The Rebecca Notebook.

University shares Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca Notebook

The University of Exeter has loaned The Rebecca Notebook – the key document that defended Daphne Du Maurier against plagiarism – to the British Library for a major exhibition.

Set to attract thousands of visitors to the British Library this summer, Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands explores treasures from the last 1,000 years of English literature that have been shaped by the country’s unique spaces and places.

Featuring over 150 literary works, the exhibition runs from 11 May to 25 September 2012.

This is the first time the notebook, which is looked after by the University of Exeter’s Special Collections, has been on public display. It was donated to the University by Daphne Du Maurier’s three children in 2001, along with a large collection of the author’s papers and photographs.

The collection is regularly used for academic research by visiting scholars and University of Exeter academics and students.

The Rebecca Notebook shows Daphne Du Maurier’s early plans for her best-selling novel Rebecca, which was later adapted into one of Hitchcock’s most iconic films. When, the author was unsuccessfully sued for plagiarism in 1947, the notebook provided key evidence of her authenticity as a writer.

From idyllic rural landscapes to gritty cities, Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands will showcase a literary map of the British Isles and highlight how writers, from William Shakespeare and Walter Scott, to John Lennon and JK Rowling, have recorded the changing spaces of the British Isles in some of their greatest literary works, and in turn inspired their readers to explore the country in new ways.

The Rebecca Notebook will appear in the section of the exhibition, which looks at the ways in which writers are inspired by the rivers, seashores and other waterscapes of the country. From nostalgic evocations of childhood bucket and spade holidays to powerful themes of death, rebirth and the eternity of nature, water plays a key part in our literary heritage. The document will be displayed alongside the Exeter Book from Exeter Cathedral and this section will also include James Joyce’s original notesheets for the chapter of Ulysses.

University of Exeter Head of Heritage Collections and Culture Services Dr Christine Faunch said: “We are very privileged to hold so many of Daphne Du Maurier’s documents and photographs in our collections. These unique items are a fantastic resource for our students, who regularly consult them for dissertations, and our academics. However, we are also committed to sharing our historic documents with wider audiences. We hope that the Rebecca Notebook will inspire the thousands of visitors to the British Library this summer.”

Date: 15 May 2012