Du Maurier, Daphne

daphne Du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier (1907-1989), born in London, grew up in a creative family, inspiring her to write short stories, novels and plays. Her family’s connection to the literary and theater communities really helped her to get her career underway. She was able to write simple and intriguing works that ranged from romantic to suspenseful. 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 was published in 1931, when she was only 22 years old. The Loving Spirit, set in the early 1800’s, tells the story of four generations of one family, one after the other.

Du Maurier never apologized for writing that, at the time, was quite shocking and bold. Her novels Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, as well as her short story “The Birds” were made into films 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.

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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)

“All autobiography is self-indulgent.”

“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)

“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)

Dame Daphne Du Maurier


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