A Daphne Du Maurier Discovery

Though this might not be as earth shatteringly amazing as the woman who found some of Daphne Du Maurier’s lost short stories which became ‘The Doll’, I did have my own amazing Daphne Du Maurier moment the other day, well I think it’s amazing. It was all again when I was raking through the over flow of books which had been sent for an art installation. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted some taller books one of which was ‘Vanishing Cornwall’ by Daphne Du Maurier, which would have been a fabulous find in itself, this book itself was hiding some secrets…

I would have picked up ‘Vanishing Cornwell’ regardless because its Daphne nothing else needs to be said than that really. You all know I love her work. The fact this book is no longer in print and not so easy to get hold of was an added bonus. If you are like me you will love finding things in books, things previous owners used as book marks. Be they old postcards (possibly my favourite find, especially if they have a note), cinema tickets, shopping lists, etc I find it all fascinating. Well, whoever had this book before I ended up in a warehouse and then with me must have loved Daphne as much as I do as the book was filled with press cuttings about her…

Most of them are obituaries from all the broadsheet press dated April 20th 1989, the day after she died. There are also articles such as ‘Secret jealousy of the real Rebecca’ from the Observer on Sunday the 23rd of April 1989, ‘Estuary is a model for saving species’ from The Guardian June 8th 1996 which is all about ‘Frenchman’s Creek’, ‘Cornwall: A Tip of a Landscape’ which is a colour supplement from 1985 celebrating ‘Vanishing Cornwall’ as a book itself two decades on. My very favourite find though was ‘A Storyteller in a Vanishing Land’ from Living which is a huge piece on Du Maurier’s home Menabilly from 24th of May 1981… the article itself is older than me. Don’t you find that fascinating?  What more of a sign could I have that doing ‘Discovering Daphne’ was meant to be?

I do want to say here that all these books would have been pulped if they hadn’t be bought and used in the installation. So if you aren’t a fan of it let’s simply say worse things could have happened. Also bear in mind I do kind of know my books, though less my classics I admit, and I did take the very best stuff. Sorry, I just felt the need to mention that, back to things you find in books…

Sometimes I really do think you are meant to be in a certain place at a certain time and in this case I was meant to find this book and all it had in it. We can gloss over the other articles the reader had kept about the sale of a Victorian taxidermy museum can’t we? So I wondered have you ever found a book that you have been searching for ages, or didn’t even know you were searching for, and its suddenly there in front of you when you least expect it? What joyful things have you found in a book? What do you think of my find, is it fate?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Daphne Du Maurier, Discovering Daphne, Things In Books

21 responses to “A Daphne Du Maurier Discovery

  1. verityjdo

    hehe – I always put cuttings relating to authors and their obituaries in their books.

  2. Yes! Bookish fate, serendipity, kismet – call it what you will, but I absolutely believe that books find us. I have had it happen far too often, and heard wonderful stories like yours here today too many times to dismiss these things as random. Lucky you! Those press clippings alone!

  3. gaskella

    Serendipitous indeed! My late Mum had a habit of keeping press clippings in books and programmes – something I keep on meaning to emulate, but so far I just have a big pile of press clippings not in books.

  4. Of course it isn’t fate! It is just random coincidence (which of course you chose to bring to our attention). Just think of how many times you bought a book a didn’t find anything interesting in it. Now if you manage to this sort of thing for every other book I’ll begin to be impressed.

    Well, what else would you expect a physicist to say?


    • Hahahahahaha very true what more could I expect indeed Dark Puss.

      It’s happened a lot though recently not just with books but bookish things, it feels like I should always have come to Manchester and little signs reaffirm it.

  5. Susan E

    I love finding clippings and old postcards in used books….never found one about a taxidermy museum though. I also like pencilled notes in the margin, old bookplates and inscriptions.

    • Isn’t the taxidermy factor one of the weirdest things ever? I love finding lots of these things too. I have kept them in a seperate box but now wish I had left them in the books so the books have their history moving forward with them.

  6. In a rare book of paintings by the California minimalist John McLaughlin: a letterpress “opening night” invitation from the NY gallery that used to represent him.

  7. Pingback: June’s Incomings… | Savidge Reads

  8. I have that Vanishing Cornwall book! No exciting press cuttings in mine, though. I quite often find train tickets and the like, which start to become interesting when they’re 50+ years old. And on the subject of books being pulped, we had a Book Barn nearby that closed down and for a week gave away its stock for free before pulping the remains. Problem was that its stock was already secondhand shop rejects so it took me hours to pick out a dozen books that were at best of vague interest. Your finds are amazing by comparison.

  9. ana

    How fabulous is that? Good on so many levels, Simon. How long do you have for me to break into a rave… Literary archaeology? Encouragement for your October venture? A random and wonderful blessing in a demanding year?

  10. ana

    Meant to mention how much I like the new format. It works so well! An excellent choice.

  11. ….something along the line but a very personal experience, actually two experiences…..at a local farm auction of an elderly neighbour I opened an old appliance catalogue on top of a pile of books..it had been used to paste mementoes into throughout many years….there was a clipping about an agricultural award my late brother ( who I adored, he was 18 years my senior) had earned in high school and a news clipping showing him combining his whreat field ( he had died many years previous to the auction quite young (31) in a drowning accident)….and recently… I wrote a poem about a sheltering angel (my elderly mom passed away recently)….once we got her things sorted out and books etc here…inside her family Bible (absolutely full of clippings, photos, messages that she had glued in etc) was an actual white feather attached to a handmade bookmark bearing a scripture verse….my last line… in my own poem was about a lingering white feather of the sheltering angel….. ( I know…!)

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