Some of you may already know that Simon at Savidge Reads and Polly at Novel Insights are hosting Discovering Daphne this October, a whole month dedicated to Daphne du Maurier. How can I not participate in this wonderful event when Daphne is one of my favorite authors? That said, there are still a few of her novels that I have yet to read so I hope to read at least one of them this month. I would also love to reread Rebecca sometime soon. So to help participate in this event, I plan to repost excerpts from some of my previous posts about her books.
From a blog post dated April 29, 2010:
Daphne du Maurier is certainly one case where the author's life is just as fascinating as her books. On the surface, Daphne can be said to have led a charmed life. She was born in 1907 into a lively and artistic family. Her father was the actor/manager Sir Gerald du Maurier who also wrote the classic novel, Trilby. Her mother, Muriel Beaumont, was an actress. Daphne grew up in a large and happy London household where friends such as J.M.Barrie and Edgar Wallace visited often. She was only a teenager when her uncle, a magazine editor, published one of her stories and got her a literary agent. In 1932 Daphne married Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Browning II, who was knighted for his service in World War II. They were married for thirty-three years and had three children. They lived in a fabulous house in Cornwall called Menabilly which was the inspiration for the Manderley house in Rebecca. Daphne du Maurier was made a dame in 1969 for her literary distinction. She died in 1989.
Though it does seem like she led a charmed life there is evidence that Daphne had an unhappy marriage where both parties were unfaithful. In 1947 Daphne fell in love with Ellen Doubleday, the wife of her American publisher, who remained her lifelong friend, She also had an affair with the actress Gertrude Lawrence. Her bisexuality was only disclosed after her death and is portrayed in the BBC film, Daphne. Interestingly enough, it was also recently revealed that she has a moratorium on her adolescent diaries. They can only be opened fifty years after her death. There's speculation that the diaries expose a young adolescent affair with a married man or maybe not. Kits, Daphne's son, believes that it's just filled with mundane stuff. "I think it's a tease," he said. "She loved mystery." You can read more about this at a Times Online article here.
For those interested, I also found a interesting article about how she wrote Rebecca (link here) at the Telegraph website. Below are some pictures of Daphne du Maurier.
Daphne with her son Kits
Daphne with her husband and three children
Daphne writing at her desk in 1944 at Menabilly, the house in Cornwall which was made famous by her 1938 masterpiece Rebecca