Review of "Daphne Du Maurier"

published 09/07/2009 | oldchem
Member since : 30/05/2009
Reviews : 410
Members who trust : 0
About me :
Excellent
Pro One of the best authors of the 20th century
Cons None
very helpful
Would you read it again?
Story
Characters
Readability
How does it compare to similar books?

""Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.""

Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier

Any one who has read my book reviews will now just how much I enjoy the work of Daphne Du Maurier - 'Rebecca' has to be in the running for my most favourite book ever.

When you hear of her background it is not really surprising that she became such a great novelist.

Born on 13th May1907 in London into an artistic and prosperous family, she had two sisters - Angela and Jeanne - she was the second daughter and her father,who had wanted a son, encouraged her to dress like a boy, cut her hair short, and adopt an alter ego she named "Eric Avon."
Her father was in fact, Sir Gerald du Maurier - an actor and a manager who later became a writer, one of his works was 'Svengali and Trilby' - DuMaurier actually creating the mad hypnotist, Svengali.

Daphne's mother was also an actress - Muriel Beaumont, and her grandfather was the caricaturist George du Maurier.One of her ancestors was Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of the Duke of York, son of King George III, Mary Anne Clarke's daughter married Louis-Mathurin Busson du Maurier - their son was Daphne's grandfather.

Her younger years were very lively and she grew up in a household who entertained visitors like of J.M. Barrie ( in fact the 'lost boys' in Peter Pan were based on her cousins) and Edgar Wallace. She always had a great love of reading - her favourite authors were Walter Scott, W.M. Thackeray, the Brontë sisters, Oscar Wilde, R.L. Stevenson, Katherine Mansfield, Guy de Maupassant, and Somerset Maugham. I think that the work of the Brontes can be clearly seen as an influence on her writing.

Her teenage years were spent sailing boats, skiing, travelling on the Continent with friends, and writing, she was only in her teens when uncle - a magazine editor - published one of her stories and got her a literary agent.

Her love for Cornwall - that is depicted so much in her works - began during her childhood when her family spent their holidays there. In 1926, the du Mauriers purchased a holiday home called Ferryside in Fowey on the rocky southwestern coast of Cornwall. It was here - when Daphne found the constant entertaining in the family home in London too distracting for her writing - that she persuaded her parents to let her move to.

Daphne Du Maurier began writing short stories in 1928, and in 1931 her first novel, 'The Loving Spirit' ( The title was inspired by lines from an Emily Brontë poem) was published. It received wonderful reviews and brought her to the attention of Major ( later Sir Lieutenant Colonel ) Frederick Arthur Montague Browning II, he loved the book so much that he sailed to Fowey to meet the author - rather like the plots to one of her books, they fell in love and were married in 1932 at Lanteglos Church. They were married for thirty-three years and had three children; Browning ( Boy or Tommy as Daphne called him) died in 1965. Their marriage seemed to be perfect but actually Du Maurier was bi-sexual and in 1947 she fell in love with Ellen Doubleday, the wife of her American publisher, who remained her lifelong friend, and later with the actress Gertrude Lawrence; she often told friends that she kept a ''boy in a box.'' These masculine leanings influenced her novels and stories, which were often dominated by a male narrator.
But there was no doubt that she did love her husband and she was devastated by his death. After his death she wore his shirts, sat at his writing desk, used his pen to answer the hundreds of letters of condolence. She said that she found evenings were the hardest to endure in the months that followed his death saying that she missed - 'the ritual of the hot drink, the lumps of sugar for the two dogs, the saying of prayers - his boyhood habit carried on throughout our married life - the goodnight kiss.'

Daphne continued writing, she wrote a frank biography of her father, Gerald: A Portrait, which was published in 1935 and then Jamaica Inn, published in 1936, which was inspired by a visit to 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.

Rebecca is undoubtedly Du Mauriers' most famous novel - and my favourite - and the theme of the novel - Jealousy - came to Daphne the year she married Frederick "Boy" Browning, he had been engaged before - to glamorous, dark-haired Jan Ricardo. The suspicion that her husband remained attracted to Ricardo haunted Daphne.Jan Ricardo, tragically, died during the Second World War. She threw herself under a train.

The infamous Manderley in Rebecca was based on the house at Menabilly - a seventeenth-century mansion overlooking the sea near Par in Cornwall. Daphne had fallen in love with the house in the 1930's and eventually bought it in 1943. Menabilly was also used as the setting for Frenchman's Creek - I remember vividly sat on the Polkerris beach - just below Menabilly reading this novel in the 1980's and being able to relate so much to the graphic scenery that Du Maurier painted.

In Frenchman's Creek, Du Maurier used the house at Readymoney Cove in Fowey, where the family lived from 1942 - 1943 as the inspiration, and coincidentaly only yesterday this very property was put up for sale for £1.875 million.

As well as her novels Du Maurier also published many short stories, plays and biographies. In the late 1950s, she became very interested in the supernatural and wrote several stories, including , among'The Pool', in which a young girl glimpses a magical world in the woods and 'The Blue Lenses', in which a woman sees everyone around her having the head of an animal. In 1970 appeared her second collection of short stories, Not After Midnight, which included 'Don't Look Now', this was a story in Venice, that involved a psychic old lady, a man with the sixth sense, and a murderous dwarf.

Films of her works include Jamaica Inn 1939 and Rebecca 1940 - both directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Frenchman's Creek 1944, The Years Between 1946, The Hungry Hill 1947, My Cousin Rachel 1952, The Scapegoat 1952, The Birds ( Hitchcock again) 1963 and Don't Look Now 1973.
.
Her long list of publications include the following titles :-

THE LOVING SPIRIT, 1931
I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN, 1932
THE PROGRESS OF JULIUS, 1933
GERALD: A PORTRAIT, 1934
JAMAICA INN, 1936
THE DU MAURIERS, 1937
REBECCA, 1938
HAPPY CHRISTMAS, 1940
REBECCA, 1940
COME WIND, COME WEATHER, 1941
FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, 1941
HUNGRY HILL, 1943
SPRING PICTURE, 1944
THE YEARS BETWEEN, 1944
LONDON AND PARIS, 1945
THE YEARS BETWEEN, 1945
THE KING'S GENERAL, 1946
SEPTEMBER TIDE, 1948
THE PARASITES, 1949
THE YOUNG GEORGE DU MAURIER, 1951 (
MY COUSIN RACHEL, 1951
THE APPLE TREE, 1952
MARY ANNE, 1954
EARLY STORIES, 1954
THE SCAPEGOAT, 1957
THE BREAKING POINT, 1959
THE INFERNAL WORLD OF BRANWELL BRONTË, 1960
THE TREASURY OF DU MAURIER SHORT STORIES, 1960
CASTLE D'OR, 1962 (with Arthur Quiller-Couch)
THE GLASS BLOWERS, 1963
THE FLIGHT OF THE FALCON, 1965
VANISHING CORNWALL, 1967
THE HOUSE ON THE STRAND, 1969
NOT AFTER MIDNIGHT, 1971
RULE BRITANNIA, 1972
GOLDEN LADS, 1975
THE BREAKTHROUGH, 1976 (television play)
THE WINDING STAIR: FRANCIS BACON, HIS RISE AND FALL, 1976
ECHOES FROM THE MACABRE, 1976
GROWING PAINS: THE SHAPING OF A WRITER / MYSELF WHEN YOUNG, 1977
FOUR GREAT CORNISH NOVELS, 1978
THE RENDEZVOUS, AND OTHER STORIES, 1980
THE "REBECCA" NOTEBOOK, AND OTHER MEMORIES, 1981
CLASSICS OF THE MACABRE, 1987

Daphne Du Maurier was awarded the National Book Award in 1938 for Rebecca, inn 1969 she was made a Dame of the British Empire and in 1977 she was awarded the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

After the death of her husband Daphne lease on Menabilly expired and she was forced to move to a Kilmarth.This was an old historic house that she immortalised in the novel The House on the Strand.
It was also where she lived a.quiet reclusive life with her memories until her death in 1989.
After her death her ashes were scattered on the cliffs near her home at Kilmarth, so she never had to leave her beloved Cornwall.

Daphne Du Maurier is still one of Britain's - if not the worlds - favourite authors, she was not just a novelist but also a playwright, nonfiction writer and editor. I see her as one of the finest suspense authors of the 20th century. Most of her novels fall into the suspense category, some as chilling as anything composed by Edgar Allen Poe.


"I walked this land with a dreamer's freedom and with a waking man's perception - places, houses whispered to me their secrets and shared with me their sorrows and their joys. And in return I gave them something of myself a few of my novels passing into the folk-lore of this ancient place."
Daphne du Maurier, 1907-1989

Summary: "in strange and eerie fashion we are at one, the house and I."

Community evaluation

This review was read 3252 times and was rated at
81% :
> How to understand evaluation of this review
very helpful

Comments on this review

  • Colenso published 15/10/2009
    Completely, absolutely agree. Du Maurier is one of the greats. I first read Jamaica Inn as a child and was bowled over; went on to read almost all her novels and short stories, most of which we have on our shelves, but as you say, it is Rebecca where she really makes her mark. ""Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again ..." Perhaps the greatest opening line of any novel I have ever read. Love the wonderful photo of her you have included. What a really superb review - you've made my day!
  • arnoldhenryrufus published 12/07/2009
    nice review - lyn x
  • flyingllamas published 10/07/2009
    Great review, enthusiastic and interesting.
  • Did you find this review interesting? Do you have any questions? Sign into your Ciao account to leave the author a comment. Log in

offers "Daphne Du Maurier"

Most popular similar products

Product Information : Daphne Du Maurier

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Type: Writer's corner

Genre: Authors

Author: Daphne Du Maurier

Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 07/08/2007