20 Aug 2013

TS Eliot poem hand set by Virginia Woolf fetches £4,500 at auction

Hogarth Press edition of TS Eliot's The Waste Land. Photograph: Bonhams
A first edition of The Waste Land published by Woolf's Hogarth Press has been sold to St Andrew's University. Read the article - here

'A rare UK first edition of T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land, hand-set by Virginia Woolf – who "had difficulty with the typography" – has been bought at auction by the University of St Andrews for £4,500 after being donated to Oxfam.'

Sales such as these can draw attention to interesting aspects of the poem itself. For example, Lydia Wilkinson, books specialist at auction house Bonhams, notes that:

"Woolf had difficulty with the typography because of the way Eliot would write, the rhythm and space used in his poems, and she had a bit of trouble getting the typeface right." 

This type of detail, considering the already acknowledged influence that The Waste Land' had on texts such as Mrs. Dalloway, can cause us to reconsider the "rhythm and space" in Woolf's novels.

See more Eliot related content on this blog - here
And more on Woolf - here

19 Aug 2013

Daphne du Maurier's son reveals 'Rebecca’ was based on the author's life

From the Telegraph
Interview in the Telegraph with the author's son Kits Browning which discusses some of the source material for the novel including du Maurier's life and some interesting documents. It also notes that there is a new adaptation in the pipeline! Read the full interview here.

Some excerpts: 

'"Very roughly, the book will be about the influence of a first wife on a second,” wrote Daphne du Maurier in her notes. “Until wife 2 is haunted day and night… a tragedy is looming very close and crash! Bang! Something happens.”


The seed of the story lay in du Maurier’s jealousy of Jan Ricardo, the first fiancĂ©e of her husband. “I know that she came across one or two letters or cards, fairly sort of harmless things, where Jan did sign 'Jan Ricardo’ with this wonderful great R,” says Browning, flourishing his hand in the air. It is a portentous curlicue that is emulated in the book.
“The name Rebecca,” wrote du Maurier, “stood out black and strong, the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters.” Ricardo later threw herself under a train, although not, Browning says, due to his parents’ marriage. Still, it is said that Daphne was haunted by the suspicion that her husband remained attracted to Ricardo.
Manderley, like Hogwarts and Brideshead, is a name fixed in our imagination. Yet the anonymity of the novel’s narrator continues to intrigue. “She couldn’t think what to call her and so she didn’t call her anything. And then it became a challenge: could she actually write the whole thing without it,” says Browning. “Funnily enough, in the Hitchcock film, in the script she is written as 'I’, but they all called her 'Daphne’ on the shoot.”
Both Mrs de Winters were drawn from du Maurier’s own character. “I always identified Mum with the second, rather timid one,” says Browning. “It was totally split, because she was just as good as Rebecca at the sailing and all that toughness.'

You can see Vivian Leigh's test reel for the part of the second Mrs de Winter - here (via @DrJenBarnes)
Other du Maurier content on this blog can be found - here
Daphne du Maurier's papers are held in University of Exeter's Heritage Collections and form part of the subject of Prof. Helen Taylor's chapter in the forthcoming book: The Boundaries of the Literary Archive