Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
My Cousin Rachel: Introduction
My Cousin Rachel: Plot Summary
My Cousin Rachel: Detailed Summary & Analysis
My Cousin Rachel: Themes
My Cousin Rachel: Quotes
My Cousin Rachel: Characters
My Cousin Rachel: Symbols
My Cousin Rachel: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Daphne du Maurier
Historical Context of My Cousin Rachel
Other Books Related to My Cousin Rachel
- Full Title: My Cousin Rachel
- Where Written: Cornwall, England
- When Published: 1951
- Literary Period: Modernism
- Genre: Modern Gothic
- Setting: The Ashley estate, somewhere along the Cornish coast in western England; the villa Sangalletti, in Florence, Italy
- Climax: When Philip and Rachel have sex, which occurs in the early morning hours of Philip’s twenty-fifth birthday
- Antagonist: The novel does not have a clear antagonist. Philip, through whose eyes the reader sees the action of the novel, wavers between viewing Rachel as a good woman who has been manipulated by her advisor, Signor Rainaldi, and a scheming villainess. Du Maurier never reveals whether Rachel did, in fact, murder Ambrose Ashley and attempt to do the same to Philip, instead leaving it in the reader’s hands to pronounce judgment on the mysterious Rachel.
- Point of View: First-person
Extra Credit for My Cousin Rachel
Du Maurier: A Director’s Muse. Du Maurier’s writing has long been admired for its “cinematic” quality. Alfred Hitchcock directed film versions of two of du Maurier’s novels, Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. In addition, his 1963 classic, The Birds, is based on du Maurier’s short story of the same name. Most recently, Roger Michell directed a 2017 adaptation of My Cousin Rachel, a character he describes thus: “as exotic as a glass of iced prosecco, as sweet as panettone, as dangerous as a stiletto.”
Walking in Rachel’s Footsteps. The “My Cousin Rachel Walk” is a five-mile trail along the Cornish coastline that encompasses some of the setting of the novel, along several locations central to du Maurier’s Rebecca.