Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier: From yesterday to today!

BBC's Jamaica Inn coming to BBC One

With the upcoming BBC production of Jamaica Inn to be aired over three consecutive nights beginning 21 April - 23 April, 2014 on BBC One, I thought it best to shed some light on what inspired Daphne du Maurier to write Jamaica Inn in the first place. 

my copy of Jamaica Inn 1936 first edition usa

The very first book of Daphne's that I ever read was Jamaica Inn. During a 15 minute study break in grammar school, I walked straight into the library room, went to the nearest shelf and my eyes began searching. There it was in full cover glory, 'Jamaica Inn' by Daphne du maurier. I picked it up, sat down at the desk and started reading. Immediately, I met Mary Yellan and a place called Helford River where the word 'cornish' changed my world. I was ten years old. When I went home, I asked my mom to buy me a copy of Jamaica Inn and she did. Thus, began my journey into the dark, Gothic, romantic world of Daphne du Maurier.

I was never that fantasy reader of romance novels as a teenager. I did not read Wuthering Heights at 16 years old and sit and dream about Heathcliff and I standing on the moors waxing on about living in our own castle. Instead,I longed to go to Cornwall and find a white cottage by the wild roaring sea of my own!  I longed to fall asleep to the sound of the crashing waves below me just like Rebecca De Winter in Daphne du Maurier's novel, 'Rebecca.' To hear Mrs. Danvers saying to her still, 'Listen to the sea. Even with the windows closed and the shutters fastened I could hear it; a low sullen murmur as the waves broke on the white shingle in the cove.'

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthe ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears,
I hid from Him, and under the running laughter.
Up vistaed slopes I sped
And shot, precipitated
A down Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong feet that followed,
followed after. 
 (The poem is The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson (1859-1907)
Included in chapter four of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Creation of Jamaica Inn
In February 1935, Daphne signed a contract to write a novel for her new publisher, Victor Gollancz, and she had begun to make notes about the inn that utterly captured her imagination. She and her husband Tommy went to Bodmin Moor staying 'miles from the nearest town, and not a sound except curlews and skylarks: it was so lovely.' (Vanishing Cornwall, Daphne du Maurier)

 In November 1930 is when Daphne first visited Jamaica inn on a riding expedition with Foy Quiller-Couch to Bodmin Moor. She said, 'A place that would grip my imagination almost as much as Menabilly.' They arrived at Jamaica Inn at lunchtime, after spending the night at the Royal Hotel in Bodmin. She writes in her diary, 'I want to spend days here.' Daphne and Foy rode horseback across the moor to visit 'old Lady Rodd' at Trebartha Hall and then got lost. In a sudden change of weather, they found shelter in a nearby cottage until the rain let up. Her friend Foy was an experienced horsewoman and suggested once the fog came in that the horses could walk them back to their hotel. Across wet Launceston-Bodmin Road they went until they saw the chimney of Jamaica Inn. Daphne wrote in her diary, 'We sat wearily to our supper and I was immeasurably happy. In an instant fear was forgotten, danger had never been.' She knew at that moment she must write her novel, 'Jamaica Inn.'

 The book description of Jamaica Inn reads, 'The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother's dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn's dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls -- or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions ... tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.'

When Daphne du Maurier finished Jamaica Inn which was her breakthrough novel, she was staying in her beloved Fowey in Cornwall at her home named, 'Ferryside.' Her next novel, however, would be the one to forever associate herself with her beloved Cornwall. Even though, it was written somewhere else very far away...This novel was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Daphne du Maurier's home Ferryside in Cornwall. Now owned and lived in by her grandson

Here is the trailer for BBC One's production of Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn


I haven't read Jamaica Inn but I will soon. I love Rebecca but don't remember that poem at all!
Thanks for another great post!
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Francine,
I hope you enjoy Jamaica Inn as much as I have. Yes, the poem is beautiful.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Kevin Marsh said…
Jamaica Inn is a great literary work.
I went to Jamaica Inn years ago when the main road went past its front door. Now there is a bypass and you have to drive off to visit the Inn. A great idea, as now there is no traffic noise from lorries going past.

Reading this blog has reminded me that years have past since my last visit, so a trip to Cornwall may be next.

Thank you Kimberly for posting.
Kimberly Eve said…
Take lots of photos when you return to Cornwall. I like the idea of no traffic noise. I'm so glad you told me. I hope you get to watch Jamaica Inn this week :)