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Virago to publish newly discovered Daphne du Maurier stories
18.02.11 | Charlotte Williams
Virago is publishing a new collection of 13 early short stories by Daphne du Maurier, including five discovered by a Cornish bookseller and du Maurier enthusiast.
The Doll will be published on 5th May and will feature "And His Letters Grew Colder", "The Doll", "The Happy Valley", "East Wind" and "The Limpit", found by Ann Willmore, co-owner of Bookends of Fowey and Bookends Too, in magazines contemporary to du Maurier or in American collections of her work. Willmore approached Virago with the stories through Kits Browning, du Maurier's son, who still lives in Fowey.
The title story of the new collection, "The Doll", was found in a book published in 1937 by Michael Joseph called The Editor Regrets, a compilation of short stories by authors popular at that time that had been rejected by editors or magazines.
Virago Modern Classics commissioning editor Donna Coonan described "The Doll" as the story most people will talk about. She said: "It is gothic, suspenseful and macabre."
Du Maurier mentioned writing the story in her autobiography, Myself When Young, but it had seemingly disappeared—until unearthed by Willmore.
Coonan said the book will appeal to fans of du Maurier and people who want to be able to discover the themes going through all her work. Coonan highlighted the cynical approach to relationships that permeates the young du Maurier's writing, and the dark themes of betrayal and lost innocence. Coonan described "East Wind" as being about "an Eden being discovered and corrupted", as sailors arrive on an inhabited, but previously isolated, island.
Willmore picked out "The Happy Valley" as her favourite, as it is the first mention of Happy Valley, eight years before it crops up as one of the settings in Rebecca. On her fascination with the author, Willmore said: "I always loved her writing. Her short stories are different to her novels, they have a sting in the tale, and are quite sinister and quite overlooked."
The other eight stories are taken from Early Stories, a collection of du Maurier's early work published in the 1950s. With an introduction by author Polly Samson, which, said Coonan, brings out all the strands of du Maurier's work, and her life, the collection will be published as B-format paperback priced £8.99.