Margaret Forster: Daphne du Maurier research papers

Scope and Content

The archive consists of research materials created and collected by Margaret Forster for the official biography of Daphne du Maurier (London: Chatto and Windus, 1993). The papers include correspondence, research notes and corrections, video and audio cassettes of interviews with du Maurier and others, original and copy reviews, articles, news items and memorabilia. The archive also holds copies of correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Margaret Forster was born in Carlisle in 1938. She was educated at the county high school in Carlisle and at Somerville College, Oxford, where she was awarded a degree in history. The day after she finished her finals she married journalist Hunter Davies. She became a schoolteacher in Islington, North London between 1961 and 1963, before embarking on a writing career. Since 1963, Margaret Forster has worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to Radio 4 and various newspapers and magazines. She was a member of the BBC Advisory Committee on the Social Effects of Television from 1975-77 and of the Arts Council Literary Panel from 1978-81, as well as the chief non-fiction reviewer for the London Evening Standard from 1977-80.

During her long career as a biographer and novelist she has written over thirty works of fiction and non-fiction. Her first novel, 'Dame's Delight' (1964), was published when she was 24 and her second, 'Georgy Girl' (1965) made her name and was filmed in 1966 with a screenplay by Margaret Forster and Peter Nichols. Her other novels include 'Have the Men Had Enough?' (1989), the bestselling 'Lady's Maid' (1990) , 'Mother's Boys' (1994), 'The Memory Box' (1999), 'Good Wives' (2001), and 'Diary of an Ordinary Woman' (2004). Forster's published non-fiction includes 'The Rash Adventurer', 'William Makepeace Thackeray', 'Significant Sisters' and 'Elizabeth Barrett Browning'.

Forster's biography 'Daphne du Maurier' was meticulously researched and she was allowed access to previously unpublished letters and papers which revealed that, in contrast with her external persona of easy charm, du Maurier shied away from the limelight and social gatherings and her private and inner life was often one of emotional extremes. Forster's biography argues that throughout her life, du Maurier felt that her inner sense of identity was repressed and she referred to this as 'the boy in the box' who, from time to time would emerge to take control of Daphne, the woman. This ambiguity in her sexuality appears to have been heavily influenced by the claustrophobic relationship she had with her father, actor-manager Gerald du Maurier.

Forster's biography was the winner of the Fawcett Society Book Prize.


Forster's own arrangement has largely been maintained.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive contains a proportion of materials which are exempt from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (section 41) as information given in confidence and which is further protected by Common Law Confidentiality. Certain materials are also subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Parts of this archive are therefore closed as confidential and others are identified as of a sensitive nature under the Data Protection Act. The University has set a review date of 2015 when closure decisions relating to data identified as subject to the Data consultation with the relevant data subjects.

Other Finding Aids

The archive is catalogued.


Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Christine Faunch, Archivist 04 Sept 2007 and modified in June 2008. Listed by Helen Jones in April 2009. Revised by Christine Faunch, Archivist, 7 May 2009, 16 Aug 2010, 12 Jan 2012.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is subject to restrictions in copying.

Appraisal Information

Appraised by Margaret Forster prior to donation.

Related Material

Princeton Universty Library, Ellen McCarter Doubleday Papers, 1930s-1978 (C0747) holds letters from Daphne du Maurier to Ellen Doubleday. The library holds the following papers relating to Daphne du Maurier and her family, EUL MSS 206, 207, 276, 301, 306, 341, 342, 346, 351. Other papers of Daphne du Maurier, particularly her letters, are held at many other repositories including the following: Bath Reference Library; Bodleian Library; BBC Written Archives Centre; British Library Department of Manuscripts; Cambridge University Library; Eton College Library; Manchester University (John Rylands Library); National Library of Scotland; Princeton University Library Manuscripts Division, USA; Rhodes House Library; University of Durham Library; University of Bradford Library; University of Bristol Library; University of Warwick (Modern Records Centre); West Yorkshire Archive Service. Sound recordings of interviews with du Maurier are held at the British Library National Sound Archive. Papers relating to George du Maurier are held at the following repositories: Pierpont Morgan Library, USA; Huntington Library, USA; Victoria and Albert Museum (National Art Library); National Library of Scotland; Dorset County Museum. Papers relating to Guy du Maurier (1865-1915) are held at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, USA. A duplicate copy of the Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies memorial photograph album (EUL MS 207/3/1) is held at the National Portrait Gallery. aphne du Maurier and her family, EUL MSS 144, 206, 207, 276, 301, 341, 342, 346, 351. Other papers of Daphne du Maurier are held at the following repositories: West Yorkshire Archive Service; Cambridge University Library; University of Manchester (John Rylands Library) and the University of Warwick (Modern Records Centre)