Autograph Letter Signed ("Daphne") to "V. G." [Victor Gollancz],
DU MAURIER, Daphne 1907-1989. Novelist (1942)
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3 1/2 pages 8vo. 8 Readymoney Cove, Fowey, Cornwell 28 November 1842
A wonderful letter to du Maurier's publisher, Victor Gollancz, regarding her just-finished book, Hungry Hill, and the forthcoming finalisation of the work (editing/publishing process): "The book is finished, and I am busy going through the M. S., and cutting hard (I adore cutting!) I don't think it will be too long by the time I'm finished with it, in a few days". Also mentions earlier works Frenchman's Creek and Rebecca.
She writes, particularly, about the next steps they need to take before publication; how between herself, a "nice reader in Devon", and Gollancz, they will polish the book from its current form, into the final publishable work: "Now, what about my sending it direct to the printers, and so on to your nice reader in Devon, like we did with Frenchman's Creek? I know there was some good arrangement, and the reader and I corrected the proofs between us ... It all saves time ..."
She makes a particular request of Gollancz, "I want you to promise not to look at the thing until it is in proof", writing somewhat self-deprecatingly, "my manuscripts are always so ill-spelt and untidy!" She suggests (in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner) that the best thing that would nudge the work towards completion, would be if Gollancz would "get a comfortable cold in the head just before Christmas, and spend a week-end in bed glancing at the proofs ... you might quite enjoy them." Hungry Hill, apparently, according to the author "is definitely a book to read in bed!"
She also touches on the cover design, expressing a wish that it be in a "black binding, with Hungry Hill across it in gold, like I had for Rebecca? Or is that a peace-time measure?"
Du Maurier rented the cottage at Readymoney Cove (from whence this letter is addressed) between April 1942 and Autumn 1943 as the family home, Ferryside, had been requisitioned as a naval headquarters and she didn’t wish to impose on her mother and sisters. Prior to this move she and her children had been staying at Langley End, Hertfordshire with Christopher Puxley and family (Puxley’s ancestors were the inspiration for the family in Hungry Hill). This move came about rather abruptly, occasioned by Puxley’s wife catching the two of them in an intimate embrace. At the time du Maurier wrote in a letter to a friend that she was returning to Cornwall to “sort myself out” (letter to Garth Lean) and, whilst she may have physically removed herself from Puxley, she dove into the stories she had been told by him of his family and of Ireland; from them, creating a story of her own. Du Maurier’s husband, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning, was unaware of the infidelity that had inspired du Maurier’s seventh novel as, at the time, he was away busy setting up Britain's first airborne division. No hint of this interesting context is apparent in this letter, but du Maurier does reference the war and her husband, signing the letter off, "The war looks slightly better, but as my husband writes, "There's a devil of a way to go yet.""
Hungry Hill (published in 1943) is a family saga that follows the Brodrick family (based on Christopher Puxley's Irish ancestors) over the course of a hundred years between 1820 - 1920. The novel's title is thought to reference a mountain of that name in the Caha Mountains, on the Beara peninsula in Co. Cork: partly due to the fact the Puxley's had mines in a county in Allihies, a parish in this area, and also due to du Maurier's descriptions of the setting, which strongly evoke Beara: “It was typical south-westerly weather, the clouds travelling low, and the soft, blustering wind bringing scattered showers that fell heavy for five minutes and then passed, leaving a space of blue no larger than a man’s fist in the sky, with a glimpse of a sun that promised nothing." (Hungry Hill's opening line).
Some evidence of paperclip/staple marks to upper corner of both sheets, but near fine nonetheless.
Stock Code: 228650