Monday, 25 October 2010

Literary Landscapes: Daphne du Maurier's Manderley

I wanted to do a quick update and I thought a Literary Landscapes post was the best way to do it. These two houses were Daphne du Mauriere's inspiration for Manderley, the ancestral stately home of the de Winters in Rebecca. In my humble opinion (I read the book for the first time a few weeks ago), Manderley is pretty much one of the novel's most vital ingredients. It's bigger than everyone else in the book, and they almost exist simply to keep it going. Maxim is driven back there despite all logic, purely because he can't really imagine being anywhere else. The protagagonist measures her level of success as a wife against her level of  control of Manderley: Mrs Danvers does almost the same thing: she uses her level of control to measure how successfully she is upholding Rebecca's memory - because Rebecca, really, becomes and  is Manderley. The finale shows who wins.

The house above is Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire and the one below is Menabilly, du Maurier's own home in Cornwall which she rented from the Rashleigh family. They both helped inspire du Maurier's masterpiece; although Milton Hall in particular seems to have a special link with terrifying, horrible women: Margaret Thatcher dined there.


Frances Garrood said...

I always imagined Manderley to be a bit smaller, but dark, gothic, mysterious, and probably rather ugly.

I was obviously wrong!

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