Rebecca by Daphine du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Gollancz, 1938; Virago (present publisher).

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier’s best known novel, has never been out of print in 82 years. It’s generated sequels, retellings, films, tv series, an internationally staged musical, fanfiction, and a system of codes used by a Nazi spy. Some are better than others – but they keep coming.

Only one character in the novel – the villain – is openly lesbian. But to those in the know, the novel was probably always part of queer culture.

Book cover: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Penguin paperback edition) 1962
Penguin paperback edition, 1962

It’s a novel of two women who fight for a beautiful, ancient house. The male character, Maxim, wears the trappings of a gothic hero. But the story is about the power of Manderley and the war between the female characters: the 21 year old second wife and the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who claims the house for the dead first wife, Rebecca.

The story works on many levels and there is something in it for everyone. But gradually the queer content has emerged and, if anything, increased the novel’s appeal.

After du Maurier’s death in 1989, biographies revealed her bisexuality. She saw her creative side as ‘the boy in the box’. He escaped in fantasy and sometimes, in reality. Married with children, she quietly had affairs with women.

Meanwhile, the book, once viewed as a superficial gothic romance, is now seen as a classic – a brilliantly plotted mystery whose characters, like Rebecca herself, have survived – and deepened – long after their time.

This is a summary of a much longer blog which is in preparation on a queer insight du Maurier and Rebecca. One more book in the Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive.

Create your own queer LGBT+ digital books library

You’ve got your own collection of queer LGBT+ books at home, right? We are encouraging you to create your own queer LGBT+ digital books library and then share it with us. Our long term aim is to create a digital archive of queer LGBT+ out of print and hard to find books which will be interactive and accessible on our website.

Here are a few simple steps to set you on your way.

Logo: Libib graphic square
  • Sign up at libib.com
  • Download the Libib app onto your phone or tablet or use the web version on your desktop
  • Start by naming your own digital books library
  • Add all your queer LGBT+ titles using either your phone to scan their barcodes or enter the details yourself
  • Include a description and tag them, eg, queer fiction, lesbian history, trans politics.

Have a look at our Libib page on our website for more detail and for a simple presentation you can download to keep.