The Forgotten Friendships, Hidden Stories & Lost Loves Found In Second-Hand Books · Compiled by W. B. Gooderham
“I picked up the book again, and this time it opened at the title-page, and I read the dedication. ‘Max – from Rebecca. 17 May,’ written in a curious slanting hand. A little blob of ink marred the white page opposite, as though the writer, in impatience, had shaken her pen to make the ink flow freely. And then as it bubbled through the nib, it came a little thick, so that the name Rebecca stood out black and strong, the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters… I could see her turning to that first white page, smiling as she wrote, and shaking the bent nib. Max from Rebecca. It must have been his birthday, and she had put it amongst her other presents on the breakfast table. And they had laughed together as he tore off the paper and string. She leant, perhaps, over his shoulder, while he read. Max. She called him Max. It was familiar, gay, and easy on the tongue. The family could call him Maxim if they liked. Grandmothers and aunts. And people like myself, quiet and dull and youthful, who did not matter. Max was her choice, the word was her possession; she had written it with so great a confidence on the fly-leaf of that book. That bold slanting hand, stabbing the white paper, the symbol of herself, so certain, so assured.”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Or, put simply, a load of inscriptions I’ve found written inside second-hand books.
Or, put less-simply, here’s a piece I wrote about it for The Guardian: