If you recognized the words from the title of today’s post, then you have certainly read my all-time favorite book, Rebecca, or seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film rendition of Rebecca staring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. I first read Rebecca in high school English, and I have read it countless times since. With its vivid depiction of the mysterious Manderley, the ancestral home of Maxim de Winter, and the malevolent Rebecca, Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca is a novel that has haunted and enchanted generations of readers who find themselves drawn to return again and again. Rebecca’s famous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” sets the scene for a novel about a house full of secrets where nothing is as it seems.
The author, Daphne du Maurier, placed Manderley in the setting of Menabilly, a home she leased that was hidden away in the woods on the south coast of Cornwall, England. The interiors were based on Milton Hall which du Maurier visited in her youth. Dating back to the 16th century, Milton remains the largest private house in Cambridgeshire, England. Today it is the family residence of Sir Philip and Lady Isabella Naylor-Leyland (in laws to Alice Naylor-Leyland) and it was prominently featured in The English Country House, published by Vendome in 2013. I am delighted to share a tour of Milton today with images graciously provided to The Glam Pad by Vendome.
In a recent survey, Rebecca – which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2018 – was voted England’s favorite book from the past 225 years. A beautiful anniversary edition of Rebecca can be purchased here (best price) or here. And if you love Rebecca, I also recommend Daphne du Maurier at Home and The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories.
You can learn more about Milton and other historic English homes in The English Country House, a beautiful coffee table book I highly recommend. And (spoiler alert) a tour of Hitchcock’s movie set of Rebecca is available via Hooked on Houses.