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Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller (1993)

de Margaret Forster

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3171361,544 (4.08)29
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-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.… (més)

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Very informative. Recommended. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of The Renowned Storyteller
by Margaret Forster
1993
Doubleday
4.0/5.0

Exhaustive, complete and well written, this is one of the best bios I've read about Daphne. It explores her childhood troubles, her difficult and unfortunate marriage and her private sex life.

Recommended. ( )
  over.the.edge | Feb 9, 2020 |
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.) ( )
1 vota piemouth | Mar 18, 2016 |
great story ( )
  mahallett | Nov 2, 2015 |
I read this as I’d been intrigued and a little challenged by the early short stories recently published in The Doll: Short Stories, the only things I’d read by du Maurier other than Rebecca, long, long ago. In this collection, I’d been a little shocked to find, underlying stories written by such a young person, such apparent pessimism and cynicism towards human relationships. I was also puzzled that on occasions they had, for me, the feel of a young male writing. Reading this biography, all was explained.

As I previously knew little or nothing about Daphne du Maurier I can’t, in all honesty, vouch for the accuracy, but I found it very convincing. It read to me as a thorough account of her life and career. Equally importantly – and this is something I’ve been finding lacking in the last few biographies of writers I’ve read – I felt I was really given an insight into her character. As I was reading, the Daphne du Maurier of this book was a very real and immediate personality for me and I felt I was being given an understanding of her psychology and temperament.

I’ve never read any fiction by Margaret Foster but, on the strength of the quality of writing here, I’ve very tempted to do so. It’s a really excellent read, to the point of being a real page-turner – in fact, I occasionally felt I had raced through some of it too quickly and needed to go back and re-read. I have to admit that I did wonder, on occasions, how much I was being gripped by the life of its subject and how much by Forster’s skill as a writer – but, overall, I found it the most enjoyable biography I’ve read in a long time. ( )
  alaudacorax | Apr 4, 2014 |
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

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-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.

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