Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier is a period novel first published in 1936. It was set in Cornwall in 1820, inspired by the author’s stay at the real Jamaica Inn in 1930. The inn still exists in Cornwall.
Jamaica Inn tells the story of young Mary Yellan who went to live with her aunt in Cornwall after her mother’s death in a farm in Helford. Her living condition changed drastically and she had to navigate through the danger and darkness to find happiness and freedom again.
Read An introduction to Jamaica Inn written by Bidisha hosted at the British Library for an exploration of some of the main themes in the novel, namely violence, love and desire.
I find Jamaica Inn a lot more appealing than Rebecca or Wuthering Heights.
1. Movie Adaptation – 1939
Produced in 1939 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Maureen O’Hara played Mary Yellan, the female protagonist.
One major deviation from the novel is the replacement of Vicar Francis Davey with Sir Humphrey Pengallan. I am not sure the switch worked for me. Maybe it worked for the 1930s audience.
I don’t think the film captured the spirit and feel of the book. It probably wasn’t Hitchcock’s intention to be faithful to the story and characters. No wonder Dame du Maurier wasn’t happy.
2. Television Adaptation – 1983
An ITV television series aired in 1983. This adaptation was nearer the original story than the Hitchcock film. Mary Yellan was played by a young beautiful Jane Seymour.
3. Television Adaptation – 2014
Jamaica Inn was dramatized again for television in 2014 by BBC One. A 5-episode mini-series. It starred Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew McNulty and Sean Harris.
It is available on Amazon Prime Video.
4. Radio Drama
5. Audiobook – 1983
An abridged version read by Trevor Eve. He acted as Jeremiah (Jem) in the 1983 television series.
Featured image source: Kenneth Allen / Jamaica Inn / CC BY-SA 2.0