Page 328. " I remembered seeing Colonel Julyan at the ball dressed as Cromwell "

 Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was the leader of the Parliamentarians or 'Roundheads' during the English Civil War.

Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell became a member of the Rump Parliament, and played a dominant role in the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. (At that time, Wales was subsumed under England.)

In 1653, he became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, a position he held until his death.


Oliver Cromwell (2nd. half of 17th century)
Public DomainOliver Cromwell (2nd. half of 17th century) - Credit: Peter Lely
Page 331. " 'I know the Far East,' said Colonel Julyan. 'I was in China for five years. Then Singapore.' "
The British Empire in 1921
Public DomainThe British Empire in 1921 - Credit: Vadac

As discussed in bookmark p.25, in English and other European languages, it was customary to distinguish between the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East. The Far East included such diverse areas as China, Japan, Korea, the Indian sub-continent and the whole of Southeast Asia (as confirmed by the two areas which Colonel Julyan names).

Singapore is a southeast Asian city-state which consists of 63 separate islands. It is situated off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. When Rebecca was written in 1938, Singapore was a British colony, part of the British Empire which by 1922 included 458 million people, one fifth of the world's population. As a result, many British individuals would, like Colonel Julyan, have had the opportunity to work in a large variety of countries under British rule. China was not part of the empire, but Britain played a large part in controlling its economy, a situation which has been described by some historians as 'informal empire'.

Click here to see a list of countries in the British Empire.


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Page 331. " 'Isn't that where they make the curry?' I said "
Singapore fish-head curry
Creative Commons AttributionSingapore fish-head curry - Credit: Ernesto Andrade

 Curry is the generic name given, mainly in Western culture, to a large variety of dishes which have their origins in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Although anglicized versions of curry were mentioned in British cookbooks from the mid-18th century onwards, it was not well known until the period of the British Raj when it came to the attention of British Civil Servants and military personnel. However, the widespread development of curry houses (mainly of Bengali origin) in Britain's towns and cities would not take place until several decades after the publication of Rebecca in 1938.

Core ingredients in Malaysian and Singaporean curries include mutton, chicken, shrimp, fish, eggs and aubergines, which may be combined with turmeric, coconut milk, shallots, ginger, belacan (shrimp paste), chilli peppers and garlic.

Click here for a Singapore-style curry recipe.