Daphne du Maurier and Cornwall

Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier (May 13 1907-April 19 1989) was an author and playwright who had a deep love for Cornwall. In total she wrote 15 novels, 12 non-fiction books, 3 plays and a number of collections of short stories. Her novels "Rebecca" and "Jamaica Inn", set in Cornwall, were adapted for film and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. "Frenchman's Creek" published in 1941 was made into a film in 1944 and directed by Mitchell Leisen. Amongst other of her works adapted for the screen were "The Birds" (directed by Alfred Hitchcock) and "Don't Look Now" (directed by Nicholas Roeg).

Daphne du Maurier was born in London, one of three sisters; the elder was writer Angela du Maurier (1902-2002) and the younger painter Jeanne du Maurier (1911-1996). Her father was actor-manager Gerald du Maurier (1873-1934) and her mother actor Muriel Beaumont (1881-1957). Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall for many years where she died in 1989.

Her love of Cornwall developed from the time her parents bought a holiday home in Bodinick. Her first novel "The Loving Spirit" was written while she was there and published in 1931. Daphne du Maurier drew inspiration for much of her work from Cornwall. She lived at Menabilly House near Fowey between 1943 and 1969. Following the death of her husband Daphne du Maurier moved to Kilmarth, a house close by and which was the setting for her book "The House on the Strand". She remained there until her passing. Daphne du Maurier had a keen interest in Cornish history and a love of Cornwall. She was a member of the Cornish national political party Mebyon Kernow www.mebyonkernow.org.


Daphne du Maurier's Cornwall

"Daphne du Maurier's Cornwall" by Bret Hawthorne looks at the locations that inspired her writing. The book is beautifully illustrated.



Jamaica Inn

Daphne du Maurier's novel "Jamaica Inn" was first published in 1936 and is set in 1820s Cornwall. It tells the story of Mary Yellan who was brought up on a farm in Helford. She goes to live with her Aunt and Uncle who was proprietor of Jamaica Inn in Bodmin Moor (Cornish: Goon Brenn). The story follows the exploits of a group of ship wreckers and ruthless murderers and Mary's love for Jem the landlord's brother. The real Jamaica Inn is still in existence and is located close to Bolventor on Bodmin Moor. Reputedly haunted, the Inn dates from 1750 when it was built as a coaching house.

The film "Jamaica Inn", adapted from Daphne du Maurier's book, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939. It starred Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara.




"Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier was published in 1938 and tells the story the story of a woman's love for and marriage to Maximilian de Winter. In the book which starts with the line, 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again' she reminisces of their meeting and her arrival at his estate in Cornwall. The haunting shadow of his drowned first wife Rebecca hangs over the house. The sinister and intimidating figure of Mrs Danvers, housekeeper and devoted servant to Rebecca dominates Manderley. The houses dark secrets are revealed as the body of Maximilian de Winter's first wife is discovered in a sunken boat off the nearby coast. Menabilly House near Fowey in Cornwall, where Daphne du Maurier lived for many years, was said to have been the inspiration for the setting of Manderley.

The 1940 film "Rebecca", adapted from Daphne du Maurier's novel, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It won two Academy Awards (Oscars) including best picture. The film starred Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson.



Frenchman's Creek

Daphne du Maurier's historical novel "Frenchman's Creek" is largely set in Cornwall at the time of Charles II. It tells the story of Dona, Lady St. Columb and her love for the French pirate Jean-Benoit Aubéry. The film adaption of the novel made in 1944 was directed by Mitchell Leisen and starred Joan Fontaine, Arturo de Córdova and Basil Rathbone.


Index of Daphne du Maurier's written works