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Daphne du Maurier

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  908 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Rebecca, published in 1938, brought its author instant international acclaim, capturing the popular imagination with its haunting atmosphere of suspense and mystery. du Maurier was immediately established as the queen of the psychological thriller. But the more fame this and her other books encouraged, the more reclusive Daphne du Maurier became.

Margaret Forster's award-wi
Paperback, 455 pages
Published May 5th 1994 by Arrow (first published September 1st 1993)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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In The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett has his main character, Queen Elizabeth II, reflect that authors are "probably best met within the pages of their novels" and are "as much creatures of the reader's imagination as the characters in their books". There’s wisdom in that attitude. It’s quite possible that I’d be disappointed if I encountered one of my favourite novelists at a dinner party and that experience might colour how I react to their writing in the future. And yet, I still find myself dr
I picked up this biography a few years ago from the discard shelf of my local library. How sad! Published in 1993, it seems it should still be relevant. Even if all Du Maurier ever wrote was Rebecca, that's still impressive, isn't it? makes her worthy of today's library shelves? I didn't know much about her but her list of titles--novels, plays, short stories, family and historical biographies--is long. Still the biography sat on my stack of unread books for a couple years.

A few months ago I cam
Beth Bonini
I read Forster’s biography immediately after reading the more recently published book Manderley Forever. Author Tatiana de Rosnay did a rather bold thing by writing her novel in the present tense; not quite getting inside the skin of ‘Daphne’ by giving her protagonist the first-person voice, but still presenting the events of Daphne du Maurier’s life as if she (and the reader) were eyewitnesses. It’s an interesting and entertaining read, but in many ways I felt it did not manage to make the real ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very clear, insightful biography of the author, with emphasis on her inner turmoil as she continually attempted to balance the needs of the outside world - society, family, husband's career needs, friends and confidantes - with the constant need to write. This is a dilemma felt by many writers, that in order to write, there's a need for long periods of solitude to think, reason, plan, research, write and re-write. I emphasize that this is not merely a desire, but a need, and one which most nonwr ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads, biography
A very complete, no holds barred biography about an author whose novels I have long admired.

Forster had access to hundreds of family and friend letters, as well as being able to interview those close to Du Maurier. Her written portrait of Daphne paints a woman both brilliant and conflicted in her sexuality, her marriage, her role as a mother and her overriding need to express all these inner conflicts through her writing. Forster not only sketches the life history of Du Maurier (which is fascina
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
You might be wondering, what could be so great about a midcentury English author and housewife to warrant a full biography. Reader, you won't know what hit you. I kind of don't want to spoil this book by talking about du Maurier's life, it's better to just jump in. For someone who stayed home a lot, she sure had a lot of "adventures".
Kaethe Douglas
Oct 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, suspense
I was content to look at the pictures; I'm afraid to learn stuff that will just annoy me
Carla Remy
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-and-autobio
It seems sad in these more modern times (when no one would care) that, in her time (born in 1907) Daphne Du Maurier felt she couldn't just be gay. She was clearly a lesbian (though she hated the word) who repressed it, had three kids, and then had a lot of anger and confusion about it her whole life. She was a real writer and it was just lucky that she was beautiful and had a famous name (her grandpa George wrote Trilby etc). It was so interesting to read that when she wrote My Cousin Rachel (wh ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is overall a well done and exhaustive biography, pulling out a lot of interesting factors, events and people in Daphne du Maurier’s life and relating them to her work. If you’re interested in Daphne du Maurier it’s definitely worth a read — I’m not a super fan, personally, though I’ve read a couple of her books, and I found it pretty interesting and found myself really wanting to reread her books with some of this in mind (especially Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel).

I didn’t end up actually fi
Apr 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting and thoroughly researched read. However I found it diminished rather than enhanced my view of Daphne Du Maurier and her oeuvre. Her was a woman who lived to write and wrote to live and everyone and everything apart from perhaps Menabilly took a second place to that. It is easier I suppose to accept as a modern day reader to accept her conflicted sexuality but not so easy to accept her self confessed disinterest in her children and laterally her grandchildren. She also ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a pleasant read – as good as any novel about a strange, elusive woman who happened to have written a lot of books, have a desire to be a recluse and whose inner life was often a struggle between different personalities.

I had recently seen a BBC production about Daphne du Maurier, and having read some of her books and being fascinated by the era she belonged to as well as the area she lived in, I was curious to explore her life further. And what capable hands her life is in in those of M
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes non-fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Paperback Swap
This biography explores the motivations behind Daphne du Maurier's numerous spellbinding works. In a prolific writing career that began in 1931 with The Loving Spirit and subsequently spanned fifty years, the portrait that emerges is that of a woman constantly at odds with herself. Her various literary achievements coupled with a drive to succeed often conflicted with her role as a wife and a mother.

Access to Daphne's personal correspondence has allowed the author to reveal such private details
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent biography by a superb writer.

Margaret Forster explores Daphne du Maurier's background and details her sometimes difficult relationship with her famour father, Gerald, before examining Daphne's complex and intriguing character.

She has the co-operation of Daphne's family so every little aspect of her life is looked at in detail and nothing is ignored; her troubled marriage to 'Boy' Browning and how she battled to keep it going, her various love affairs and how she handled Daphne No1 a
Marguerite Kaye
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
In many ways, Daphne du Maurier is as unlikeable as the heroines of some of her greatest books, but in the same ways, she's also compelling. This was an excellent bio, candid without being lurid, enquiring without going too wildly astray into the author's own theories. As a writer, I'm always fascinated by where other writers get their ideas from and how they go about writing. Du Maurier was a major and detailed plotter, keeping immense amounts of notes and diaries, and only writing (save one bo ...more
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something faintly disconcerting about the stripping away of someone’s private life in non-fiction writing. Reading not even between the lines, the vision you get of Daphne du M is that she was rather a self-absorbed and even a rather selfish character. She lived a fairly sheltered and privileged life, and indeed seemed more preoccupied with remaining the inhabitant of the house of Menabilly than with her own children. She certainly wasn’t particularly maternal or sociable. She was somet ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent woman, writer and biography. At times totally heartbreaking as we see the writer whose full life is hollow when she cannot create.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Took me a while to get into, with a hard character to sell, but a really well written and good biography, which flowed very well.

The trouble is Daphne seems to be a bit of a dick! Suffering from her own issues over her sexuality and worries about financial ruin, Daphne is selfish, and despite sometimes having good intentions, finds it hard to be an affectionate wife or mother. She spends half her life running away from her family through holidays abroad with friends of lovers, and the other hal
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this book in a charity shop and picked it up because Rebeccas has been one of my favorite books, and I was curious if this book would delve any deeper into the mystique of the author. To my pleasure, it did, and Forster did not hold back.

Her descriptions of du Maurier were based off of letters. Lots of letters. She was a prolific letter writer and her letters gave candid insight into her mentality and thought process. I appreciated that Forester didn't portray her in a favorable light -
The Reader
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I usually find biographies pretty hard going and tend to give up a chapter or so in (I think this is only the second one I've managed to finish) but this one was different: well written, not the least bit boring and full of genuine empathy for du Maurier who, as it turns out, was quite a piece of work. Very matter-of-fact about her various biases and prejudices; du Maurier is taken in context as a product of her time and class. So far the only biography which hasn't ruined the subject for me!
Iza Brekilien
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I read it a couple ago, it's not my favourite book about Daphne du Maurier, but still it was full of informations.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great fun to spend 400 pages in the company of this genuine eccentric woman. Her prolific letters and diaries made the biographer's task easy. I find myself for the first time grateful for You Tube-- where I could see a bit of film of Daphne still in her prime, while reading the last few sad pages of crotchety old age.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers who've enjoyed her writing
I enjoyed this very much - Forster is a writer whose other work I've liked, and De Maurier was an interesting, complex person who Forster does a great job of interpreting. du Maurier's family cooperated fully and she lived in the era when letters flourished.

She grew up in an artistic family. Her grandfather was the writer and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, best known for the novel Trilby. Her father was the actor-manager Gerald du Maurier who happened to be brother of Sylvia Llewelyn Davie
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful biography of life of the very complex writer Daphne Du Maurier. Drawing from original letters, documents and interviews with family and friends this biography tells the story of a complicated and tormented woman, who felt at odds with the world her whole life. Born Into a theatrical family and the granddaughter of another famous novelist, Daphne Du Maurier had from all outward aspects a charmed upbringing, but nothing is at it appears on the surface. The book takes an unflinching look ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Forster has given us a well research and well written portrayal of du Maurier. She shows us the story of this oft troubled, conflicted writer who never gained sufficient self-confidence to understand her own level of genius and creativity. Daphne, the child, was the darling of her dad and never developed a proper mother-daughter relationship, yet her relationship with her dad was not totally healthy as she so wanted to be his good and proper son. This may have led to a deeply rooted conflict whi ...more
A meticulously researched book which charts this well known and popular author's somewhat unusual, and at times surprisingly unconventional life from her childhood untill her death.
I became immersed in this biography, which was very well I had expected from it's author.
It was fascinating to read about the actual writing of du Maurier's books in such depth, and to learn of how many of them were inspired by real life people, places and events, and of how she returns time and time aga
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I must confess I have not read any of Daphne De Mauriers books, all I knew of her was through the Dirk Bogarde Autobiography's, in which she had made her disatifactio0n with Dirks portrayal of her husband ‘boy browning’
This book was given to me by my Mother… I think it was a sign from her that she was trying to understand my sexuality. I read the book keenly wanting to know how this lady had dealt with the demons we all have to face. It is a wonderfully written book, the family co-operated fully
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daphne Du Maurier is a fascinating study. A woman way ahead of her time. An artist who was as dark and complex as her female characters. The Du Muarier family were all as interesting and as talented in other art forms as she was in the literary world. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and would recommend it.
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set during the years between the "Rebecca" trial and the writing of Du Maurier's short story "The Birds", including her relationship with her husband Frederick 'Boy' Browning, and her largely unrequited infatuations with American publishing tycoon's wife Ellen Doubleday and the actress Gertrude Lawrence.
Ant Koplowitz
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written biography of one of the world's literary greats. Margaret Forster's compassion for her subject comes through, but never to the extent that she avoids being critical when necessary. This really is the seminal work on du Maurrier.

I loved this book.

© Koplowitz 2012
Eternally  Dreaming of Libraries
Hello! This is my long overdue book discussion/review of Margaret Forster's biography of one of my favorite authors ever, Daphne du Maurier! Let's dive right in!

When I first came across this book in the summer of 2014, I absolutely couldn't believe it had never occurred to me to read a book about du Maurier's life even though I'd been obsessed with her for ages. It was only when I came across this same book this past summer in June at a Goodwill for the brilliant price of three bucks that I deci
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Retro Reads: Group Read January 2019. Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster 22 15 Feb 13, 2019 10:50AM  

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Margaret Forster was educated at the Carlisle and County High School for Girls. From here she won an Open Scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford where in 1960 she was awarded an honours degree in History.

From 1963 Margaret Forster worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to Radio 4 and various newpapers and magazin

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