If you’re looking for a good read with intrigue, suspense and drama then look no further than Daphne du Maurier. She’s one of those authors that you can read time and time again at different times of your life. Her page turning novels of history and wars with sinister overtones and shadows of the paranormal tell tales with a twist at the end of every chapter. Her writing captures the harrowing and terrifying side of her imagination. Her style is a little old fashioned now but I happen to like old fashioned!
She was born in London in 1907 and came from a literary family, her father was the actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and her grandfather was an author and Punch cartoonist, her ancestors were all well connected to the arts and theatre. She moved from London to Fowey in Cornwall with her family when she was young and loved the area so much she remained there for the rest of her life. The rugged coastline of Cornwall fired her imagination to write her tales of shipwrecks, evil characters and smugglers tales. She married professional soldier Frederick “Boy” Browning in 1932 with whom she had three children.
Her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931. Although she wrote eighteen novels, three plays, seven short story collections and nine non-fiction books, her most famous work was the novel Rebecca which was adapted for stage and screen several times and is generally regarded as her masterpiece. Alfred Hitchcock directed three of her works for the screen including Jamaica Inn, The Birds and Rebecca which won Best Picture Oscar of 1941. Frenchman’s Creek, Hungry Hill, My Cousin Rachel and Don’t Look Now were also made into films. Daphne had a fascination with the Brontë family and wrote The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë in 1960. Her last novel Rule Britannia was published in 1972. In 1969 she was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire but refused to use the title of Dame. Daphne died in 1989 at the age of 81.
Every year in Daphne’s honour there’s a literary festival held in Fowey, Cornwall. It’s called the du Maurier Festival and it’s held every May and includes a short story prize, talks, jazz sessions and comedy evenings all in the beautiful surroundings of the Fowey Estuary. Information: www.foweyfestival.com