Letters from Daphne du Maurier to Ivan Magee and Registrar

Scope and Content

This set of letters was written to a 'fan', Ivan Magee, in the 1960s, in response to questions concerning 'Rebecca'. The content includes information on various aspects of the novel 'Rebecca', from setting to characterisation including the house and grounds which she noted was taken from Menabilly (letter dated 14/12/1960). In other letters she refers to the characters of Rebecca and of Mrs Danvers, to the effect that writing 'Rebecca' had on her, of her relationship with her mother and also a little on other writers, books and occasionally current affairs. Magee clearly told her of problems he was having and several of her letters discuss this. Others comment on his move to Cornwall, its attractions and landscape. Two final letters discuss Magee's change of name, one is addressed the Superintendent Registrar.


Administrative / Biographical History

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989), novelist, was the daughter of the actor Sir Gerald du Maurier (1873-1934), and his wife Muriel, and the granddaughter of the artist and novelist George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896). Daphne du Maurier grew up in Cumberland Terrace, London, and Cannon Hall, Hampstead, but her family developed strong links with Cornwall after buying a riverside house near Fowey, and it was in Cornwall that Daphne settled. She began publishing stories and articles in 1928; her first novel, 'The Loving Spirit', was published in 1931 by Heineman. There followed 'The Progress of Julius' (Heineman, 1933) and 'Gerald, a portrait' (Gollancz, 1934) before her first enduring success, 'Jamaica Inn', which was published by Gollancz in 1936. Two years later she published her most significant and best-loved novel, 'Rebecca'. Besides these she published a number of other novels, short-stories and biographical portraits, blending history and literary art in some, while developing her own unique vision of the macabre in others. She published one volume of autobiography, 'Growing Pains' about her early life in 1977. In 1932 she married Frederick A. M. Browning, later Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick (d 1965); they had one son and two daughters.

The novel 'Rebecca' was immensely popular and made her name. Du Maurier commented in 'The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories' (1981) that she didn't really understand why it became so popular, but that she immersed herself in the characters especially the narrator. Du Maurier continued to receive letters from all over the world concerning the plot and characterisations in the novel throughout her career.


The letters are arranged in date order.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply.

Acquisition Information


Other Finding Aids

Full catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Collection description compiled by Christine Faunch, Archive Curator, 5 May 2009. Catalogued by Michelle Grady on 15 May 2009. Modified by Christine Faunch, Archive Curator 5 Nov 2009.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.


None expected

Related Material

The library holds the following papers relating to Daphne du Maurier and her family: EUL MSS 144, 206, 207, 276, 301, 307, 341, 342, 346, 351, 354, 359, 363, 400. Other papers of Daphne du Maurier are held at the following repositories: West Yorkshire Archive Service; Cambridge University Library; University of Manchester (John Rylands Library) and the University of Warwick (Modern Records Centre)


It is not known whether this collection has formed the basis of a publication.