Tag: Rebecca de Winter

May 14, 2015 / / Main Slate

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(Contains spoilers) 

“I know Mr. de Winter well. I knew his wife too. Before she married she was the beautiful Rebecca Hentridge,” declares Mrs. Van Hopper at the beginning of REBECCA, greatly overstating her familiarity with the de Winters. In Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca has no maiden name, and her familial and social origins are unclear; other characters’ recollections of her fail to capture the true identity of the elusive, complex woman now unable to speak for herself. While the late Rebecca functions as an apparition haunting the second Mrs. de Winter’s imagination, she was based on a real person. Margaret Forster, du Maurier’s biographer, notes that the character was inspired by Jan Ricardo, but provides few details about her, making Jan seem as mysterious and enigmatic as Rebecca. While biographical analyses of novels and films have certain limitations, a closer look at the archival record of Jan’s life sheds light on the making of REBECCA and its famous central characters, and offers new contexts for understanding and appreciating this iconic film.