The du Maurier family have a fascinating history, with many of its members leading distinguished and well-documented careers. The family members represented in this collection include Louise Wallace (paternal aunt of George du Maurier), George du Maurier (illustrator, cartoonist and novelist), his son Gerald du Maurier (actor and manager) and his grand-daughter Daphne du Maurier (writer). Also included are papers relating to Sylvia du Maurier (sister to Gerald) and Angela du Maurier (sister to Daphne), as well as to many other lesser-known family members.
George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896) was a well-known illustrator and novelist. Born in Paris, he moved to London with the rest of his family in 1851, where he originally studied chemistry, followed by opera-singing and then art in Paris. He eventually returned from his studies abroad in 1860, becoming quickly established as a magazine illustrator, working for both Once a Week and Punch as a cartoonist. He married Emma Wightwick in 1863, and rapidly formed part of the Bohemian Hampstead circle. Friends of the family included Kate Greenaway, Sir Walter Besant, John Millais and George Eliot. Joining the Rabelais Club, he met other established literary figures, and illustrated the novels of Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. He also had illustrations published in other London literary magazine throughout his life, such as The Illustrated London News, Good Words, the Illustrated Times, London Society, the Sunday Magazine, The Leisure Hour, Harper's Magazine and the English Illustrated Magazine. He was also a successful novelist, publishing Peter Ibbetson (1889), Trilby (1894) and The Martian (1897).
Sir Gerald du Maurier (1873-1934) was an actor and theatrical manager, and was son of George du Maurier. He first appeared on the stage in 1895, playing a small part in a dramatization of Trilby at the Haymarket. His break came in 1902 during Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, at the Duke of York Theatre, where he met his later wife Muriel ('Mo') Beaumont (1881-1957) who was also an actor. (She appears to have been based predominantly at three London theatres, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, the Garrick Theatre and the Duke of York in the period 1898-1906, 1912, acting in a range of productions from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice to For Love of Prim and A Golden Wedding by Eden Philpotts). Gerald du Maurier was the first actor to play the parts of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook in Barrie's Peter Pan (1904).Other successes included E.W. Hornung's Raffles, Arsene Lupin at the Comedy Theatre (1906) and Alias Jimmie Valentine (1910) by Paul Armstrong. He then moved into theatre management with Frank Curzon at Wyndham's Theatre, whilst continuing his acting career. He was knighted in 1922 for his services to theatre. Film roles include The Living Dead (1936), I was a Spy (1934), Power (1934), Catherine the Great (1934), Lord Camber's Ladies (1932) and Escape (1930).
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (ne du Maurier) (1867-1910) was another of the five children of George du Maurier, and elder sister to Gerald. She was a renowned beauty and socialite of her day, and married the lawyer Arthur Llewelyn Davies. She later became famous for her friendship with J.M. Barrie, with her five sons forming an inspiration for the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Following the death of her husband and herself from cancer within a few years of each other, Barrie later unofficially adopted the boys. Her son Peter was the publisher of Daphne du Maurier's work on George du Maurier The Young George du Maurier, letters 1860-1867 (1951).
Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was the second daughter of Gerald and Muriel du Maurier. She grew up in Cumberland Terrace, London, and Cannon Hall, Hampstead, but the family developed strong links with Cornwall after buying a riverside house near Fowey, and it was in Cornwall that Daphne settled. She began publishing stories and articles in 1928; her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931 by Heineman. Then followed The Progress of Julius (Heineman, 1933) and Gerald, a portrait (Gollancz, 1934) before her first enduring success, Jamaica Inn, which was published by Gollancz in 1936. Two years later she published her most significant and best-loved novel, Rebecca. Besides these she published a number of other novels, short-stories and biographical portraits, blending history and literary art in some, while developing her own unique vision of the macabre in others. She published one volume of autobiography, Growing Pains, about her early life in 1977. In 1932 she married Frederick A. M. Browning, later Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick (d1965); they had one son and two daughters.
Angela du Maurier (1904-2002) was the eldest of the three du Maurier sisters, and the elder of Daphne by three years. Originally aspiring to follow the family tradition of acting, she planned to be an actress and spent two seasons on the stage. She worked on the land in Cornwall during the war and travelled extensively in Europe. She later turned to writing, with the release of her earlier works coinciding with the publication of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. She published eleven books in total, including two volumes of autobiography, It's Only the Sister (1951) and Old Maids Remember. Her works of fiction include The Road to Leenane, Pilgrims by the Way, The Perplexed Heart, Reveille and Treveryan. She lived at Ferryside, the family house in Cornwall, for most of her life.