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. 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.

Early work

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.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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.

In addition to 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.

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.

Best-selling author Daphne du Maurier

Read about Du Maurier’s Writing Habits and Style

Daphne believed in the capacity of each individual for evil as well as good, and many of her main characters struggle with that choice. Perhaps that’s one of the factors that make her books so timeless. Many believe that she didn’t get the respect due her as a dedicated and talented writer.

Du Maurier died quietly in her sleep in 1989 at her family home, Menabilly, at age 81.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier page on Amazon

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

See also: Words of Wisdom from Daphne Du Maurier

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