Unseen du Maurier poems found hidden


Two unknown poems by Daphne du Maurier were discovered behind a photo of her in a swimming costume. They are part of an archive of du Maurier material being sold at Rowley’s in Ely, Cambs.

Two previously unknown poems by literary giant Daphne du Maurier have been discovered hidden inside a photograph frame.

They are thought to date from the late 1920s at the time the Jamaica Inn and Rebecca author was about 20 – and one is titled ‘Song of the Happy Prostitute’.

Auctioneer Roddy Lloyd was cataloguing an archive of her letters and pictures when something made him look more closely at the small photograph.

The photo in which the poems were hidden

It depicted du Maurier in a swimming costume standing on rocks – quite possibly in Cornwall – and was contained in a five inch high blue leather frame.

He withdrew the photograph and then discovered the carefully-folded sheet of A4 paper with a poem on each side.

How du Maurier had secreted her poem ‘Song of the Happy Prostitute’

The title of the pencil-written poem ‘Song of the Happy Prostitute’ accurately sums up its meaning, a prostitute telling how she enjoys her work.

It includes: “Why do they picture me as tired and old… selling myself with sorrow, just to gain a few dull pence to shield me from the rain”.

On the reverse, in fountain pen, are untitled stanzas covering subjects such as loneliness and include:

When I was ten, I thought the greatest bliss
would be to rest all day upon hot sand under a burning sun…
time has slipped by, and finally I’ve known
The lure of beaches under exotic skies
and find my dreams to be misguided lies
For God! how dull it is to rest alone

The archive is being sold by Rowley’s of Ely, Cambridgeshire, on 27th April, and spans more than 40 years of correspondence between du Maurier and her close friend Maureen Baker-Munton.

It was consigned by Baker-Munton’s son Kristen and contains hundreds of lots including previously unseen photos of the Queen and Prince Philip in their early days together.

Kristen Baker Munton, reading through a du Maurier document

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip having a picnic – one of the royal photos in the sale

Auctioneer Roddy said: “It was by pure luck that I looked in the back of the frame and I am still not quite sure what made me do it.

“The pose of du Maurier in the photograph reminded me of Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy and I opened it up to take the photo out – and the piece of paper was behind it.

The small photo shows du Maurier in a swimming costume in a ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ pose

“It’s always exciting when you come across something like this – it’s an auctioneer’s dream.

“This archive has thrown up many surprises and this latest discovery I’m sure will interest du Maurier’s fans.

“We think it dates from the 1920s when du Maurier was around 20. The poems are not juvenile ones of a child, nor the polished products of her later years.

“They show her working on her craft at an interesting time and are perhaps from her early visits to Ferryside at Bodinnick in Cornwall where she would write.

“The Song of the Happy Prostitute” is really interesting but not, perhaps, what one would expect from du Maurier which might explain why it was hidden away in this fashion, probably by du Maurier herself.

“It was then given to her great friend Maureen.”

The photos and poems are being sold in the same lot with an estimate of £400-600.

The archive includes many other photos and documents contained in hundreds of lots.

Daphne and husband ‘Boy’ Browning, 1956

Du Maurier and her children at Menabilly – my Mena – which inspired the novel Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier




For more information contact Ed Baker at Deep South Media on 07788392965