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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-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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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099333319
ISBN-10: 0099333317
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 29mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Arrow Books Ltd
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 3-Jan-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » One of those rare biographies of popular icons - in this case, the author of Rebecca - that puts truth-telling ahead of mudslinging or whitewashing. Authorized to write this life by the Du Maurier family, and drawing on hitherto unpublished letters - including a cache of previously unknown love letters between Du Maurier and actress Gertrude Lawrence - British novelist/biographer Forster (Lady's Maid, 1991; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1989, etc.) reveals a woman who, despite an appearance of happiness, was tortured by fears and disturbing ideas. Born into an illustrious family - her father was a noted actor-manager, her grandfather a celebrated artist and novelist - Du Maurier grew up in a lively London household where friends like J.M. Barrie and Edgar Wallace visited frequently. She was a moody, difficult child: Her mother was cold and aloof, and her father, whose closeness and attention she'd enjoyed as a child, became morbidly possessive as she grew older. Stunningly beautiful yet ill-at-ease in conventional company, Du Maurier was troubled by her awareness "that there was no escape from being a girl [and that] she had forced herself to lock up in a box the boy she had at heart thought herself to be." Sexually attracted to women, she was also distinctly homophobic, a contradiction that would plague her throughout her life. Forster perceptively describes Du Maurier's affair with a lesbian French teacher; her marriage to "Boy" Browning, a famous general and subsequent member of the royal household; her relations with her three children; her great love for Gertrude Lawrence; and her writing, particularly Rebecca. Writing, it seems, not only allowed Du Maurier to be the family bread-winner but, more importantly, offered her release from her great "fear of reality." She "lived to write." Biography of the most exemplary kind, and, in its own way, as haunting an evocation of a troubled woman as Rebecca itself. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Margaret Forster

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster is the author of many successful novels - including Lady's Maid, Have the Men Had Enough?, The Memory Box, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Keeping the World Away and most recently Over - as well as bestselling memoirs, and biographies of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Daphne du Maurier. She is married to writer and journalist Hunter Davies and lives in London and the Lake District.

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