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message 1: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments this from Wikipedia:

Daphne du Maurier was born in London, the second of three daughters of the prominent actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and actress Muriel Beaumont (maternal niece of William Comyns Beaumont). Her grandfather was the author and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, who created the character of Svengali in the novel Trilby.

These connections helped her in establishing her literary career, and du Maurier published some of her very early work in Beaumont's Bystander magazine. Her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931.
Du Maurier was also the cousin of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who served as J.M. Barrie's inspiration for the characters in the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. As a young child, she met many of the brightest stars of the theatre, thanks to the celebrity of her father. On meeting Tallulah Bankhead, she was quoted as saying that the actress was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen.

She married Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick "Boy" Browning, with whom she had two daughters, Tessa and Flavia, and a son, Christian. Biographers have noted that the marriage was at times somewhat chilly and that du Maurier could be aloof and distant to her children, especially the girls, when immersed in her writing. "Boy" died in 1965 and soon after Daphne moved to Kilmarth, near Par, which became the setting for The House on the Strand.

Du Maurier has often been painted as a frostily private recluse who rarely mixed in society or gave interviews.[2] An exception to this came after the release of the film A Bridge Too Far, in which her late husband was portrayed in a less-than-flattering light. Du Maurier, incensed, wrote to the national newspapers, decrying what she considered unforgivable treatment. Once out of the glare of the public spotlight, however, many remembered her as a warm and immensely funny person who was a welcoming hostess to guests at Menabilly, the house she leased for many years (from the Rashleigh family) in Cornwall. Letters from Menabilly contains the letters from du Maurier to Malet over 30 years, with Malet's commentary. (Malet's real name is Auriel Malet Vaughan.)

Daphne du Maurier was a member of the Cornish nationalist pressure group/political party Mebyon Kernow. She was spoofed by her slightly older fellow writer P. G. Wodehouse as "Daphne Dolores Morehead".
Du Maurier died at age 81 at her home in Cornwall, which had been the setting for many of her books. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered at Kilmarth.

After her death in 1989, numerous references were made to her secret bisexuality; an affair with Gertrude Lawrence, as well as her attraction for Ellen Doubleday, the wife of her American publisher, were cited. Du Maurier stated in her memoirs that her father had wanted a son; and, being a tomboy, she had naturally wished to have been born a boy. Her father, unusual for such a prominent theatre personality, was vociferously anti-homosexual. There is some evidence to suggest that Daphne's relationship with her father may have bordered on incest.

In correspondence released by her family for the first time to her biographer, Margaret Forster, du Maurier explained to a trusted few her own unique slant on her sexuality: her personality, she explained, comprised two distinct people—the loving wife and mother (the side she showed to the world) and the lover (a decidedly male energy) hidden to virtually everyone and the power behind her artistic creativity. According to the biography, du Maurier believed the male energy was the demon that fueled her creative life as a writer. Forster maintains that it became evident in personal letters revealed after her death, however, that du Maurier's denial of her bisexuality unveiled a homophobic fear of her true nature.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours List for June 1969, Daphne du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire. She never used the title; and, according to Margaret Forster, she told no one about the honour. Even her children learned of it from the newspapers. "She thought of pleading illness for the investiture, until her children insisted it would be a great day for the older grandchildren. So she went through with it, though she slipped out quietly afterwards to avoid the attention of the press".

Novels, short stories and biographies

Literary critics have sometimes berated du Maurier's works for not being "intellectually heavyweight" like those of George Eliot or Iris Murdoch. By the 1950s, when the socially and politically critical "angry young men" were in vogue, her writing was felt by some to belong to a bygone age. Today, she has been re-appraised as a first-rate storyteller, a mistress of suspense. Her ability to recreate a sense of place is much admired, and her work remains popular worldwide. For several decades she was the most popular author for library book borrowings.

The novel Rebecca, which has been adapted for stage and screen on several occasions, is generally regarded as her masterpiece. One of her strongest influences here was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Her fascination with the Brontë family is also apparent in The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, her biography of the troubled elder brother to the Brontë girls. The fact that their mother had been Cornish no doubt added to her interest.

Other notable works include The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand, and The King's General. The latter is set in the middle of the first and second English Civil Wars. Though written from the Royalist perspective of her native Cornwall, it gives a fairly neutral view of this period of history.

Several of her other novels have also been adapted for the screen, including Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, Hungry Hill, and My Cousin Rachel (1951). The Hitchcock film The Birds (1963) is based on a treatment of one of her short stories, as is the film Don't Look Now (1973). Of the films, du Maurier often complained that the only ones she liked were Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. Hitchcock's treatment of Jamaica Inn involved a complete re-write of the ending, to accommodate the ego of its star, Charles Laughton. Du Maurier also felt that Olivia de Havilland was totally wrong as the (anti-)heroine in My Cousin Rachel. Frenchman's Creek fared rather better with its lavish Technicolor sets and costumes. Du Maurier later regretted her choice of Alec Guinness as the lead in the film of The Scapegoat, which she partly financed.

Du Maurier was often categorised as a "romantic novelist" (a term she deplored),[10] though most of her novels, with the notable exception of Frenchman's Creek, are quite different from the stereotypical format of a Georgette Heyer or a Barbara Cartland novel. Du Maurier's novels rarely have a happy ending, and her brand of romanticism is often at odds with the sinister overtones and shadows of the paranormal she so favoured. In this light, she has more in common with the "sensation novels" of Wilkie Collins et al., which she admired.

Du Maurier's novel Mary Anne (1954) is a fictionalised account of the real-life story of her great-great-grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke née Thompson (1776–1852). From 1803 to 1808, Mary Anne Clarke was mistress of Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827). He was the "Grand Old Duke of York" of the nursery rhyme, a son of King George III and brother of the later King George IV.

In Ken Follett's thriller The Key to Rebecca, du Maurier's novel Rebecca is used as the key for a code used by a German spy in World War II Cairo.

Neville Chamberlain is reputed to have read Rebecca on the plane journey that led to Adolf Hitler signing the Munich Agreement.

The central character of her last novel, Rule Britannia, is an aging and eccentric actress who was based on Gertrude Lawrence and Gladys Cooper (to whom it is dedicated). However, the character is most recognisably du Maurier herself.

Indeed, it was in her short stories that she was able to give free rein to the harrowing and terrifying side of her imagination; "The Birds", Don't Look Now, The Apple Tree and The Blue Lenses are exquisitely crafted tales of terror that shocked and surprised her audience in equal measure. Perhaps more than at any other time, du Maurier was anxious as to how her bold new writing style would be received, not just with her readers (and to some extent her critics, though by then she had grown wearily accustomed to their often luke-warm reviews) but her immediate circle of family and friends.

In later life, she wrote non-fiction, including several biographies that were well received. This, no doubt, came from a deep-rooted desire to be accepted as a serious writer, comparing herself to her neighbour, A. L. Rowse, the celebrated historian and essayist, who lived a few miles away from her house near Fowey.

Also of interest are the "family" novels/biographies that du Maurier wrote of her own ancestry, of which Gerald, the biography of her father, was most lauded. Later she wrote The Glass-Blowers, which traces her French ancestry and gives a vivid depiction of the French Revolution. The du Mauriers is a sequel of sorts, describing the somewhat problematic ways in which the family moved from France to England in the 19th century and finally Mary Anne, the novel based on the life of a notable, and infamous, English ancestor—her great-grandmother Mary Anne Clarke, former mistress of Frederick, Duke of York.

Her final novels reveal just how far her writing style had developed. The House on the Strand (1969) combines elements of "mental time-travel", a tragic love-affair in 14th century Cornwall, and the dangers of using mind-altering drugs. Her final novel, Rule Britannia, written post-Vietnam, plays with the resentment of English people, in general, and Cornish people, in particular, at the increasing dominance of the U.S.

In late 2006, a previously unknown work titled And His Letters Grew Colder was discovered. This was estimated to have been written in the late 1920s and takes the form of a series of letters tracing an adulterous, passionate affair from initial ardour to deflated acrimony.

message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Du Maurier is an extremely interesting character - I have always wanted to do a 'Du Maurier' holiday in Cornwall - I've heard that you can even stay in a cottage on the Menabilly estate, the house that reportedly inspired Manderlay.


message 3: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments I have to admit that I'd REALLY like to do that. I have a St Ives vacation all mapped out in my head - Eden Project, Tate Gallery, St Michael's Mount, Minack Theatre....and now I'm thinking a night or two at Menabilly. Now I've got to convince my friend Nathan that this is all his idea :o)

message 4: by Linda2 (last edited Oct 17, 2010 07:36PM) (new)


I just read this regarding Forster's biography, regarding her own conjectures and imagination:

message 5: by Travis (new)

Travis (travishiltz) I just finished reading 'Jamaica Inn' last week and now this pops up.
Bit spooky.

Interesting articles and I now have a big list of her other work to track down.
That's the curse of goodreads, every time I come here I add five more books to my 'to be read' list.

message 6: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
ooh - I've had Jamaica Inn on my TBR pile for a couple of years now - would you recommend it? - I need reasons to pick it out obove all the other TBR wilderness candidates!


message 7: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 It's really a Gothic romance with little substance.

message 8: by Anouska (new)

Anouska (noosh) | 5 comments Ally wrote: "ooh - I've had Jamaica Inn on my TBR pile for a couple of years now - would you recommend it? - I need reasons to pick it out obove all the other TBR wilderness candidates!


I really enjoyed it. Its not exactly a literary masterpiece, but an enjoyable page turner - dark and a bit tense, as is Du Maurier's specialty!

message 9: by Ivan (last edited Oct 18, 2010 03:10PM) (new)

Ivan | 561 comments Rochelle wrote: "

I just read this regarding Forster's biography, regarding her own conjectures and imagination:"

Well, I just read the piece by Dame Daphne's friend. It just seems to me the lady douth protest too much. One must look at Daphne and concede she is awfully masculine in dress and severe looking - in the same stylish way as Garbo, Dietrich and Hepburn. Is it such a stretch to entertain the thought that she may have been bi-sexual? Perhaps this is something she never chose to share with this particular friend or her children. There's nothing to disprove she was bisexual; and, heaven knows, she could be both bi-sexual and a victim of incest. The point is, who really knows?

message 10: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 That's the point. And who cares?

message 11: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments Well, actually, I care. I write a monthly column on the arts for my local LGBT Community newspaper.

Anyway, here is a link everyone may enjoy:

message 12: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 23 comments That was cool, Ivan. I'm getting more and more excited for November. But first I have to get to Mad World...

message 13: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 Ivan--When I said "Who cares," I meant it wouldn't affect how I feel about anyone as a writer. I read most of duMaurier's work 40 years before I knew anything about her personal life, and I thoroughly enjoyed her as a great storyteller. I can enjoy Roman Polanski's or Woody Allen's work without concerning myself about their personal lives, because they're great artists. Despite the fact that Von Karajan was a member of the Nazi party, he was one of the world's great conductors.

message 14: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments I figured that's what you meant. :o)

message 15: by Linda2 (last edited Oct 19, 2010 11:25PM) (new)

Linda2 We've discussed at some length those writers who were a part of the social and political changes between the wars --Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Mitford, Woolf, even Coward, with his patriotic screenplays. It's interesting that the next book is by a writer who completely divorced her stories from their own time period. There's no clue in any duM novel that relates to any global event of its own period. Rebecca was written on the verge of WWII, (Germany invaded Poland in 1938, and Kristallnacht took place in November) but there's no hint of it in the book. The characters live in their own little world apart from any larger picture.

Most of her other novels are placed in different centuries altogether. duMaurier didn't create any new styles, as did Hemingway and Woolf, Faulkner, Pound and Eliot, was not revolutionary in any literary sense, just a d--- good storyteller.

The only reference I've ever seen that placed one of her books among current events was that the drug the protagonist took in The House on the Strand was obviously LSD, which many young people were using in the '60's and early '70's. Other than that, the book could have been written in 1920 or 1990. Only her very last novel, Rule Britannia, finally connects Britain to a more global picture, although even that is a fantasy.

message 16: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Ooh, neat video. Thanks Ivan. :)

message 17: by Ivan (last edited Oct 20, 2010 11:22AM) (new)

Ivan | 561 comments Thanks Bronwyn.

Rochelle, your take of D du M is spot on. I am not as knowledgeable as you, as I haven't read much by her. I greatly enjoyed her short stories "Don't Look Now," "The Birds" and "Kiss Me Again Stranger." The memoir "Myself when Young" is also quite insular. I think she was rather sheltered as a child, and selfish (which she freely admits), and was most comfortable when alone; or rather perfectly comfortable being alone. I know we're not due to begin discussing the book until November, but I'll go on record as saying I'm enjoying it considerably.

message 18: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 I'm just older, so I've read more. You'll get there, and your knees will go, and your back...

If you want your socks knocked off, watch the 1973 film of Don't Look Now. Roeg's direction is brilliant.

message 19: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments Rochelle wrote: "I'm just older, so I've read more. You'll get there, and your knees will go, and your back...

If you want your socks knocked off, watch the 1973 film of Don't Look Now. Roeg's direction is brilliant."

I've got a copy on DVD - love it!

Anne (On semi-hiatus) (reachannereach) Ivan wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "I'm just older, so I've read more. You'll get there, and your knees will go, and your back...

If you want your socks knocked off, watch the 1973 film of Don't Look Now. Roeg's d..."

I just read the short story and the DVD is in the mail.

message 21: by Ivan (last edited Nov 03, 2011 11:04AM) (new)

Ivan | 561 comments The film is pretty faithful; Dame Daphne liked it very much. There is a rather over-the-top sex scene - prepare yourself [and I am not a prude].

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