13 Mar 2013

Born this day - Daphne du Maurier

When I was younger I read most of Daphne's novels - Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, and of course watched  the film Rebecca over and over - it still remains one of my favourite films.  She wrote a particularly fine book about Vanishing Cornwall too.

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).[1] 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.

Du Maurier has often been painted as a frostily private recluse who rarely mixed in society or gave interviews.[18] 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.[19] 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,[5] the house she leased for many years (from the Rashleigh family) in Cornwall. Letters from Menabilly contains the letters from du Maurier to Oriel Malet over 30 years, with Malet's commentary. (Malet's real name is Auriel Malet Vaughan.)
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.

Du Maurier died aged 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


But luxury has never appealed to me,
I like simple things,
books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.

1907 - 1989