Daphne du Maurier
By nava | On July 12, 2012 | Comments (1)
Daphne du Maurier (May 13, 1907 – April 19, 1989) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. She was born 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.
Du Maurier wrote 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.
In her late teens, du Maurier began writing poems and short stories. 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.”
Gaining fame, avoiding publicity
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 to indulge her introvert tendencies at her family nation, Menabilly, on the Cornish coast of Britain.
You may also like: Du Maurier’s Rebecca: A Worthy “Eyre” Apparent
Rebecca and other film adaptations
Rebecca is arguably 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.
A reconsideration of her work
While she was alive, du Maurier often resented the fact that she wasn’t being taken seriously enough as a fine writer; the commercial success of her books worked against her in that way. But modern re-evaluations of her work bestow greater appreciation for her artistry.
Read about Du Maurier’s Writing Habits and Style
Daphne du Maurier never apologized for writing that for its time was 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. Du Maurier died quietly in her sleep in 1989 at her family home, Menabilly, at age 81.
More about Daphne Du Maurier on this site
- Du Maurier’s Rebecca: A Worthy “Eyre” Apparent by Jonathan Yardley
- Words of Wisdom from Daphne Du Maurier
- Best Selling Women: The 1930s
- Dear Literary Ladies: How Can I Celebrate Literary Success?
- Daphne du Maurier: Her Writing Habits and Style by Tony Riches
- Daphne du Maurier obituary (1989)
Major works – Novels
- The Loving Spirit (1931)
- Jamaica Inn (1936)
- Rebecca (1938)
- Frenchman’s Creek (1941)
- Hungry Hill (1943)
- The Scapegoat (1957)
- My Cousin Rachel (1951)
- The Glass-Blowers (1963)
- The Birds and Other Stories (1963)
- The House on the Strand (1969)
- Rule Britannia (1972)
Major works – Plays
- Rebecca (1940 – adaptation of her own novel)
- The Years Between (1945)
- September Tide (1948)
Biographies about Daphne Du Maurier
- Daphne du Maurier: A Daughter’s Memoir by Flavia Leng
- Daphne du Maurier: A Haunted Heiress by Nina Auerbach
- Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller by Margaret Forster
Selected film adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s works
- Jamaica Inn (1939)
- The Birds (1963)
- Rebecca (1940)
- Rebecca (2003)
- Frenchman’s Creek (2006, Masterpiece Theater)
Articles, News, Etc.
- Daphne du Maurier Books Go Digital For Rebecca’s 75th Anniversary
- How Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca
- 12 Genuinely Great Books About May-December Romances
- Du Maurier’s Rebecca Taught me How to Love Literature
- Du Maurier ‘Overlooked’ by Literary Critics, Her Son Says
- In Praise of Daphne du Maurier
- Fowey Tourist Information and Du Maurier Literary Centre – Cornwall, UK
- Jamaica Inn – Home – Launceston, Cornwall, UK
- Daphne du Maurier’s Smugglers Museum – Launceston, Cornwall, UK
See also: Words of Wisdom from Daphne Du Maurier
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