Read Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster Online

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Rebecca, published in 1938, brought its author instant international acclaim, capturing the popular imagination with its haunting atmosphere of suspense and mystery. du Maurier was immediately established as the queen of the psychological thriller. But the more fame this and her other books encouraged, the more reclusive Daphne du Maurier became.Margaret Forster's award-wiRebecca, published in 1938, brought its author instant international acclaim, capturing the popular imagination with its haunting atmosphere of suspense and mystery. du Maurier was immediately established as the queen of the psychological thriller. But the more fame this and her other books encouraged, the more reclusive Daphne du Maurier became.Margaret Forster's award-winning biography could hardly be more worthy of its subject. Drawing on private letters and papers, and with the unflinching co-operation of Daphne du Maurier's family, Margaret Forster explores the secret drama of her life - the stifling relationship with her father, actor-manager Gerald du Maurier; her troubled marriage to war hero and royal aide, 'Boy' Browning; her wartime love affair; her passion for Cornwall and her deep friendships with the last of her father's actress loves, Gertrude Lawrence, and with an aristocratic American woman.Most significant of all, Margaret Forster ingeniously strips away the relaxed and charming facade to lay bare the true workings of a complex and emotional character whose passionate and often violent stories mirrored her own fantasy life more than anyone could ever have imagined....

Title : Daphne du Maurier
Author :
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ISBN : 9780099333319
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 455 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Daphne du Maurier Reviews

  • Jessica
    2019-03-09 09:09

    I picked up this biography a few years ago from the discard shelf of my local library. How sad! Published in 1993, it seems it should still be relevant. Even if all Du Maurier ever wrote was Rebecca, that's still impressive, isn't it? makes her worthy of today's library shelves? I didn't know much about her but her list of titles--novels, plays, short stories, family and historical biographies--is long. Still the biography sat on my stack of unread books for a couple years.A few months ago I came across My Cousin Rachel on a swap rack (another fortuitous find). That novel, with its powerful exploration of love and jealousy, passion and infatuation, and the mystery at its end (was she or wasn't she planning to kill our narrator?) prompted me to finally give Du Maurier's biography a read.What a fascinating person and life. One of three daughters, Daphne was determined to be a boy growing up and seems to have been seen as a son initially by her father who of course wanted one (and then as a very attractive companion-daughter). Du Maurier hated the word lesbian, did not see herself as one (she has "Venetian" tendencies instead) but would be seen as bisexual today. Some of her most passionate relationships were with women though her marriage endured (that would be the right word) until her husband died. Dedicated and prolific, Du Maurier supported her family with the earnings from her books--her husband, in the British army, did not earn much or at least not enough to support the life she wanted in Cornwall in a neglected mansion, etc. A mother of three children herself, two daughters and a beloved son (finally!), Du Maurier employed a live-in nanny for her children so that she could write and seems to have been able to enjoy them more when they were themselves adults.The biography is well-written, overly detailed in places, as most biographies are. And I felt a little uncomfortable reading over and over again Du Maurier's code words--for intercourse, for foreplay--she has her own language to describe sex and much else. (Is there no privacy left to a writer once a biographer comes along? I guess not.) Forster had access to Du Maurier's letters and diaries, and so to much of her interior life, at least what was written down. She also conducted copious interviews, etc.Forster believes at least three of Daphne Du Maurier's novels belong in the canon: Rebecca, The House on the Strand, The Scapegoat. I would add My Cousin Rachel and many of her short stories to the list. I'll be reading much more of her work now.Popular in her lifetime (often best-selling), Du Maurier felt she never got the critical acclaim she deserved. It would seem she has not still. She is a consummate story teller and creates atmosphere, setting and character like no other.

  • Kim
    2019-03-09 09:16

    In The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett has his main character, Queen Elizabeth II, reflect that authors are "probably best met within the pages of their novels" and are "as much creatures of the reader's imagination as the characters in their books". There’s wisdom in that attitude. It’s quite possible that I’d be disappointed if I encountered one of my favourite novelists at a dinner party and that experience might colour how I react to their writing in the future. And yet, I still find myself drawn to literary biographies. When I really love a novelist’s writing, I can’t help wanting to know more about the novelist.Forster has done an excellent job exploring du Maurier’s life, covering her privileged childhood as the second daughter of actor Gerald du Maurier, her first love affair with a teacher from her French finishing school, her troubled marriage to Boy Browning, her extra-marital affairs (including with actress Gertrude Lawrence), her relationship with her children, the development of her writing career and her long association with Cornwall. Forster’s prose is easy to read, her research is thorough and she engages in very little speculation. What emerges about du Maurier is interesting, perplexing and ultimately very sad. Du Maurier’s sexual ambiguity – “the boy in the box” as she referred to that part of her which was attracted to women – was clearly an important feature of her psychological make-up. Another important feature was du Maurier’s relationship with her father. While Forster is careful not to draw conclusions - I suspect because she wished to avoid distressing du Maurier’s children - it is at least possible that du Maurier’s father sexually abused her. If so, this would explain a lot about du Maurier’s adult sexual relationships and her fraught relationship with her daughters. I’m reasonably sure that I wouldn’t have liked du Maurier. She was painfully shy, reclusive, judgmental and very difficult to live with. However, Forster’s work has increased my admiration for du Maurier as a writer. She was passionate about her work, mining every experience for ideas. For du Maurier, writing was breathing. When, as an elderly woman, the ability to write evaporated, she lost the will to live. This was devastating to read about, but a testament to the strength of the creative impulse and evidence that writers are born and not made. I enjoyed the experience of reading this biography with my friend Jemidar and I’m looking forward to reading more of du Maurier’s work. It will be interesting to see how my increased knowledge of her life affects my response to her writing.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-06 14:14

    A very complete, no holds barred biography about an author whose novels I have long admired.Forster had access to hundreds of family and friend letters, as well as being able to interview those close to Du Maurier. Her written portrait of Daphne paints a woman both brilliant and conflicted in her sexuality, her marriage, her role as a mother and her overriding need to express all these inner conflicts through her writing. Forster not only sketches the life history of Du Maurier (which is fascinating in and of itself), but she goes on to show how each of her novels came to be written, and why there's a whole lot more of Daphne in each of them then the casual reader might previously have known.I came away from reading this feeling that Du Maurier wouldn't have been an easy person for me to be around (or even like). That being said, my appreciation for her creative genius increased after reading Forster's biography. It's an excellent piece of non-fiction on a one-of-a-kind author, and one I recommend to any reader interested in her life and work.

  • Jaksen
    2019-03-09 08:25

    Very clear, insightful biography of the author, with emphasis on her inner turmoil as she continually attempted to balance the needs of the outside world - society, family, husband's career needs, friends and confidantes - with the constant need to write. This is a dilemma felt by many writers, that in order to write, there's a need for long periods of solitude to think, reason, plan, research, write and re-write. I emphasize that this is not merely a desire, but a need, and one which most nonwriters do not comprehend. (Neither do they respect it.) Du Maurier would have been happy in a hovel with a pad and pen, or a typewriter, and did indeed write this way, in a 'writing hut' on the estate of Menabilly.(Menabilly, in Cornwall, is as much a force and a personality as it is a house. Du Maurier lived in this grand estate, the model for Manderley in her most famous book, Rebecca, yet it wasn't 'hers.' She rented the vast estate for over twenty years and went through personal crises every time the lease came up or the family which owned it threatened to return. From reading this book one can come away with the fact that she had three great loves, and one of them was this house.)Anyhow, her entire life was one huge, difficult balancing act, which she chronicled in meticulous detail through the hundreds of letters she wrote. There was no doubt she was never more at perfect peace - and more happy - than when writing. The fact she's almost always writing, if not on paper, then in her head, is revealed in these letters. She's very open and honest about it, and even when receiving the Queen and Prince Philip for tea, she's waiting for it to be over with so she can -guess what? Write! She was a recluse who wanted social contact on her own terms, and often she wanted no social contact at all.(It was surprising to me that despite this, she did have a lot of friends and was very close to several family members. She, however, often writes how few friends she has. She's a dilemma!)Anyhow, that's my greatest takeaway on her life, and this book. There is also the chronicling of life events, family history, births and deaths of those close to her; revelations on how she viewed love, desire and the 'fame' she didn't want but learned to enjoy; as well as issues with editors, fans, friends, lovers, and so on. There's great discussion on where her ideas came from - she had to 'wait' for them to come and most of her stories were prompted by events in her own life, which she freely admits - and some psychological insight into her personal and writing life. It's a very complete picture of a complex individual. All in all, a meticulously-written biography with more than ample documentation. My one complaint: more pictures! More photographs! But that is often an editorial, not author's, decision.

  • Beth Bonini
    2019-02-28 16:15

    I read Forster’s biography immediately after reading the more recently published book Manderley Forever. Author Tatiana de Rosnay did a rather bold thing by writing her novel in the present tense; not quite getting inside the skin of ‘Daphne’ by giving her protagonist the first-person voice, but still presenting the events of Daphne du Maurier’s life as if she (and the reader) were eyewitnesses. It’s an interesting and entertaining read, but in many ways I felt it did not manage to make the real person of Daphne du Maurier ‘real’ to me. The Daphne I encountered in that book seemed spoiled, selfish, standoffish, duplicitous, secretive and brittle; I couldn’t warm to her at all, despite the fact that Tatiana de Rosnay was so obviously enamoured of her subject. What I found in Margaret Forster’s biography (published 24 years before, in 1993) was insight and analysis into the admittedly complex character of Daphne du Maurier. Reading both books together enabled me to feel that I did gain some feeling and understanding for someone who was obviously a rather difficult, complicated, but in many ways, very admirable woman. Forster excels at explaining Daphne’s lifelong belief that there was a boy - Eric Avon, or ‘the boy in the box’ - inside her. This alter ego was more in line with the idea of a second self - and importantly, the bold, creative (and often sexual) self of DdM. When the two selves of DdM were balanced, and this was chiefly when she was engaged in the act of creative engagement (ie, writing), she was a fulfilled woman, if not always a happy one. But when her creative self was stymied, or dormant, she seemed to experience both depression, malaise, anger and neurosis. (Interestingly, the boy inside her allowed her to deny any lesbian (or ‘Venetian’) tendencies in herself.)Daphne was obviously a very complicated character, and Forster was told by DdM’s own children that she would discover a ‘chameleon’ when she tried to pin down the author, daughter, lover, mother and wife. Forster emphasises how her letters reveal just how much she could change her character and personality to suit her audience; also, there seems to be a great deal of evidence that the social personality was very different from the darker, more complicated internal personality - as was so evident in her work. One appealing aspect of DdM which was not so evident in de Rosnay’s book was Daphne’s sense of humour and fun, also her self-deprecating ways and her lack of arrogance about her own writing. With her family, Forster says that ‘there was always a lot of laughter, and the idea that Daphne had within her this demanding other self which was placated only be writing was impossible to guess at’. Another insight which Forster offers is Daphne’s own admission that she only felt truly herself when she was alone. Yes, she was selfish - yes, she preferred her home Menabilly, her writing and her own rigid routine (‘routes’), often to the expense of her children and her marriage - but she was not unaware of this. As Forster points out, through Daphne’s own correspondence, she was very much aware of both the mistakes and compromises she made to be the writer she not just wanted, but needed, to be. I ended up admiring, very much, the incredible physical and psychic energy she put into her writing. She needed to write for many reasons, but not least of all as a way of working out the incredibly complicated emotional feelings which otherwise threatened to swamp her. I thought that Forster’s biography was very strong on DdM’s marriage to Tommy ‘Boy’ Browning, but somewhat less revealing about her relationship with her sisters and father. She does a good job of describing the various novels and historical and biographical works, whilst putting them into context in DdM’s emotional life. Although some people and events are dealt with too superficially, the truth is that the biographer obviously had to make choices. In a life as interesting as Daphne’s, the biography could have easily been twice as long. 4.5 stars - with much underlining and starring as I read.

  • Kaethe
    2019-03-12 11:31

    I was content to look at the pictures; I'm afraid to learn stuff that will just annoy me

  • Lynda
    2019-03-19 11:17

    This was a very interesting and thoroughly researched read. However I found it diminished rather than enhanced my view of Daphne Du Maurier and her oeuvre. Her was a woman who lived to write and wrote to live and everyone and everything apart from perhaps Menabilly took a second place to that. It is easier I suppose to accept as a modern day reader to accept her conflicted sexuality but not so easy to accept her self confessed disinterest in her children and laterally her grandchildren. She also appeared to have been lacking rather in gratitude at the priviledge. of her life and circumstances. Although it does not deter me from reading her novels it does cast them in a rather different light.

  • Helle
    2019-03-16 12:20

    This was a pleasant read – as good as any novel about a strange, elusive woman who happened to have written a lot of books, have a desire to be a recluse and whose inner life was often a struggle between different personalities.I had recently seen a BBC production about Daphne du Maurier, and having read some of her books and being fascinated by the era she belonged to as well as the area she lived in, I was curious to explore her life further. And what capable hands her life is in in those of Margaret Forster.Daphne du Maurier, to me, is an old world kind of author (two of her stories being made into movies by Alfred Hitchcock), and I mean that in the most positive sense. It’s also something that she apparently considered during her writing career: That from the publication of her first novel in 1931 to her last novel in 1972, the publishing business had changed dramatically, but so had the notion of literature and how writers were supposed to write. She was one of few writers who managed to write (melo-) dramatic bestsellers but who also explored the depths of the human psyche, sometimes drawing on the macabre.The biography is candid. We get all the details, some of which must have been painful for her grown children to read about. I felt saddened at some of these details, especially reading how Daphne du Maurier, as a child, was never held by her mother and how, no doubt, this led to some aspects which I did not sympathize with at all, notably how she treated her own daughters when they were children: they weren’t allowed to eat with their parents until they were 12, and their nanny took more care of them than their mother did. And she treated their younger brother quite differently, being only really contented when she finally had a son.I felt almost jealous of how du Maurier could just sit down and pour out her innermost thoughts and hey, presto, a book would emerge from that in a matter of months. She was very prolific, but then writing was her life. She felt miserable when she couldn’t write, and it was, Margaret Forster convincingly explains, the only way in which a crucial part of her could find an outlet. I have been to Cornwall a few times (I keep on returning to the south of England) and would love to try to find the area around Menabilly where Daphne du Maurier lived for most of her adult life, and which was the house and grounds on which she modelled Manderly in Rebecca.

  • Mary
    2019-03-07 16:30

    This biography explores the motivations behind Daphne du Maurier's numerous spellbinding works. In a prolific writing career that began in 1931 with The Loving Spirit and subsequently spanned fifty years, the portrait that emerges is that of a woman constantly at odds with herself. Her various literary achievements coupled with a drive to succeed often conflicted with her role as a wife and a mother.Access to Daphne's personal correspondence has allowed the author to reveal such private details of her life as Daphne's bisexual extramarital attractions, which included a longtime infatuation with Gertrude Lawrence - an English singer and actress, famous for her appearances on the London stage and on Broadway. Daphne's rich fantasy life and fertile imagination enabled her to write captivating novels epitomized by 1938's Rebecca - a story which continues to endure even to this day. This richly layered biography aptly unveils the passionate nature of a woman who spent her life portraying the secrets of the sexual tensions between men and women. I absolutely loved this book. I learned much more about Daphne du Maurier's life than I was expecting. I will say that Margaret Forster's writing style stopped just short of providing too much detail, although I would still give this book an A+!

  • Gerry
    2019-03-10 10:30

    An excellent biography by a superb writer.Margaret Forster explores Daphne du Maurier's background and details her sometimes difficult relationship with her famour father, Gerald, before examining Daphne's complex and intriguing character.She has the co-operation of Daphne's family so every little aspect of her life is looked at in detail and nothing is ignored; her troubled marriage to 'Boy' Browning and how she battled to keep it going, her various love affairs and how she handled Daphne No1 and Daphne No 2. The last mentioned most interesting!The production of her novels and short stories are also examined in detail, how and why she came to write them and her interesting relationship with publisher Victor Gollancz. Gollancz was magnificent in ensuring that there were plenty of copies of each of her books available, even those in wartime when paper was short but in the end the initially published number had to fall because Daphne's saleability had dropped a little. Daphne was none too pleased but accepted it eventually with good grace.All-in-all it makes for compelling reading and puts Daphne into context with her various novels.

  • Nicola
    2019-02-28 15:06

    There is something faintly disconcerting about the stripping away of someone’s private life in non-fiction writing. Reading not even between the lines, the vision you get of Daphne du M is that she was rather a self-absorbed and even a rather selfish character. She lived a fairly sheltered and privileged life, and indeed seemed more preoccupied with remaining the inhabitant of the house of Menabilly than with her own children. She certainly wasn’t particularly maternal or sociable. She was sometimes cruel, and the revelations about her infatuations with both sexes over the years before and during her union with the rather stoic husband ‘Boy’ left me as a reader feeling rather voyeuristic. I clearly don’t read enough biographies… Fascinating, though, to hear her talk on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs back in 1977, highly recommend you have a listen while doing the ironing, or equivalent, each to his/her own… Read full review at literary ramblings etc

  • Marguerite Kaye
    2019-03-05 14:28

    In many ways, Daphne du Maurier is as unlikeable as the heroines of some of her greatest books, but in the same ways, she's also compelling. This was an excellent bio, candid without being lurid, enquiring without going too wildly astray into the author's own theories. As a writer, I'm always fascinated by where other writers get their ideas from and how they go about writing. Du Maurier was a major and detailed plotter, keeping immense amounts of notes and diaries, and only writing (save one book) once she had every bit of the characters and story sorted in her head - not for her, the idea that the characters might take over once she started putting them on the page. Only in her writing could she express what she called her Number 2 character - the inner boy which she thought of as her true self. The extent of her self-dullusion or repression of this true self is tragic, and makes many of the unattractive facets of her character understandable if not acceptable. I'm making her sound awful, but like Rebecca, as I said, I found her horribly compelling, and this a really great book.

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-27 10:03

    An excellent woman, writer and biography. At times totally heartbreaking as we see the writer whose full life is hollow when she cannot create.

  • The Reader
    2019-03-11 16:20

    I usually find biographies pretty hard going and tend to give up a chapter or so in (I think this is only the second one I've managed to finish) but this one was different: well written, not the least bit boring and full of genuine empathy for du Maurier who, as it turns out, was quite a piece of work. Very matter-of-fact about her various biases and prejudices; du Maurier is taken in context as a product of her time and class. So far the only biography which hasn't ruined the subject for me!

  • Kim
    2019-03-18 11:23

    Great fun to spend 400 pages in the company of this genuine eccentric woman. Her prolific letters and diaries made the biographer's task easy. I find myself for the first time grateful for You Tube-- where I could see a bit of film of Daphne still in her prime, while reading the last few sad pages of crotchety old age.

  • Audrey
    2019-03-26 08:09

    Wonderful biography of life of the very complex writer Daphne Du Maurier. Drawing from original letters, documents and interviews with family and friends this biography tells the story of a complicated and tormented woman, who felt at odds with the world her whole life. Born Into a theatrical family and the granddaughter of another famous novelist, Daphne Du Maurier had from all outward aspects a charmed upbringing, but nothing is at it appears on the surface. The book takes an unflinching look at her life, loves and attitudes, as well as her writing process and the darkness in many of her short stories and novels. At the end of the book I felt such a sadness for Du Maurier. She really was born a woman before her time. Much of her life was dictated by the times in which she lived, but also by family and society expectations. She repressed many parts of her self and this ultimately caused her much distress and suffering. THE only release she had was through her writing. Throughout reading the book you feel Du Maurier is constantly searching for something, this is reflected in her letters and writings. I don't think she ever really found it, except in her writing. The book flows smoothly and is well structured and written. The book definitely holds the readers interest. To be honest, I could not put the book down. If you enjoy Reading Biography, I would highly recommend this book.

  • LemonLinda
    2019-02-25 16:28

    Forster has given us a well research and well written portrayal of du Maurier. She shows us the story of this oft troubled, conflicted writer who never gained sufficient self-confidence to understand her own level of genius and creativity. Daphne, the child, was the darling of her dad and never developed a proper mother-daughter relationship, yet her relationship with her dad was not totally healthy as she so wanted to be his good and proper son. This may have led to a deeply rooted conflict which was never resolved about her "boy within". Daphne, the young wife, was probably at her happiest. Once children arrived, she loved them yet never really understood how to care for them and to show affection for them until her third child arrived which was finally the son she had yearned for. He did get that display of affection so routinely kept from the two girls. War years intervened and wrecked havoc on her marriage yet she was determined to persevere as she deplored divorce. We see her through the grief of deaths of those she loved and how that affected her writing and living. And we come to the end of her life and how her inability to continue a writing career helped led to ill health and finally her death.Forster also gives us a fascinating synopsis of how each book developed and how the writing of each affected du Maurier.

  • Susan
    2019-03-26 13:07

    A meticulously researched book which charts this well known and popular author's somewhat unusual, and at times surprisingly unconventional life from her childhood untill her death.I became immersed in this biography, which was very well written....as I had expected from it's author.It was fascinating to read about the actual writing of du Maurier's books in such depth, and to learn of how many of them were inspired by real life people, places and events, and of how she returns time and time again, in both her books and short stories, to themes which were born of her own experiences of childhood, adolescence and adulthood.I found myself wondering about the impact this book may have had on her living relatives.I realise that her family gave their full blessing and co-operation, so presumably these kind of relevations are acceptable when one has a famous relative.I've enjoyed all those of her books which I've read, and look forward to discovering more of her work, but, I have to say that I found this biography to be every bit as intriguing and absorbing as any of her own fiction.

  • Lucy
    2019-03-26 09:12

    I must confess I have not read any of Daphne De Mauriers books, all I knew of her was through the Dirk Bogarde Autobiography's, in which she had made her disatifactio0n with Dirks portrayal of her husband ‘boy browning’This book was given to me by my Mother… I think it was a sign from her that she was trying to understand my sexuality. I read the book keenly wanting to know how this lady had dealt with the demons we all have to face. It is a wonderfully written book, the family co-operated fully, and the letters give you a great insight Daphne’s story is such an interesting one, she had a strange relationship with her father, and strangely had a relationship years later with his mistress Gertrude Lawrence. Prior to that she had fallen madly in love with an aristocratic american lady, but sadly the feelings were not reciprocated. Ms Forster manages to strip away at the facade that Daphne fought so hard to keep of the happily married women. And instead we meet a complex and emotional character life mimics her books in ways one could never have dreamt of! A really great book! 

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-21 14:28

    Daphne Du Maurier is a fascinating study. A woman way ahead of her time. An artist who was as dark and complex as her female characters. The Du Muarier family were all as interesting and as talented in other art forms as she was in the literary world. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and would recommend it.

  • Ant Koplowitz
    2019-03-25 15:02

    A beautifully written biography of one of the world's literary greats. Margaret Forster's compassion for her subject comes through, but never to the extent that she avoids being critical when necessary. This really is the seminal work on du Maurrier.I loved this book.© Koplowitz 2012

  • EternallyDreaming of Libraries
    2019-03-19 14:13

    Hello! This is my long overdue book discussion/review of Margaret Forster's biography of one of my favorite authors ever, Daphne du Maurier! Let's dive right in!When I first came across this book in the summer of 2014, I absolutely couldn't believe it had never occurred to me to read a book about du Maurier's life even though I'd been obsessed with her for ages. It was only when I came across this same book this past summer in June at a Goodwill for the brilliant price of three bucks that I decided to take the plunge and peer into the life of my writing hero, despite whatever consequences of disillusionment might occur.The three areas I will focus on in this discussion are Margaret Forster's depiction of du Maurier's development as a writer and the background she gives to her works, du Maurier's personal life, and finally my experience of reading the book itself.I was most excited to learn more about du Maurier's writing life and how she came to be a writer. Forster starts off with a discussion of du Maurier's childhood and shows how her home environment was positively encouraging to "flights of fancy and fantasy." du Maurier's father was a well known actor and her mother was a retired actress and du Maurier spent a lot of time with her father at the theater and movie studios. Thus, it came as no surprise that she played so many make believe games with her sisters and often allowed herself to be swept away with her imagined musings about the various people she met.Writing was also a creative outlet for du Maurier and Forster let us in on the conflicting personalities that governed her inner life. du Maurier had her own made up lingo for just about every aspect of her life and she called the two different sides to her personality Daphne number 1 and Daphne number 2. It was Daphne number 2 du Maurier could not give expression to in her daily life (I won't spoil, just read the biography and find out for yourself just what this consisted of!) and writing was her way of channeling this energy into a productive activity.Of course du Maurier read voraciously growing up, which is absolutely a requirement for anyone who wishes to be a writer of this caliber.Forster showed how all of this came together to make du Maurier into the natural storyteller that she was to become. I marveled at du Maurier's delightful ability to pluck stories out of the very air. She was never long without a story idea and everything she encountered in life was simply grist for the mill. But before she got down to her routine of churning out great stories every few months, the only real challenge du Maurier faced in starting out as a writer was the expected one of finding the discipline in herself to sit down and commit to a consistent regime of writing. Her first story came about only when she isolated herself from her usual routine and family and friends by staying at one of her families' vacation homes by herself and writing for a few weeks.I loved how Forster showed that writing was no mere hobby to du Maurier but essentially her life. When du Maurier was in the process of coming up with a story, researching for it, and finally getting down to the writing of it, she truly lived. In between writing projects, du Maurier was simply waiting to live. She experienced complete absorption in her work and relished the entire process. Forster shows us how later on in her life, when du Maurier experienced such things as troubles in her marriage or grief of any kind, or if she just felt put out by some unpleasant circumstance or other, she would launch herself into a writing project because she knew that once she embarked on one she would be lost to the miseries of this world.I was surprised to discover the range of du Maurier and how she did not only write fiction but also wrote several biographies, most notably one of her own father only months after his death. She also wrote about her beloved Cornwall, which along with writing, a house called Menabilly (yes, this was part of the inspiration for Manderley!), and long walks with her dogs were honestly her main passions in life.My favorite aspect of this biography was the extensive detail Forster provided on the works of du Maurier, and honestly what I feel I will be turning back to in this book for years to come as I delve deeper into reading her books. Forster gives the background for basically everything du Maurier ever wrote and so much more! She tells us what events were going on in du Maurier's life at the time the idea for the book came about, what people might have influenced her, what the writing process was like, what her publishers thought about the book, what the editing process for it was like, what the general public thought of it, and finally du Maurier's opinion of her own writing. This was splendid for me! I can't say that I've read a lot of du Maurier at all and so this biography serves a great guide for me in deciding which of du Maurier's works I will be seeking out next. I thrilled at getting all those great insights into the creation of some of du Maurier's most famous works and feel that will only enrich my reading experience of them further when I finally get around to them. I was definitely surprised and intrigued to find out what inspired the character of Rachel in My Cousin Rachel, which I read this past year.My admiration for du Maurier as a writer only increased after reading this biography, however, the insight Forster gave in regards to her personal life made me realize I would not necessarily like du Maurier as a person. du Maurier was a very difficult person. She was also very particular about how she liked things and when things didn't go her way she would go to great lengths to make everyone around her suffer. Or at least, one example of this from the biography was when du Maurier was in her eighties and would torment the nurses who looked after her just because she didn't like them and resented the fact that she had to have nurses in the first place.du Maurier was also a very private person and throughout her life hated to give interviews and only did so grudgingly only late into her career and only after being begged and pleaded with. As I mentioned before, writing was du Maurier's life and everything else was secondary. Though this produced great genius in regards to her literary output, it made her personal life not very pleasant at times.All of this, however, was not what made me realize I wouldn't like du Maurier. The clincher for me came when I read about how she treated her children. When she had her first child, she handed her off to a nurse and decided to concentrate on her writing because she realized she simply did not have the mothering instinct within her. That's not a crime, I was fine with that. Her second child was born and she felt the same way once again, leaving all the daily care and attention to nannies and nurses. However, her third child was born and she suddenly changed her entire attitude towards children and suddenly 'found' the mothering instinct! What was the difference? Her third child was a BOY! Yes, I couldn't believe it either. How could du Maurier, as a woman herself, do such a thing to her daughters? Reading about how she lavished all the love and attention she'd deprived of her two daughters on her son just made me rage!Finally, let's turn to my experience of reading the book itself. My favorite thing about reading Forster's biography was marveling at just how exhaustively researched it was. The very clear picture Forster paints of who du Maurier was is backed up by evidence in every instance. Forster had access to all of du Maurier's correspondence, diaries, journals, and interviewed basically everyone du Maurier knew! Thus, Forster did not rely on speculation at all in writing this and that made me appreciate the biography that much more.I'm glad I got to read to this book. The best thing it has done for me is given me a great guide to all of du Maurier's works and insight into how those came about. I will be turning to this biography a lot in the future whenever I want to read something else by du Maurier.I've never read anything by Forster before, but if this biography is any indication of her writing abilities, I daresay I shall be checking out her work in the future!Thus, to conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recomend it to all and sundry! I give it a solid three stars out of five!

  • Doria
    2019-03-27 09:02

    This is certainly a fine book, carefully researched and scrupulously eschewing exaggeration or extrapolation. The subject became, unexpectedly, less and less interesting or relatable the farther along I got, to the point that by the end I heartily disliked her. But that is no fault of the biographer, who soldiered on in an admirable spirit of unvarnished truth-telling. I felt oddly honor-bound to see the book through to the end, which I did.So. I did find DdM’s life to be of some historical interest, particularly her struggles with her sexual identity. The mode and means of her mental gymnastics are certainly dated, but nevertheless worth examining, even if from the vantage point of a time period in which her inner agonies appear pointless and silly at best, and aggressively dishonest posturing at worst. In post-War Britain, they were anything but, and it is rather fascinating to ponder the distance our society has traversed since her time.That said, the truth is that she was rather snobby, heartless and unsympathetic, and quite relentlessly self-interested. Born into privilege, she took her various gifts - fame, money, good looks, adoring fans and lovers - very much for granted. She certainly wrote some very fine books, but it turns out that she also produced some awful clunkers. No crime there, but such is the truth.

  • Alice
    2019-03-16 10:01

    This is a well-written biography that is careful to try to present a balanced picture of duMaurier, difficult to do with such a thoroughly unlikeable subject. The writer was uneducated, sheltered, never had a real job, hostile or indifferent toward her husband and children except when it suited her to act otherwise, utterly self-absorbed and with a big mean streak. She talked a lot about valuing independence, but never lived without servants, and certainly did not have the courage to acknowledge her own sexuality (except on the q.t. with two women who conveniently lived in America) or prejudices. The fact that duMaurier managed to write some enduring books is a testament to her strong creative drive, because she certainly was ill-equipped to do anything else. She was lucky to have real editors who significantly improved her books, unlike publishers today. I was never bored with this book, because it's full of interesting characters, but the subject is certainly a deeply flawed human being and in many ways led a sad, though privileged, life. If you love her books, you may want to skip this biography, because it will change forever how you think of her.

  • Helen
    2019-03-18 16:31

    Very readable biography of this complex and interesting woman. As with most thorough biographies, maybe if you don't like finding out the less attractive side of a favourite person's character you should avoid it (everyone has one! In Daphne's case, a certain coldness to her daughters and grandchildren - she was what used to be known as a "boy's mother" - some snobbery, the reluctance of the wealthy to pay taxes, and some rather selfish behaviour generally). The story of her background, what today would be recognised as bisexuality, and her approach to her writing and the sources of inspiration for her books are all interesting and well-researched. My only vaguely negative feeling is that people, places and incidents drop out of sight and you never hear the end of their story (it was quite a surprise to find that her mother was still alive years after the last mention, for instance). There's a good index and bibliography.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-12 10:13

    The first half was the best.

  • Allegria
    2019-03-02 16:26

    Beautifully written portrait of an extremely talented narcissist.

  • Lizzie
    2019-03-05 16:31

    I enjoyed this very much - Forster is a writer whose other work I've liked, and De Maurier was an interesting, complex person who Forster does a great job of interpreting. du Maurier's family cooperated fully and she lived in the era when letters flourished. She grew up in an artistic family. Her grandfather was the writer and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, best known for the novel Trilby. Her father was the actor-manager Gerald du Maurier who happened to be brother of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies whose sons were the models for Peter Pan. Her parents had a happy marriage and her mother tolerated Gerald's dalliances with actresses; when Daphne became aware of this at the same time her father was becoming strict with his adolescent daughters, her hatred of this hypocrisy helped to drive a wedge between them.All her life she felt she was a boy but consciously put that aside and referred to the "boy in a box" in letters. Later in life she became interested in Jungian psychology and the idea that we all have a shadow personality that drives us and must come out some way, which she found meaningful to explain the "boy in a box" and how it helped her writing. She made real people into fantasies, then wrote stories about them. At the end of her life when her creative muse left her, she became deeply depressed until her death. She deeply loved her husband, who she married after they'd known each other three months, yet craved solitude and their happiest years were during and after the war when he was overseas or working in London and she was nearly alone in Cornwall. When he retired, tensions flared. After writing Rebecca she became obsessed with a house there and was able to get a long term lease on it, though she never owned it, and eventually had to move, which was a blow. She had passionate feelings for several of women, most notably the actress Gertrude Lawrence, and Ellen Doubleday the wife of her publisher, and although letters make cleaer that the relationship with Lawrence was physical, she was vehement in letters that she was not a lesbian. This makes me think that if she'd lived in a later time she would not have come out as trans or bisexual. In some ways she was very straight laced - shocked at her son feeding and doing diaper changes for his kids, very disapproving that her daughters both divorced and remarried. She had stuck it out through her difficult marriage so why couldn't they?She and her family have all kinds of special slang, like the Mitfords, so that's fun. Lesbians are Venetians, sex is waxing, and the act of intercourse is Cairo - she writes a friend that Cairo is now over between her and her husband and she never liked it anyway (but later seems to be trying, in her writings, to figure out how important sex is in relationships.)

  • Holly Weiss
    2019-03-09 14:01

    It was fascinating as an author to read this excellent biography of another author. Life was not easy for Daphne du Maurier. Family relationships were strained at times. She was close to her father as a child, but he was very domineering. Thus she often wrote the men in her novels as uncaring, mysterious and distant. (view spoiler)[Daphne had issues with her sexuality, finding her romantic entanglements with men more of "older brother" "best friend" with no chemistry. She did have affairs with women before and after she settled down to marry Tommy Browning with whom she had three children.(hide spoiler)] She loved her children, but was disappointed that the first two were girls and thus held back her affection until her son was born. She loved solitude, not just to write, but also to ponder life. A nanny was a perfect solution to care for her children while she wrote. After a long stint in the war, her husband returned home to find her distant and begrudging of her personal time. Their relationship was tenuous from then on. Du Maurier enjoyed being enigmatic and was quite a recluse. She constantly doubted her writing skill. When her publisher wanted to print 70,000 copies, she would argue that he should only print 40,000. Thanks to the huge success of Rebecca and the subsequent Hitchcock movie, she was financially secure. Her career spanned gothic romances, family memoirs and finally historical fiction.Read for HFUBA and joint read of The Glass Blowers.

  • Linda
    2019-03-25 15:24

    Daphne du Maurier's books, "The Scapegoat" and "The King's General" are among my all-time favorite reads. Though I great enjoyed some of her more well-known books like "Rebecca," I've read these two multiple times. I own them both and will never let them leave my library. Thus I was curious to add to my scant info on du Maurier. A fascinating life and boo, though I did get tired of her obsessions by the end. The biographic details are of interest but the real meat of the story is what she wrote, why, how and what she saw in these tales. Kind of like an Andrew Wyeth painting: what we see is not what the artist saw when creating the work.This book was on shelf of biographies that I keep intending to read. I decided that I read them this summer or they are going to the library book sale. Next up: Lunt and Fontanne.