May 13th Daphne du Maurier (Birth)

London – born Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), who spent most of her adult life in Cornwall, was the world famous author of atmospheric novels including, of course, ‘Rebecca’ (1938), ‘My Cousin Rachel’ (1951), ‘Jamaica Inn’ (1936) , ‘The House on the Strand’ (1969) and ‘The King’s General’ (1946) and ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ (1946) as well as the short stories ‘The Birds’ (1952) and ‘Don’t Look Now’ (1971). She was also the elder sister of the painter Jeanne du Maurier (March 27th).

The daughter of the actor manager, Sir Gerald du Maurier, and the grand daughter of the writer and cartoonist, George du Maurier she became devoted to Cornwall when staying at the family’s holiday home, Ferryside, on the River Fowey.   

It was through this that she met Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (May 12th) whose daughter, Foy, became one of her best friends.  Another close friend was the writer C.C. Rogers (Lady Vyvyan) (March 1st)

It has been suggested that, although Manderley, in ‘Rebecca’ was based on Menabilly, her home for twenty years, the woodlands and the interior of the fictional house were based not on Menabilly but on Rogers’ home, Trelowarren which was also the inspiration for the house and its riverside location in ‘Frenchman’s Creek’. 

Kate Kellaway summed her up perfectly when writing ‘Du Maurier was mistress of calculated irresolution. She did not want to put her readers' minds at rest. She wanted her riddles to persist.  She wanted the novels to continue to haunt us beyond their endings.

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