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A literary discovery from the 1920s

It was both a little surprising but also perhaps a sign of the times to learn by chance recently that the BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow programme – now occupying the 8.00pm transmission slot on Sunday evenings – is celebrating its fortieth anniversary in this year.

I open with that statement  mindful that, as without doubt an (unofficial) national institution – it somehow feels as if it should have featured in the schedule of the first-ever BBC television broadcast on 2nd November 1936 – the fact that I can also remember its early beginning with presenter Bruce Parker and then the iconic Arthur Negus et al. with near-perfect clarity is stark and indeed mildly-unwelcome reminder of my own longevity. It makes me want to shake my head in a mix of wonder and disbelief.

Regular visitors to this website will also be aware of my devotion to the novels of Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) and from time to time may have read the accounts of the expeditions over the years that I and other Rusters have mounted to visit the places and areas of her beloved Cornwall that meant most to her.

One of the attractions of Antiques Roadshow, apart from its easy-to-watch, feel-good atmosphere, are those occasions when the ‘expert of the moment’ either becomes animated – or alternatively does his or her best to button-up their real emotions in building up the anticipation – upon coming across an object of great interest and/or value brought in by a visitor, often completely by chance.

I bring the two aforementioned subjects together today, not because they are directly related, but because it is always exciting to ‘rediscover’ items of great interest and/or potential importance.

As recently as 2011 the discovery of a collection of Daphne du Maurier’s early short stories, written in her late teens or early twenties – either ‘lost’ or forgotten – gave new insights into her later writing style. Her son Kit Browning described one of them – The Doll – about a young woman’s obsession with a male sex doll – as “Quite ahead of its time”.

Today I spotted this piece by Sebastian Murphy-Bates, reporting upon the recent discovery of two du Maurier poems from about the same period, upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL



About Melanie Gay

A former literary agent with three published novels of her own, Melanie retains her life-long love of the written word and recently mastered the Kindle. She is currently writing a historical novel set in 17th Century Britain and Holland. More Posts