Daphne du Maurier has said that the fictional Manderley, ancestral home of Maxim de Winter, was based on two actual houses: Menabilly in Cornwall, and Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire. According to du Maurier, Manderley is essentially 'Milton in the setting of Menabilly'.
Menabilly is a Georgian manor house situated on the Gribben peninsula near Fowey on the south coast of Cornwall. It is the family seat of the Rashleighs, and was leased to Daphne du Maurier from 1943 to 1969.
Milton Hall, which Daphne du Maurier visited as a child, was built in 1594 and is the ancestral seat of the Fitzwilliam family. It is situated about three miles from Peterborough in what is now Cambridgeshire.
A lodge is a small house used by landowners on a temporary basis for activities such as hunting and shooting. It was also the name given to any small house in the grounds of a larger house that might be lived in by employees such as gamekeepers, gardeners and gatekeepers.
Here, the term is used to describe the house at the entrance to Manderley, which would have been occupied by the gatekeeper. Gatehouses/lodges are often architecturally interesting and attractive (sometimes designed in the mock-rustic style known as cottage orné) and have become sought-after residences in their own right.
A lattice window is subdivided into small panes by strips of lead. The strips may run diagonally (as left), or vertically and horizontally, as in the windows of Milton Hall (below), the model for Manderley.
Beech (Fagus) is a genus of deciduous trees which includes ten species. The two most commonly found species in the British Isles are the common beech (Fagus sylvatica) and the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea') which is renowned for its purplish-coloured leaves.
Hydrangea is a genus of flowering shrubs containing between 70 and 75 species. It is native to southern and eastern Asia and the Americas, but was introduced into Europe in the 18th century. Hydrangeas may be white, pink, blue, mauve, or even red in colour, depending on the species and the type of soil they are grown in. In those Hydrangea species capable of producing blue flowers (such as Hydrangea macrophylla), the blue colour has to be preserved through the maintenance of an acid soil.
A mullion is a vertical section which divides up an area of window, a door or a screen. Traditionally, in large country houses the mullions would be made of stone. The stone mullions of Milton Hall (the model for Manderley) may be seen by clicking on the link.
The rhododendrons at Manderley are described later in the text as being 'blood-red'.
Rhododendron is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees which contains over a 1,000 species. The plant is prolific in the Himalayas and commonplace in parts of Korea, Japan and Taiwan. It is the national flower of Nepal.
Rhododendrons were first introduced to the British Isles in the late 18th century and became highly popular in Victorian gardens. However, in certain parts of Britain, the spreading into the wild of the species Rhododendron ponticum is now seen as a significant threat to native flora and fauna. A little known fact about Rhododendron ponticum is that eating honey made from its nectar or pollen has, on rare occasions, caused a range of unpleasant symptoms, including hallucinations, vertigo and lack of co-ordination, collectively known as mad honey disease!
The British national daily newspaper The Times, sometimes known as The Times of London, was founded in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register. It was renamed The Times in 1788 and, with the nickname The Thunderer, came to be seen as the newspaper of the upper classes and the establishment. The Times remains in circulation today, having changed its format from broadsheet to tabloid in 2004.
The 'chestnut tree' is probably a horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), rather than a true chestnut tree belonging to the genus Castanea. The horse-chestnut is a large deciduous tree which was introduced to Britain in the 17th century and became popular for its attractive blossom in springtime. In autumn its nuts, known as conkers, have traditionally been collected by children to play a game of the same name.
There is something quintessentially English about the idea of 'tea under the chestnut tree', possibly because of its association with poetry such as Rupert Brooke's 'Stands the church clock at ten to three/And is there honey still for tea?'* or Longfellow's 'Under a spreading chestnut tree/The village smithy stands'**. It is, therefore, very much in keeping with all the other nostalgia-evoking concepts which come to the narrator's mind during her exile from England.
* from the poem 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester'
** from the poem 'The Village Blacksmith'
Bearing in mind the parallels that have been drawn between Rebecca and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, it is also interesting to note that Rochester proposes to Jane by 'the giant horse-chestnut', which is later struck by lightning.
Lilac (Syringa) is a genus of flowering plants containing between 20 and 25 species. Lilacs may be coloured white, blue, purple, pink, or lavender, but the colour commonly referred to as lilac is that of common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). In the Victorian system known as floriography or 'the language of flowers', lilac symbolizes 'the first emotions of love'. This association may have been the basis of the Ivor Novello song 'We'll Gather Lilacs' from the musical romance 'Perchance to Dream' (1945).
Lilacs are mentioned later on in the text when Maxim de Winter is telling the narrator how much he loves Manderley, and asks her whether she likes syringa.
Listen here to 'We'll Gather Lilacs' on Spotify.
For readers of this period, the term 'Happy Valley' would have brought to mind the 'Happy Valley set', a group of mostly upper-class British expatriates who settled in the Wanjohi valley area of Kenya from 1924 onwards. The 'set' became renowned for decadence and hedonism, their notoriety reaching a peak in 1941 with the murder of Lord Erroll, an event documented in the book White Mischief and the film of the same name. A negative portrayal of the Happy Valley lifestyle is also given by Juanita Carberry in her memoir Child of Happy Valley.
The Field is a British field sports magazine which was published for the first time in 1853. Field sports include all sporting activities which take place in the open air, but in common usage the term generally refers to country pursuits such as hunting, shooting and fishing. The Field continues to be published on a monthly basis.
The term chalk stream refers to any river, small or large, which flows over a bed of chalk (soft white limestone). Such rivers have very specific characteristics, including exceptional water clarity and consistent temperatures. As a result, they support a wide variety of fish, including brown trout and Atlantic salmon, and are prized by the fly-fishing community.
Chalk stream springs have traditionally been the site of watercress production as they have clean, mineral-rich water at a constant temperature.
Mayflies, sometimes known as shad flies, are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemoptera. They are closely related to dragonflies and damselflies. The adult flies live for a very short period of time, which varies from a few minutes to a few days.
Garden sorrel, or common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), is a bitter-tasting plant which is native to Britain.
In Tudor times, it was very highly thought of as a herb and salad ingredient, but it lost its popularity with the introduction of French sorrel (Rumex scutatus).
Middlesex Country Cricket Club, founded in 1864, is one of the cricket teams which take part in first-class county cricket in England and Wales. All the teams (with the exception of Marylebone Cricket Club) which participate in county cricket are named after the historic counties (those counties that no longer exist as administrative units). Nowadays, Middlesex generally play their games at Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood.
The Oval, situated at Kennington in the London borough of Lambeth, has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since 1845.
George Bradshaw (1801-1853) was an English map-maker, printer and publisher who pioneered the publication of railway timetables. His first British timetables were produced in 1839, and from 1841 until 1961 were published monthly as Bradshaw's Monthly Railway Guide.
Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide was published for the first time in 1847. It ceased publication in 1939.
There are about 20 species of foxglove, all of which belong to the genus Digitalis. The best known species is Digitalis purpurea, the common foxglove. Extracts from foxgloves are used to manufacture digitalis, a drug used to treat cardiac conditions.
Campion is the common name given to various flowering plants of the Lychnis and Silene genera. Campions found in Britain include the red campion (Silene dioica), the white campion (Silene latifolia) and the bladder campion (Silene vulgaris). Of these, the latter two could be described as "pale".
Crumpets are small, round cakes made from a batter of flour, milk and yeast. Traditionally, they are cooked on a griddle/bakestone in specially designed crumpet rings. They have a chewy, spongy texture, full of holes, and are eaten hot with butter and jam.
British angel cake is generally described as a triple-layered (occasionally, double-layered) sponge cake where one layer is coloured yellow, one coloured pink, and one left plain. The layers are generally sandwiched together with buttercream and may be topped with a thin layer of icing. Angel cake is, therefore, generally viewed as being different from the American angel food cake. However, The Complete Illustrated Cookery published by Associated Newspapers Ltd. in 1934 gives a recipe for 'angel cake' which has no colouring, and the following ingredients: flour, castor sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla essence, egg whites. These are identical to the ingredients of the American cake, suggesting that it may well have been angel food cake which was served at Manderley.
Oh! Fullers angel-cake, Robertson’s marmalade,
Liberty lampshade, come shine on us all,
My! what a spread for the friends of Myfanwy,
Some in the alcove and some in the hall.
The happy hunting grounds is widely considered to be the term used by some native American tribes to describe their version of 'heaven'; in the words of one commentator, 'the term "happy hunting grounds" refers to a benevolent and Edenic afterlife in which game is plentiful and there for the taking'.
The phrase was first used by James Fenimore Cooper in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans, where the character Chingachgook, following the death of his son Uncas, says:
'Why do my brothers mourn! ... why do my daughters weep! that a young man has gone to the happy hunting grounds; that a chief has filled his time with honour.'
However, even though the phrase has been widely used in cinema and television Westerns, and has passed into popular usage, there is no clear evidence that it is an accurate translation or interpretation of an idea expressed originally in a native American language.
The Côte d'Azur is the name given to the Mediterranean coastline of southeast France, extending roughly from the Franco-Italian border westwards to Toulon. It includes the Principality of Monaco which is divided into four traditional quartiers (or districts), one of which is Monte Carlo. British people often refer to the Côte d'Azur as the French Riviera.
Since the 18th century, the French Riviera has been a popular holiday destination for the British upper classes and royalty. During the first half of the 20th century, it also attracted many writers and artists, including W. Somerset Maugham and Pablo Picasso. Later on, it became the haunt of various celebrities in the world of film and popular music, including Brigitte Bardot and Elton John. Amongst the resorts of the Côte d'Azur, Monte Carlo, with its world-famous casino, has a particular reputation for attracting the wealthy and famous.
There is no record of a specific hotel named the Côte d'Azur in Monte Carlo, but Daphne du Maurier may have had a luxury hotel such as the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo (founded 1863) in mind when she created the Côte d'Azur.
Hotels were opened from 1894 onwards, and the area became a sought-after holiday destination for America's social and cultural élite, including the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, U.S. presidents and European nobility.
Claridge's is an up-market, five-star hotel situated in London's Mayfair. It was established in 1812 as Mivart's Hotel and, following development, became one of the premier London hotels. It was re-built in its present form in 1894, since when it has been the hotel of choice for many aristocrats and celebrities.
When Peter II of Yugoslavia and his wife were in exile at Claridge's during World War II, their suite was designated Yugoslav territory for one day in 1945 so that their son, Crown Prince Alexander, could claim to have been born on Yugoslav soil.
'Portrait of a Gentleman Unknown' is a common description of a painting in which the sitter has not been identified.
The examples shown here, by Robert Peake the Elder and El Greco, might easily fit the bill for the portrait sitter that the narrator of Rebecca has in mind: 'in black, with lace at his throat' and 'eyes that followed one'.
'Old Master' is a term given to any renowned European artist who painted from the 15th century to the 19th century.
Artists described in this way include Sandro Botticelli, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and numerous others.
A minstrels' gallery is a type of balcony built over a great hall or banqueting room. Its purpose was to allow musicians to entertain guests whilst remaining out of sight.
Similar arrangements may be found in some churches, although it is likely that the term used within the church setting would be musicians' gallery, rather than minstrels' gallery. In the picture (left) of the musicians' gallery at the church of St. Grwst at Llanrwst, the front part of the gallery is the rood screen which once belonged to Maenan Abbey.
The 'Conquest' referred to is the Norman conquest of England, which took place in 1066 when Duke William II of Normandy (known as 'William the Conqueror') defeated King Harold II of England at the Battle of Hastings.
The conquest inevitably had far-reaching consequences for the native Anglo-Saxons. William's followers received lands and titles, whilst English landowners were dispossessed, leading eventually to the demise of the Anglo-Saxon nobility. Not least of the changes brought about by the Norman conquest was that Anglo-Norman (a dialect of Old French) replaced Old English as the language of the ruling classes.
Æthelred II (c.968-1016), who has become known as Æthelred the Unready, was King of England between 976 and 1016, except for a brief period when he was overthrown by King Sweyn of Denmark.
The nickname Unready derives from the Old English unræd, which means bad counsel, in contract to Æthelred, which means noble counsel.
Chemy is an abbreviation of chemin de fer, a French card game played in European and Latin American casinos. It is sometimes also known as shimmy or chernay.
The game is of one of three versions of baccarat, which was introduced in France in the 15th century; in French, therefore, the use of the term chemin de fer for the card game predates its use to mean railway.
The other two versions of baccarat are known as punto banco and baccarat banque.
Although Daphne du Maurier herself confirmed that Manderley is set in Cornwall, she does not refer to the county by name in Rebecca, preferring to use the less specific term the west country.
The west country is a colloquial collective term for the historic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. It may also be used on occasions to include Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. The area covered by the west country corresponds roughly to the present-day administrative region known as South West England.
Having said that, the French Riviera was a popular destination for the British upper classes from the beginning of the 19th century until the early decades of the 20th, so the presence of a British Duke in Monte Carlo would not have seemed inappropriate in the period in which Rebecca is set.
Sospel is a small town, not far from Monte Carlo, in the Alpes-Maritime deparment of southeastern France. It dates back to the 5th century, and became a walled town during the 14th century. Only a tiny remnant of the walls has survived to the present day.
Snap is a very simple card game (although curiously difficult to explain!) and has traditionally been one of the first card games learnt by British children.
Happy Families is a traditional British card game played with specially designed playing cards depicting family members who follow a particular profession (such as Mrs Bun the Baker's wife; Mr Field the Farmer), the objective being to collect complete family sets.
The Principality of Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (the smallest being the Vatican City). Its traditional quartiers (districts) are called Monaco-Ville (Le Rocher); Monte Carlo; La Condamine and Fontvieille.
Monaco-Ville, which is located on a rocky headland overlooking the Mediterranean, retains many of the features of a medieval village and may well have been the site of 'that corner in Monaco' where 'a crooked house leant to a cobbled square'.
Anemone is a genus of flowering plants which contains about 120 diverse species. They are sometimes known as windflowers and come in a wide variety of colours.
The genus tends to be divided into three categories: low-growing species which bloom in springtime; tuberous Mediterranean types which bloom in spring and summer; and taller species which bloom in late summer and autumn.
The description 'stiff' suggests that the anemone Daphne du Maurier has in mind may be one of the taller-growing varieties.
The copper penny's predecessor was the English silver penny which was first produced in the 8th century.
Citronade is currently the name given to a cocktail made from lemonade and lemon vodka. It seems likely, therefore, that what is being referred to here is citronnade (almost invariably spelt with a double 'n'), the french word for a type of lemonade made from fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar. When the pulp, juice and zest of the lemons are used, and the mixture is cooked for some time, the drink is often referred to as Tunisian citronnade.
Click here for a simple citronnade recipe (instructions in French)
Click here for the more complex Tunisian citronnade (instructions in French)
From the 19th century onwards, the expression the East was a blanket term used by Europeans to describe large areas of Asia, with distinctions sometimes being drawn between the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East. In the post-colonial period, the use of such terminology has been analyzed and criticised in works such as Edward Saïd's Orientalism as representing a highly Eurocentric view of the world.
Having said that, the eastern slave trade is a term still in use to describe slave-trading within the Arab world (Western Asia, North Africa and other areas historically under Arab rule). It is sometimes suggested that the eastern slave trade has received less attention from historians than the Atlantic slave trade.
Lady's companions were well-bred women paid to accompany wealthy or titled women. They were given board and lodging, as well as a small allowance, and were expected to provide conversation and companionship, help entertain guests, and carry out minor domestic duties. The term was in use from the 18th century (possibly earlier) until approximately the middle of the 20th century.
Their social position was rather ambiguous as, even though they were not considered to be servants or employees in the strict sense, they did not have the same status as those they worked for. They often appear as characters in Agatha Christie's novels.