Rebecca Forster Biography & Facts
Rebecca is a 1938 Gothic novel written by English author, Daphne du Maurier.
The novel depicts an unnamed young woman who impetuously marries a wealthy widower, before discovering that both he and his household are haunted by the memory of his late first wife, the title character.
A bestseller which has never gone out of print, Rebecca sold 2.8 million copies between its publication in 1938 and 1965. It has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen, including a 1939 play by du Maurier herself, the film Rebecca (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the 2020 remake directed by Ben Wheatley for Netflix.
The novel is remembered especially for the character Mrs. Danvers, the West Country estate Manderley, and its opening line: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
While working as the companion to a rich American woman on holiday in Monte Carlo, the unnamed narrator, a naïve young woman in her early 20s, becomes acquainted with a wealthy Englishman, Maxim de Winter, a 42-year-old widower. After a fortnight of courtship, she agrees to marry him and, after the wedding and honeymoon, accompanies him to his mansion in Cornwall, the beautiful estate Manderley.
Mrs. Danvers, the sinister housekeeper, was profoundly devoted to the first Mrs de Winter, Rebecca, who died in a sailing accident about a year before Maxim and the second Mrs de Winter met. She continually attempts to undermine the narrator psychologically, subtly suggesting to her that she will never attain the beauty, urbanity, and charm her predecessor possessed. Whenever the narrator attempts to make changes at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers describes how Rebecca ran it when she was alive. Each time Mrs. Danvers does this, she implies that the narrator lacks the experience and knowledge necessary for running an important estate. Cowed by Mrs. Danvers' imposing manner and the other members of West Country society's unwavering reverence for Rebecca, the narrator becomes isolated.
The narrator is soon convinced that Maxim regrets his impetuous decision to marry her and is still deeply in love with the seemingly perfect Rebecca. In an attempt to please him, she revives the Manderley costume ball, a custom Rebecca had instated, with the help of Mrs. Danvers. On her suggestion, the narrator wears a replica of the dress shown in a portrait of one of the house's former inhabitants, ignorant of the fact that Rebecca had worn the same costume to much acclaim shortly before her death. When the narrator enters the hall and Maxim sees the dress, he angrily orders her to change.
Shortly after the ball, Mrs. Danvers reveals her contempt for the narrator, believing she is trying to replace Rebecca, and reveals her deep, unhealthy obsession with the dead woman. Mrs. Danvers tries to get the narrator to commit suicide by encouraging her to jump out of the window. However, she is interrupted before the narrator does so by the disturbance caused by a nearby shipwreck. A diver investigating the wrecked ship's hull's condition also discovers the remains of Rebecca's sailing boat, with her decomposed body still on board, despite Maxim having identified another body that had washed ashore shortly after Rebecca's death.
This discovery causes Maxim to confess to the narrator that his marriage to Rebecca was a sham. Rebecca, Maxim reveals, was a cruel and selfish woman who manipulated everyone around her into believing her to be the perfect wife and a paragon of virtue. On the night of her death, she told Maxim that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretense that it was Maxim's, and he would be powerless to stop her. In a rage, Maxim shot her through the heart, then disposed of her body by placing it in her boat and sinking it at sea. The narrator thinks little of Maxim's murder confession but is relieved to hear that Maxim has always loved her and never Rebecca.
Rebecca's boat is raised, and it is discovered to have been deliberately sunk. An inquest brings a verdict of suicide. However, Rebecca's first cousin and lover, Jack Favell, attempts to blackmail Maxim, claiming to have proof that she could not have intended suicide based on a note she sent to him the night she died. It is revealed that Rebecca had had an appointment with a doctor in London shortly before her death, presumably to confirm her pregnancy. When the doctor is found, he reveals that Rebecca had cancer and would have died within a few months. Furthermore, due to the malformation of her uterus, she could never have been pregnant. Maxim assumes that Rebecca, knowing that she would die, manipulated him into killing her quickly. Mrs. Danvers had said after the inquiry that Rebecca feared nothing except dying a lingering death.
Maxim feels a great sense of foreboding and insists on driving through the night to return to Manderley. However, before he comes in sight of the house, it is clear from a glow on the horizon and wind-borne ashes that it is ablaze.
The Narrator/the Second Mrs de Winter: A timid, naïve, middle-class woman in her early twenties, who enjoys sketching. Neither the narrator's first nor maiden name is revealed. She is referred to as "my wife", Mrs de Winter, "my dear", and so on. The one time she is introduced with a name is during a fancy dress ball, in which she dresses as a de Winter ancestor and is introduced as "Caroline de Winter", although this is clearly not her own name. She signs her name as "Mrs M. de Winter", using Maxim's initial. Early in the novel she receives a letter and remarks that her name was correctly spelled, which is "an unusual thing," suggesting her name is uncommon, foreign or complex. While courting her, Maxim compliments her on her "lovely and unusual name". Despite her timidity, she gradually matures throughout the novel, refusing to be a victim of Rebecca's phantom-like influence any longer and becoming a strong, assertive woman in her own right.
Maximilian "Maxim" de Winter: The reserved, unemotional owner of Manderley. He marries his new wife after a brief courtship, yet displays little affection toward her after the marriage. Emotionally scarred by his traumatic marriage to Rebecca, his distance toward his new wife causes her to fear he regrets his marriage to her and is still haunted by Rebecca's death. Maxim killed Rebecca after she told him that she was carrying her lover's child, that he would have to raise as his own. He does eventually reveal to his new wife that he never loved Rebecca but loves her, but not until several months of marriage have passed. In the 1940 film adaptation, his full name is George Fortescue Maximilian de Winter.
Mrs Danvers: The cold, overbearing housekeeper of Manderley. Danvers was Rebecca's family maid when she was a child and has lived with her for years. She is unhealthily obsessed with Rebecca and preserving Rebecca's memory. She resents the new Mrs.... Discover the Rebecca Forster popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Rebecca Forster books.