerbach, Nina. Daphne du Maurier: Haunted Heiress. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000, 180 p.

Biography of du Maurier that also focuses on her lesserknown writings, which Auerbach contends are du Maurier's most compelling.

Forster, Margaret. Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Detailed account of du Maurier's life and career, including critical analysis and biographical interpretation of her works.


Bakerman, Jane S. "Daphne du Maurier." In And Then There Were Nine … More Women of Mystery, edited by Jane S. Bakerman, pp. 12-29. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1985.

Discusses six of du Maurier's novels, including Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, as accomplished examples of romantic suspense fiction.

Butterly Nigro, Kathleen. "Rebecca as Desdemona: 'A Maid that Paragons Description and Wild Fame.'" College Literature 27, no. 3 (fall 2000): 144-57.

Compares du Maurier's Rebecca to William Shakespeare's play Othello as a means of reexamining the character of Rebecca.

Horner, Avril, and Sue Zlosnik. "The Secrets of Manderley: Rebecca." In Daphne du Maurier: Writing, Identity, and the Gothic Imagination, pp. 99-127. New York: Twayne, 1998.

Examines Rebecca as a complex, layered study of female identity.

――――――. "Deaths in Venice: Daphne du Maurier's 'Don't Look Now.'" In Spectral Readings: Towards a Gothic Geography, edited by Glennis Byron and David Punter, pp. 219-32. London and New York: Macmillan, 1999.

Asserts that in the story "Don't Look Now," du Maurier used Gothic conventions to explore issues of identity, particularly gender identity.

Kael, Pauline. "Labyrinths." New Yorker 49 (24 December 1973): 68, 71.

Favorable review of Don't Look Now, the film based on du Maurier's short story.

Kelly, Richard. Daphne du Maurier. New York: Twayne, 1987.

Book-length survey of du Maurier's works.

Shallcross, Martyn. "Sinister Stories." In The Private World of Daphne du Maurier, pp. 144-55. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Discusses the film adaptations of two of du Maurier's most famous short stories, "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now."

Smith, Harrison. "The Anatomy of Terror." The Saturday Review (14 March 1953): 29, 52.

Review of Kiss Me Again, Stranger, in which Smith asserts that du Maurier "has the gift of making believable the unbelievable."

Wisker, Gina. "Don't Look Now! The Compulsions and Revelations of Daphne du Maurier's Horror Writing." Journal of Gender Studies 8, no. 1 (March 1999): 19-33.

Focuses on du Maurier's horror writings, examining their relationship to traditional Gothic literature and their exploration of gender identity and power.


Additional coverage of du Maurier's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 37; Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Biography and Resources, Vol. 1; British Writers Supplement, Vol. 3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8R, 128; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 6, 55; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 6, 11, 59; Contemporary Popular Writers; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 191; DISCovering Authors: British; DISCovering Authors: Canadian; DISCovering Authors Modules: Most-studied Authors and Popular Fiction and Genre Authors; DISCovering Authors 3.0; Literature and Its Times, Vol. 3; Literature Resource Center; Major 20th-Century Writers, Eds. 1, 2; Mystery and Suspense Writers; Novels for Students, Vol. 12; Reference Guide to English Literature, Ed. 2; Reference Guide to Short Fiction, Ed. 2; St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, Vol. 4; St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers; Short Stories for Students, Vols. 14, 16; Short Story Criticism, Vol. 18; Something about the Author, Vols. 27, 60; Twayne's English Authors; and Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers.

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