“The Happy Valley”
“The Happy Valley” appears in a collection of ‘lost stories’ that have been published in a new collection, THE DOLL: THE LOST STORIES (HarperCollins, 2011). Du Maurier became famous for her novel, REBECCA, which became a popular movie of the same name directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The stories in this collection all appeared early in du Maurier’s career, largely 1927-1937 and have have been out of print since their first magazine publication. More of her work can be found at www.dumaurier.org.
In addition to “The Happy Valley,” the collection includes a short story about a male sex doll, written 10 years before REBECCA. “The Doll” tells the story of a frustrated romance in which a young man discovers the girl he loves – also called Rebecca – will never accept his advances because she owns a life-size mechancial male doll. It was written in the 1920s and last published in 1937 in a compilation of rejected stories called The Editor Regrets. “The Doll” was rediscovered by a Cornish bookseller and Du Maurier enthusiast, Ann Willmore, who knew of its existence but spent years trawling magazines and the Internet to track it down.
Author Polly Samson, who wrote a foreward to the collection says: “What is interesting about these stories is that you can see the embryo of the writer she would become. Many of the themes that would become apparent in her later novels can be seen here. They are a way into her preoccupations.”
Daphne du Maurier’s books have proved durable, althought perhaps not so much as those of her contemporaries, Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, or even VS Pritchett. This collection of uncovered stories reveals her great gift as a romantic writer – a writer nearly always entertaining, who could write with real urgency, had an intriguing darker side, and who provided deep insights into human nature.