January 27, 2016

Wednesday Writing Wisdom (43) Daphne Du Maurier

Act God. Fashion men and women as Prometheus fashioned them from clay, and, by doing this, work out the unconscious strife within and be reconciled.

Daphne Du Maurier
(1907 - 1989) 
Fun facts about:
Her grandfather, George du Maurier, was a novelist and cartoonist, and her father, Gerald, was a successful actor and theater manager. Daphne seems to have inherited some of the neuroses of her artistic ancestors -- depression, breakdowns, grandiose insecurity -- as well as their gifts.

She is alleged to have had affairs with several famous people. Romance and mystery are the bywords of much of du Maurier’s fiction – ‘romance’ both in the sense of romantic relationships and exotic escapism (films of her work were popular during WWII for this very reason). Consider, for instance, her alleged affairs with both men and women, including the director of The Third Man, Carol Reed, and the actress, Gertrude Lawrence.

A number of classic films owe their existence to Daphne du Maurier. Alfred Hitchcock was especially a fan of her work and adapted Jamaica Inn, The Birds, and Rebecca for the big screen. The Nicolas Roeg film Don’t Look Now (which is now being remade) is also based on a Daphne du Maurier short story.

Ms. du Maurier died in 1989 at the age of 81. As a biographer, Margaret Forster, wrote, it was not the death she hoped for -- "when my time comes, let me go out like a light, swiftly." Instead, she had, in essence, starved herself because she was no longer able to write.

She was given the honor of being the ‘Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ in the ‘Queen’s Birthday Honors’ however she never 
really used this title.

Daphne du Maurier also wrote three plays. The first was an adaptation of her novel ‘Rebecca’ that was published in 1938.


  1. I didn't realize she led such a troubled life. She certainly gave the world of literature engrossing stories to remember her by. I've seen film adaptions of so many of her works, but dive into the print copies some day.

    1. I read a couple of her novels, Rebecca and Cousin Rachel being my favorite. I also watched movies screened from her books.I haven't read Birds but watched the awesome Hitchcock film.

    2. That one still gives me shivers!

    3. Yes. I remember that after watching it, when I went out of the movie hall I looked suspiciously at some innocent sparrows chirping in a tree near the bus stop!

  2. What a lovely picture of her, and I love her quote. Rebecca and Cousin Rachel are also favorites of mine. Like you and Mae, Carmen, The Birds gives me the shivers--it's so good though. Tippi Hedren was the actress in the movie, and that crazy teen show Pretty Little Liars gives it a shout out by having a sinister bird named Tippi. As you did with the sparrows, I have certainly looked at a line of crows with trepidation.

  3. Rarely movies do credit to books. But what Hitchcock did was a masterpiece, especially at a time when special effects were not so sophisticated.


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