Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907, the second daughter of Muriel and Gerald du Maurier, one of the most famous Actor Managers of his day. Daphne Du Maurier attended schools in London, Meudon, France, and Paris. In her childhood she read many books, and was fascinated by imaginary worlds.
Her parents purchased a holiday home at Bodinnick near Fowey, and so began her love of Cornwall. She started to write short stories in 1928. In the end she wrote 38 books, and it is her Cornish-based books that remain the most popular and well known.
Whilst staying at that house (called Ferryside today) she wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit (published in 1931). A story set in the fictitious town of Plyn, it concerns the lives of Cornish boat builders. It was apparently this book that brought Daphne and her future husband together. Major Tommy ('Boy') Browning was so moved by the book that he sailed to Fowey to meet the author. They fell in love and in July 1932 were married at Lanteglos Church.
On a cold day in 1930 Daphne du Maurier stayed at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. This gave her the inspitation for perhaps her most famous a novel which was dramatised in 1936 by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Maureen O’Hara and then remade in 1982 starring Jane Seymour.
During the first ten years of their marriage Daphne only spent holidays in Cornwall. Daphne du Maurier and her husband, by now Major-General Sir Frederick Browning moved to Cornwall in 1943 with their three children (one son and two daughters ). She rented a house in Fowey called Readymoney. Years before this she had discovered Menabilly, a seventeenth-century mansion overlooking the sea, and belonging to the Rashleigh family. Once she lived in Cornwall she asked the family if she could rent the property. They agreed, she got a 25 year lease, and in 1943 she moved into the house which was to inspiration for Rebecca's opening line, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," among the most memorable in twentieth-century and the novel is set in Menabilly.
Her most famous works include Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel and of course Jamaica Inn.
Some of her books were turned into very successful films.Jamaica Inn , Rebecca ( a literary classic and was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's Oscar-winning film) are available on DVD.
Her husband, died in 1965, and when the lease on Menabilly expired in 1969 she moved to another house rented to her by the Rashleigh family, Kilmarth about a mile from Menabilly. She was named a Dame of the British Empire in 1969.
Kilmarth was owned by a medieval steward named Roger Kylman in 1327 and subsequently by the Rashleighs. It here that she lived out the rest of her life, a house that she immortalised in the novel The House on the Strand.
Daphne du Maurier's died in 1989. And according to her wishes, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered on the cliffs near her home.
Daphne du Maurier possibly had lesbian tendencies (she called them "Venetian tendencies") emerged after her deth. She may have had intimate relationships with several women, including Gertrude Lawrence.
Daphne du Maurier, The Secret Life by Margaret Foster. She maintained a charming facade, while underneath there was emotional turbulence and ambiguity. Margaret Forster explores - with the co-operation of the family and access to revealing unpublished letters - Daphne's relationship with her father, her marriage to 'Boy' Browning, her secret wartime love affair, and her highly significant friendship with Gertrude Lawrence.
Daphne du Maurier
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