du Maurier, Daphne

Tagged: Author

(1907-1989) UK author, granddaughter of George du Maurier, famous (against her will: she thought of herself as an author of psychological studies without genre taint) for dark-hued romances like her most famous tale, Rebecca (1938) – usually set in Cornwall and often – like her first, The Loving Spirit (1931), a ghost story – tinged with the supernatural. There is a hauntedness about her life and work – a sense that very deep issues of Gender tormented her personally while at the same time they enabled her work, which is full of intimate, role-threatening doubles (see Doppelgangers) – that at times evokes the life and work of James Tiptree Jr. The Years Between: A Play in Two Acts (performed 1944; 1945), a Near Future World War Two drama set mostly at the point of Germany's surrender in 1945, genteelly revolves around the secret exploits of the protagonist's husband, who has organized what seems the whole of the European resistance to the Nazis, and who returns prepared to become "benefactor-cum-policeman" over Britain, which will therefore be untroubled by threats of revolutionary change; echoes of Bernard Newman's The Cavalry Went Through (1930) are probably unintended. Her interest in genre work was clearly typical of the Mainstream Writer of SF, as confirmed by the rudimentary sf explanation of the Timeslip in The House on the Strand (1969), for it is Drugs that send its contemporary protagonist into medieval Cornwall. Her worst book, and her one genuine sf novel, Rule Britannia (1972), subjects a Near-Future Cornwall to US Invasion, during which the natives rebel against the tasteless Yankees.

Among du Maurier's shorter works are The Birds (October 1952 Good Housekeeping; 1996 chap), which was included in The Apple Tree: A Short Novel and Some Stories (coll 1952; vt Kiss Me Again, Stranger 1953; vt The Birds and Other Stories 1963), and made by Alfred Hitchcock into The Birds (1963); and "Don't Look Now" (in Don't Look Now, coll 1966; also included in Not After Midnight, coll 1971; vt Don't Look Now 1971), and filmed by Nicolas Roeg as Don't Look Now (1973). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1969. [JC]

Dame Daphne du Maurier

born London: 13 May 1907

died Par, Cornwall: 19 April 1989

works (selected)

collections and stories

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