Daphne du Maurier
Born on the 13th May 1907 Daphne du Maurier was the second daughter of Sir Gerald du Maurier and the granddaughter of George du Maurier. She grew up in London with her sisters Angela and Jeanne and was educated at home by her governess. She had a close relationship with her father and it was he who encouraged her when she began writing stories and poetry at an early age.
The du Mauriers visited Cornwall for holidays throughout Daphne’s childhood, but it was not until 1926 that the family decided to look for a second home there. Arriving in Bodinnick-by-Fowey from Looe, Daphne, her mother and her two sisters discovered Ferryside, the house that was to become their home.
Daphne loved Cornwall and spent time at Ferryside whenever she could, it was there that she wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit.
It was this book that was to introduce Daphne to her future husband. Major Tommy (‘Boy’) Browning was so affected by the book that he sailed to Fowey to meet the author. They fell in love and in July 1932 were married at Lanteglos Church.
During the first ten years of their marriage Daphne only spent holidays in Cornwall but in 1943 while her husband was at war she rented a house in Fowey called Readymoney and lived there with her three children.
Years before whilst out walking she first discovered Menabilly, a house belonging to the Rashleigh family. She was fascinated by the place and now she was living in Cornwall she asked the family if she could rent the property. They agreed and in 1943 she moved into the house which was to provide inspiration for much of her writing.
When the lease on Menabilly expired in 1969 she moved to another house rented to her by the Rashleigh family, Kilmarth about a mile from Menabilly. By now Daphne had lived in Cornwall for nearly thirty years and it was by continuing her writing she was able to overcome her disappointment that her husband, who died in 1965, was not with her in her last home.
Dame Daphne du Maurier died on the 19th April 1989. Throughout her lifetime she wrote several novels and volumes of short stories, five biographies and her own autobiography. The place Cornwall held in her heart and the inspiration it provided was captured in many of her books.