Writer Daphne du Maurier was born in London. She used her father’s French-sounding surname instead of her husband’s, Browning, when she achieved literary success. Her father was an actor and her husband a senior officer in the British Army. She apparently used the name Lady Browning when at home. She apparently wasn’t much of a traveler. She did go to school in France when she was 18. In 1936 she joined her husband in Egypt at a military post but hated it and returned to England the next year. She loved Cornwall and set many stories there. She loved it enough to collaborate on a travel book about it with her son.
There’s quite a tribute to her in the Fowey town museum. I learned here that she had 2 sisters and 3 children. By 1926, when she was 19, her family was looking for a 2nd home in the Fowey area, and Daphne finally settled in Bodinnick across the deep harbor from Fowey. For the 1st ten years of her marriage she didn’t spend much time in Cornwall due to her husband’s career. The museum display said that she found her dream house, Menabilly, in the area in 1943 and rented it. When she became famous as a writer, some say she became something of a recluse. She lived in Menabilly until 1969.
She had great success as a writer from the beginning and over time produced 15 novels and 11 non-fiction books according to the museum tribute. Alfred Hitchcock claimed that she was his favorite writer, and he turned 3 of her works–Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and The Birds–into films. Rebecca is the one to see, especially for Judith Anderson’s performance as Mrs. Danvers. It was Hitchcock’s first American film and it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Oddly, Hitchcock never won for Best Director! My Cousin Rachel has been filmed twice. The 2017 movie starring Rachel Weisz is in theaters now and, in my opinion, is far superior to the 1952 version that starred scenery-chewing Richard Burton and too sweet Olivia de Havilland. Daphne du Maurier said that among her works her favorite book-to-movie was Don’t Look Now. She was quite a success during her lifetime and still sells. Jamaica Inn, which was much criticized as a film, became a 2014 mini-series. People seem to love her gloomy stories that often have tragic endings–fires, falls from cliffs, etc. I suspect she would have failed as a comedy writer although I love this quote attributed to her, “Women want love to be a novel, men a short story.”