Daphne du Maurier
British writer
Daphne du Maurier
Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning DBE was an English author and playwright. Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca and Jamaica Inn and the short stories The Birds and Don't Look Now. The first three were directed by [[Alfred Hitchcock], the latter by [[Nicolas Roeg|Alfred Hitchcock], the latter by Nicolas Roeg. Her elder sister was the writer Angela du Maurier. Her father was the actor Gerald du Maurier. Her grandfather was the writer George du Maurier.
Biography
Daphne du Maurier's personal information overview.
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    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1989
    Age 81
    Du Maurier died on 19 April 1989, aged 81, at her home in Cornwall, which had been the setting for many of her books.
    More Details Hide Details Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered at Kilmarth.
  • 1969
    Age 61
    When in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for June 1969 Daphne du Maurier was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, she accepted but never used the title.
    More Details Hide Details According to Margaret Forster, she told no one about the honour, so that even her children learned of it only from the newspapers. "She thought of pleading illness for the investiture, until her children insisted it would be a great day for the older grandchildren. So she went through with it, though she slipped out quietly afterwards to avoid the attention of the press." Shortly after Rebecca was published in Brazil, critic Álvaro Lins (pt) and other readers pointed out many resemblances to the 1934 book, A Sucessora (The Successor), by Brazilian writer Carolina Nabuco. According to Nabuco and her editor, not only the main plot, but also situations and entire dialogues had been copied. Du Maurier denied having copied Nabuco's book, as did her publisher, pointing out that the plot elements used in Rebecca said to have been plagiarized were quite common.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1963
    Age 55
    When Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds was released in 1963, based on du Maurier's story, Baker considered, but was advised against, pursuing costly litigation against Universal Studios.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1943
    Age 35
    In the summer of 1943, she began writing the autobiographically inspired drama The Years Between about the unexpected return of a senior officer, thought killed in action, who finds that his wife has taken his seat as Member of Parliament and has started a romantic relationship with a local farmer.
    More Details Hide Details It was first staged at the Opera House, Manchester in 1944 and then transferred to London, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 10 January 1945, starring Nora Swinburne and Clive Brook. The production, directed by Irene Hentschel, became a long-running hit, completing 617 performances. After 60 years of neglect, it was revived by Caroline Smith at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond upon Thames on 5 September 2007, starring Karen Ascoe and Mark Tandy. Better known is her third play, September Tide, about a middle-aged woman whose bohemian artist son-in-law falls for her. The central character of Stella was originally based on Ellen Doubleday and was merely what Ellen might have been in an English setting and in a different set of circumstances. Again directed by Irene Hentschel, it opened at the Aldwych Theatre on 15 December 1948 with Gertrude Lawrence as Stella, enjoying a run of 267 performances before closing at the beginning of August 1949.
  • 1940
    Age 32
    Daphne du Maurier wrote three plays. Her first was an adaptation of her novel Rebecca, which opened at the Queen's Theatre in London on 5 March 1940 in a production by George Devine, starring Celia Johnson and Owen Nares as the De Winters and Margaret Rutherford as Mrs. Danvers.
    More Details Hide Details At the end of May, following a run of 181 performances, the production transferred to the Strand Theatre, with Jill Furse taking over as the second Mrs De Winter and Mary Merrall as Mrs Danvers, with a further run of 176 performances.
  • 1938
    Age 30
    In the U.S. she won the National Book Award for favourite novel of 1938, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association.
    More Details Hide Details In the UK, it was listed at number 14 of the "nation's best loved novel" on the BBC's 2003 survey The Big Read. Other significant works include The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand, and The King's General. The last is set in the middle of the first and second English Civil War, written from the Royalist perspective of her adopted Cornwall. Several of her other novels have also been adapted for the screen, including Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, Hungry Hill, and My Cousin Rachel (1951). The Hitchcock film The Birds (1963) is based on a treatment of one of her short stories, as is the film Don't Look Now (1973). Of the films, du Maurier often complained that the only ones she liked were Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. Hitchcock's treatment of Jamaica Inn was disavowed by both director and author, due to a complete re-write of the ending to accommodate the ego of its star, Charles Laughton. Du Maurier also felt that Olivia de Havilland was wrongly cast as the anti-heroine of My Cousin Rachel. Frenchman's Creek fared rather better in a lavish Technicolor version released in 1944. Du Maurier later regretted her choice of Alec Guinness as the lead in the film of The Scapegoat, which she partly financed.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1932
    Age 24
    She married Major (later Lieutenant-General) Frederick "Boy" Browning in 1932, with whom she had three children:
    More Details Hide Details Biographers have noted that the marriage was at times somewhat chilly and that du Maurier could be aloof and distant to her children, especially the girls, when immersed in her writing. Her husband died in 1965 and soon after Daphne moved to Kilmarth, near Par, Cornwall, which became the setting for The House on the Strand. Du Maurier has often been painted as a frostily private recluse who rarely mixed in society or gave interviews. An exception to this came after the release of the film A Bridge Too Far, in which her late husband was portrayed in a less-than-flattering light. Incensed, she wrote to the national newspapers, decrying what she considered unforgivable treatment. Once out of the glare of the public spotlight, however, many remembered her as a warm and immensely funny person who was a welcoming hostess to guests at Menabilly, the house she leased for many years (from the Rashleigh family) in Cornwall.
  • 1931
    Age 23
    Her family connections helped her in establishing her literary career, and du Maurier published some of her early work in Beaumont's Bystander magazine. Her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931.
    More Details Hide Details Du Maurier was also the cousin of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who served as J. M. Barrie's inspiration for the characters in the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. As a young child, she met many of the brightest stars of the theatre, thanks to the celebrity of her father. On meeting Tallulah Bankhead, she was quoted as saying that the actress was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. The novel Rebecca (1938) became one of du Maurier's most successful works. It was an immediate hit on its publication, went on to sell nearly 3 million copies between 1938 and 1965, has never gone out of print, and has been adapted for both stage and screen several times.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1907
    Born
    Born on May 13, 1907.
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