Daphne Du Maurier memorabilia sale grosses £150,000 at Ely auction including her last typewriter that sold for 40 times it estimate
PUBLISHED: 17:09 07 May 2019
Manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia owned by author Daphne Du Maurier and her husband, Lieutenant General Frederick Browning, attracted buyers from across the globe in a £150,000 sale at an Ely auction house.
Her last typewriter, an Olympia SM4, became a star item as it went under the hammer for £6,350 - 40 times more than its estimate.
It was amongst 354 lots from an archive of material that was sold at Rowley's.
Other highlights included a dramatized version of Du Maurier's most famous novel 'Rebecca' written in Daphne's hand, which made £7,874, and two newly discovered poems, one titled 'The Song of the Happy Prostitute' which were found discreetly hidden behind a photo of the author by Rowley's auctioneers, and went on to sell for £5334 .
Rowley's managing director Roddy Lloyd said: "It has been a five hour marathon auction because of the number of bids on individual items.
"We have had interest from academic collections and private collectors as far afield as Qatar and the United States, although many items will return to Cornwall."
Dr Laura Varnam, an English lecturer from University College, Oxford, who attended the sale, is currently writing a book on Du Maurier and was not surprised at the international appeal.
"Du Maurier is one of our most overlooked authors but she is without doubt one of the 20th century's most important , influential and versatile writers," she said.
Kristen Baker-Munton of Suffolk sold the archive that had been passed down from his late mother, Maureen Baker-Munton, a close friend of 'Boy' and Du Maurier.
He said: "I have been amazed by the interest.
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"For the last decade the collection has been hidden away in boxes for safe-keeping - we just weren't sure what the best thing to do with it was and we had no idea what the level of interest would be.
"When we made the decision to sell we certainly hoped it would give collectors the chance to own something which belonged to Daphne and Boy.
"It has been really heartening to see that younger generations are still fascinated by Du Maurier's work but we have been equally surprised, as the First and Second World War have become more distant, that there has been incredible interest in my god father Boy's extraordinary military career."
Amongst the highlights from Lieutenant General Frederick 'Boy' Browning's military memorabilia, were two pennant flags from the 1st Airborne Division which made £12,446 and were secured by a UK buyer.
Many items will return to Daphne and Boy's beloved Cornwall. Allen Jackson the owner of Jamaica Inn in Cornwall, which inspired Daphne to write the novel of the same name after she and a friend became lost in fog and discovered the Inn on Bodmin, was one of the under bidders for the type writer.
Although Mr Jackson said he was disappointed not to win the final bid, he was also slightly relieved as the price kept escalating upwards. In the end he managed to secure a number of other pieces for the museum he curates at Jamaica Inn.
Ann and David Willmore who run the Daphne Du Maurier website and a small bookshop in Fowey, Cornwall, with a number of dedicated shelves to Du Maurier's work, successfully bid on other memorabilia which will go on public display in Cornwall, including a black and white photographic print of Daphne standing outside her home 'Menabilly' with newspaper reporters and radio correspondents on the final rehearsal day, for the D-Day landings.
The couple who were originally from St Albans are passionate about the author and like Du Maurier passionate about Cornwall.
Mr Willmore said "It was my wife, Ann, who originally loved Du Maurier's work. "We came down to Devon for a holiday and she insisted we visited Fowey in Cornwall, where Daphne used to live at 'Ferryside' and we really never went back. "My wife was obsessed with buying the bookshop at Fowey, 'Bookends', and eventually we did."
The couple who are now retiring are involved with the Fowey Festival, a literary arts festival which originally began as a celebration of Du Maurier's work.