Daphne Du Maurier; Did These Covers Help or Hinder…

One of the things that annoyed me the more I read Daphne Du Maurier was the fact people seemed to label her as a romance novelist. However when I plucked, and dusted off, my copies of ‘Mary Anne’ (which we will be discussing in more detail tomorrow) and ‘Rebecca’ (the very copy below was my first Daphne purchase and I will be re-reading it for the ‘Discovering Daphne’ finale) I looked at the covers, which were originally from the 1970s when there was a slight Daphne resurgence, and I could see why they might have been seen as just ‘romance novels’…

Retro fabulous, or tacky romance?

Now of course I think that these covers were fabulous and, as you can see from my ‘Why I Love Daphne’ post if, it was the wonderfully vampy, dramatic and dare I say camp covers that had me grabbing them in second hand bookshops. Would I have bought them at the time (let’s gloss over the fact that I wasn’t born when these came out)? The answer is probably not.

Why? Well, I wouldn’t have thought that they were of any particular literary merit and so I can completely understand why many other people might have looked at them and thought ‘ooh no I don’t think so’, I can also see how during that era she started to be bought in bulk by people who were reading Mills and Boon. It’s a difficult thing to get a cover right as, I am sure, we have discussed on Savidge Reads. It seems a shame that people really built up and idea of Daphne based on those covers back then, but we do all judge books based on the cover – even if we don’t like to admit it.

Now, over thirty years on, I want the whole set of these Pan editions from the mid-70’s because of their wonderful novel and rather novelty retro covers, they are fabulous. Like Daphne! So maybe people will find these wonderful old copies, along with the new sultry covers from Virago, and discover just what a wonderful, and indeed fabulous, writer Daphne was.

What’s your thought on these book covers, would these classic/retro covers put you off trying Daphne or do they appeal?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Discovering Daphne

19 responses to “Daphne Du Maurier; Did These Covers Help or Hinder…

  1. oh probably look good at the time simon the Rebecca has aged better the mary ann looks very dated and almost like a historic romance ,all the best stu

  2. Hinder! Hinder! Campy yet hideous too and as you so wisely suggest, reflect so little of the intelligence and craft of the author. Such a good point you make here.

  3. novelinsights

    I got my own trashy copy of Rebecca today! Also Pan I think but a different one to yours. And it even shouts on the cover that it is a ‘Romantic novel’! I think I would have been put off at the time but like you I can’t help but love the retro look now… 🙂

  4. Susan in TX

    They would probably hinder me. I’ve got to add…the Rebecca cover looks a lot like an old Nancy Drew cover to me. The Mary Anne cover, however, seems to fit the story more than my more modern Sourcebooks edition does. 🙂

  5. Lyn

    Well, that Rebecca paperback was my first introduction to Du Maurier in the mid 70s & I fell in love with her writing. It was either the Pan paperbacks or the yellow Gollancz hardbacks at the library – neither very attractive but it was the story that mattered. Still does, although I admit I fall in love with an attractive cover as quickly as the next reader.

  6. I think they’d have put me off — of course I like them now, but if I knew nothing about her novels I’d have definitely put them in the slightly trashy romance slot on the strength of these.

  7. I don’t think these would put me off. They remind me off the original Nancy Drew covers, to be honest, which I indulged in at length in my pre-teens. The reason why i thought Rebecca was a “romantic novel” for the longest time had to do with this cover. It’s very very very reminiscent of Danielle Steel. I finally got over it, and read my first Du Maurier a couple of years back (Rebecca, unsurprisingly), and was floored. Damn you cover artists.

  8. they don’t appeal to me as a cover on its own, but because I know how fabulous she is I would buy them ragardless of the cover. If I wasn’t familiar with them and just picked the book up, the cover might turn me off

    • They actually remind me of the old Mills and Boon covers when they had that slight misty effect. I used to want to read those too. Maybe it’s part of my inner OAP that likes them.

  9. Those are fun covers … although definitely in a retro-kitsch kind of way. I’d love to have a few myself, but I can imagine they stopped plenty of people from taking Du Maurier seriously, as you say…

    • Hoorah Sam you popped by… And now I have shown you how shoddy I am at commenting – oops. You can get these ace retro ones all over the Internet dirt cheap and in lots of second hand shops, don’t pretend you aren’t rushing out the door to hunt for them right now!!

  10. Pingback: Books » Archive » The ‘middlebrow’ question

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