Jul 24 • 48M

The Doll by Daphne du Maurier

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Classic Ghost Stories Podcasts: Tales from the Pens of the Masters, Bram Stoker, M R James, H P Lovecraft, Edith Wharton
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The Doll by Daphne du Maurier

Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning was born in 1907 in London in 1931 and died in 1989 in Cornwall. She is a famous novelist with such best-sellers as Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek, The Birds and the novella Don’t Look Now. This story is taken from a collection of short stories written before her famous novels. She was clearly fond of the name Rebecca for the dark-spirited anima-like femme fatale.

I did a recording of Don’t Look Now, which has proved to be my most popular recording on Youtube.

Her father was an actor and theatre manager who was knighted for her services to the arts.  Her mother Muriel Beaumont was also an actress.   Daphne’s sister Angela was also an author and an actress and her other sister Jeanne who was part of the painter colony in St Ives Cornwall.  Daphne and her sister Jeanne look very like their mother in the photographs on the internet.  Their cousins were the inspiration for the children in J M Barrie’s Peter Pan.  Her great-great-grandmother was mistress of Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany. 

She was born when the family were living in a rather grand house on Cumberland Terrace on the eastern side of Regent’s Park in a house that is now a grade I listed building designed by the famous architect John Nash. Her father’s success made this possible. 

Daphne du Maurier became more reclusive as she got more famous and spent her time n her beloved Cornwall. As she grew, the family had two houses — one in Hampstead, north London ( a grade II listed building from 1720) and a house in Fowey, Cornwall, where they lived exclusively during the Second World War.  She got married to a prominent soldier and had three children, of whom both girls married prominent soldiers. 

The Wiki notes that her marriage was somewhat chilly and she herself could be distant from her children. Her husband died in 1965, when she was 34.  She moved permanently to Kilmarth, Cornwall. She was made a dame (equivalent of a knight) in 1969 but was very reticent about mentioning it and never made much of it. After she died in 1989, biographers discussed whether she was a lesbian. Her sister Jeanne had a close relationship with another woman. She notes that her father always wanted a son and so she was a tomboy. Her children denied that she was a lesbian. When she died of heart failure aged 81, her body was privately cremated. 

In her obituary for du Maurier, Kate Kellaway said: “Du Maurier was mistress of calculated irresolution. She did not want to put her readers’ minds at rest. She wanted her riddles to persist. She wanted the novels to continue to haunt us beyond their endings.”

The Doll

This story was published in 1937, that is two years after the death of her husband, and one year before the publication of Rebecca.   Apparently she was only 21 when she wrote The Doll

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