Daphne  du  maurier  :   Biography


Daphne Du Maurier was born in London on 13th May 1907 she was the second daughter of the actor-manager Sir Gerald Du Maurier and granddaughter of artist and writer George Du Maurier. She grew up in a lively London household where friends such as J.M. Barrie and Edgar Wallace visited often. Daphne, with her sisters Angela and Jeanne were educated by a governess before going to schools in London, France and Paris. She wrote from a very early age which was encouraged by her father and she travelled throughout Europe. Her uncle, a magazine editor, published one of her stories when she was a teenager and got her a literary agent.

Du Maurier's love for Cornwall began during her childhood when her family spent their holidays there, eventually buying a second home at Bodinnick-by-Fowey called Ferryside, Daphne stayed there often, usually alone, and this is where she found the freedom she craved.

Her first book, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931 and received rave reviews. It was thanks to this book that she met her future husband, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Arthur Montague Browning II, or 'Boy' as he was known. He sailed to Fowey to meet the author of The Loving Spirit, a book he greatly admired, they fell in love and were married in 1932 at Lanteglos Church. They were happily married for thirty-three years and had three children.

Daphne continued writing, Jamaica Inn, published in 1936, was inspired by a visit at the famous tavern on Bodmin Moor. She went riding and got lost on the moors, she managed to find her way back and wrote the story soon after about a young woman, Mary Yellen, who goes to live with her aunt Patience and uncle Joss Merlyn. She soon learns about the smuggling which is taking place on the coast and her uncle is the leader. The inn is now a famous visitor attraction dedicated to the story.

Rebecca is without doubt Du Mauriers' most famous novel, the opening line, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," sets the scene and is amongst the most memorable in all literature. Menabilly, the house where Du Maurier and her family lived was the setting for Manderley. Frenchman's Creek and Hungry Hill followed before My Cousin Rachel in 1951 in which we are left to make up our own minds whether Rachel killed Ambrose, however Rachel dies, taking the secret with her.

'Boy' died in 1965 and soon after Daphne moved from Menabilly to Kilmarth which was to be the setting for The House on the Strand. Vanishing Cornwall was published in 1967 with her son, Christian and two years later she was made a dame for her literary distinction.

Du Maurier also published many short stories, plays and biographies, The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, the brother of Charlotte, Anne and Emily, in 1960. Her biography of Francis Bacon in 1976 and her autobiography, Growing Pains, was published when she was 70. Many short stories have been published including Not After Midnight, Don't Look Now and The Birds, all of which have been made into successful films as have most of her novels, the most famous being Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock.

Daphne Du Maurier died on April 19, 1989 at Par in Cornwall. Her pictorial memoir, Enchanted Cornwall, was published posthumously in 1992. Since 1997 there has been a festival of arts and literature in Fowey named after Du Maurier to which thousands of people visit and watch shows. There has been many books published about Du Maurier, including one by her daughter, Flavia Leng in 1999.



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