Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was published in 1938 and sold nearly 3 million copies between its publication and 1965. Alfred Hitchcock adapted the book for his film, Rebecca, in 1940 which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
But our heroine is not Rebecca. When she receives a letter she remarks that her name is spelled correctly, “an unusual thing.” Maxim de Winter compliments her on her “lovely and unusual name” during his whirlwind courtship of her. But we are never told what her name is, other than Mrs de Winter after she marries Maxim.
Rebecca de Winter haunts the story as Maxim’s first wife who died less than a year before he meets our heroine. Beautiful and charming, she dominates everyone at Manderley as much in death as she did in life. Few know her true, vile nature. She tormented Maxim with vivid details of her numerous affairs and manipulated husband and staff without remorse. Her loyal childhood maid, the indomitable Mrs Danvers, keeps Rebecca’s memory very much alive and is determined to stop our heroine from taking Rebecca’s place at Manderley. When she fails to come between the newly weds, she apparantly burns Mandereley to the ground to stop our heroine from becoming mistress there.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The brooding estate of Manderley is inspired by du Maurier’s home at Menabilly on the Cornish Coast, just outside of Fowey.