Daphne du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier by Dorothy Wilding

Daphne du Maurier (May 13, 1907 – April 19, 1989) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. Seborn in London and grew up in a creative family, inspiring her to begin her writing career at an early age. Her family’s connection to the literary and theater communities was helpful in getting her career underway. She wrote direct, intriguing works with elements of romance and suspense. These ‘simple’ works were sometimes criticized because they were seen as lacking depth or intellect, a view that has since been revised.

She began writing poems and short stories in her late teens, and her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931, when she was only 22 years old. Set in the early 1800’s, it tells the story of four generations of one family. It was followed closely by I’ll Never be Young Again, which the author herself dismissed as “rather woman’s magazine-y.”

As she gained fame, du Maurier remained down to earth, and did her best to avoid publicity. “I can’t say I really like people,” she once said, “Perhaps that’s why I always preferred to create my own instead of mixing with real ones.” She was able indulge her introvert tendencies at her family nation, Menabilly, on the Cornish coast of Britain.

Daphne du Maurier never apologized for writing that for its time, was quite daring and sometimes considered rather shocking. She believed in the capacity of each human for evil as well as good, and many of her main characters struggle with that choice.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier vintage coverHer novels Rebecca,  Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachelas well as her short story “The Birds” were made into films. Altogether, six of her novels were made into films, many by Alfred Hitchcock. Rebecca is Du Maurier’s best-known novel; this gothic tale has inspired a legion of works by other writers, and is itself an homage (intended or not) to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Du Maurier drew upon on her experience with her own husband, who could not let go of his departed wife. Rebecca was an instant best-seller, and the basis of the classic 1940 film of the same title starring Joan Fontaine and Lawrence Olivier.

Daphne du Maurier died quietly in her sleep at her family home, Menabilly, at age 81.

More about Daphne Du Maurier on this site

Major works – Novels

Major works – Plays

  • Rebecca  (1940 – adaptation of her own novel)
  • The Years Between  (1945)
  • September Tide  (1948)

Biographies about Daphne Du Maurier

More Information

Selected film adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s works

Articles, News, Etc.


Daphne Du Maurier Quotes

daphne du maurier“Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.”

“Women want love to be a novel. Men, a short story.”

“When one is writing a novel in the first person, one must be that person.”

“He was like someone sleeping who woke suddenly and found the world…all the beauty of it, and the sadness too. The hunger and the thirst. Everything he had never thought about or known was there before him, and magnified into one person who by chance, or fate–call it what you will–happened to be me.” (My Cousin Rachel, 1951)

“The point is, life has to be endured, and lived. But how to live it is the problem.” (My Cousin Rachel, 1951)

“I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“Sometimes it’s a sort of indulgence to think the worst of ourselves. We say, ‘Now I have reached the bottom of the pit, now I can fall no further,’ and it is almost a pleasure to wallow in the darkness. The trouble is, it’s not true. There is no end to the evil in ourselves, just as there is no end to the good. It’s a matter of choice. We struggle to climb, or we struggle to fall. The thing is to discover which way we’re going.”

“When she smiled it was as though she embraced the world.” (The Birds & Other Stories, 1952)

“Every moment was a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.” (Rebecca, 1938)

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

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“We are all ghosts of yesterday, and the phantom of tomorrow awaits us alike in sunshine or in shadow, dimly perceived at times, never entirely lost.” (Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer, 1978)

Dame Daphne Du Maurier

“She knew that this was happiness, this was living as she had always wished to live.” (Frenchman’s Creek , 1942)

“I thought of all those heroines of fiction who looked pretty when they cried, and what a contrast I must make with a blotched and swollen face, and red rims to my eyes.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“I might say that we have paid for freedom. But I have had enough melodrama in this life, and would willingly give my five senses if they could ensure us our present peace and security. Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind of course we have on moments of depression; but there are other moments too, when time, unmeasured by the clock, runs on into eternity.” (Rebecca, 1938)

“There is no going back in life, no return, no second chance. I cannot call back the spoken word or the accomplished deed.” (My Cousin Rachel, 1951)



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