Fan tracks down lost stories of Daphne Du Maurier - News - Books - The Independent

Fan tracks down lost stories of Daphne Du Maurier

Newly rediscovered tales by the author of 'Rebecca' are acclaimed as 'gothic, suspenseful and macabre'

As the creator of Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier became the favourite novelist of put-upon wives worldwide. But the discovery of a short story about a male sex doll, written 10 years before, may oblige readers to re-evaluate her legacy. "The Doll" is one of 13 forgotten short stories to be published in a new anthology, also called The Doll, by Virago in May.

Described as "gothic, suspenseful and macabre", "The Doll" tells the story of a frustrated romance in which a young man discovers the girl he loves – also called Rebecca – will never accept his advances because she owns a life-size mechancial male doll. It was written in the 1920s and last published in 1937 in a compilation of rejected stories called The Editor Regrets. It is the most exciting of a series of discoveries by a Cornish bookseller and Du Maurier enthusiast, Ann Willmore, who knew of its existence but spent years trawling magazines and the internet to track it down.

The novelist and short-story writer Polly Samson has written a foreword to the collection, which she says is an important addition to Du Maurier's catalogue. "What is interesting about these stories is that you can see the embryo of the writer she would become," she said. "Many of the themes that would become apparent in her later novels can be seen here. They are a way into her preoccupations."

Ms Willmore, who runs a bookshop in Fowey, Cornwall, says the short stories deserve wider recognition: "They have a sting in the tale, and are quite sinister. They are different from her novels." Her own favourite, "The Happy Valley", makes the first mention of Happy Valley, which eight years later would appears as one of the settings in Rebecca.

The discovery of "The Doll" was a bittersweet experience for Kits Browning, Du Maurier's son, who still lives in his mother's old house in Fowey. "It's riveting, and quite ahead of its time," Mr Browning says. "I only wish it had been discovered when my mother was still alive. It's a very dark and disturbing story for someone who was 21 when she wrote it, and from the sort of background that she came from. It's all about a male sex doll. I would have loved to have teased her about it."

Du Maurier was 24 when her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931, but it was Jamaica Inn, in 1936, that brought her wider critical acclaim. Many of her book were adapted for the screen, perhaps most famously her short story The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock. Though Du Maurier's books have always been popular, they have not always been considered highly literary works. "She's a natural story-teller though," Samson says. "That's what these stories show. She is writing from a place that is not intellectual, but she has a magical ability to make you feel what the characters are feeling, without any effort. The effect of reading them is a total immersion into her mind."

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week