13 May 1907


19 April 1989

Known for

Daphne du Maurier moved to Cornwall as a young woman, living near Fowey. She became a famous writer, with several of her books being inspired by the Cornish landscape.

Daphne du Maurier a removas dhe Gernow avel benen yowynk, ha triga ogas dhe Fowydh. Hi eth ha bos skrifores a vri, ha nebes a’y lyvrow o awenys gans tirwedh Kernow.

Daphne du Maurier's house Ferryside at Boddinick near Fowey
The inspiration for the festival, Daphne du Maurier, lived here at Boddinick, near Fowey Reproduced courtesy of Andrew Besley as featured on
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Arrival in Cornwall

Daphne grew up in London as part of a rich and well-known family. Her father was the actor Sir Gerald du Maurier, and her grandfather George had been a famous writer and cartoonist. When she was 19, Daphne’s parents bought a house in Bodinnick, near Fowey. 

She found that she was much happier in Cornwall than the city, and her parents chose to let her stay. While exploring Fowey, she came across an old boat called Jane Slade. Fascinated by its history, she wrote her first Cornish novel, The Loving Spirit.

Daphne went on to write many novels set in Cornwall, such as RebeccaJamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek. She was also a member of the Cornish political party Mebyon Kernow.

Daphne du Maurier as a young woman
Daphne du Maurier

Finding Menabilly

Not long after coming to Cornwall, Daphne fell in love with a manor house called Menabilly. Hidden among trees and left empty, it seemed like a magical place: she called it her ‘house of secrets’. After many years, its owners, the Rashleigh family, agreed to rent the house to Daphne. It was at Menabilly that she wrote many of her novels. 

...slowly, softly, with no one there to see, the house whispers her secrets, and the secrets turn to stories. Daphne du Maurier, The Rebecca Notebook

Writing about Cornwall

Daphne enjoyed writing about Cornwall and its history. To do this, she carried out careful research and looked at documents dating back hundreds of years. Her book The King’s General was inspired by the history of Menabilly during the 1600s. In particular, she was interested in the story that the body of a Civil War soldier had once been found bricked up in the walls of the house.

Many of Daphne’s novels and short stories were later made into films, some by the famous director Alfred Hitchcock.

Vanishing Cornwall

In 1967, Daphne wrote a book called Vanishing Cornwall. In it, she explored ‘the spirit and history of Cornwall’, picking out the local stories she found most interesting. She also wrote about her concerns for Cornwall’s future and the effect of tourism. Around the same time, she joined the Cornish political party Mebyon Kernow. It was her belief that Cornwall couldn’t rely on tourism for its future and should develop a strong industry once again.

If successive governments continue to ignore Cornwall’s demand for assistance and investment in an industrial revival we may see another rebellion yet Daphne du Maurier, Vanishing Cornwall

Daphne’s Fowey

Today, Daphne has become part of the history of Fowey. Local bookshops sell her works and each year a festival takes place dedicated to writing and music. 



Letters from Menabilly

Du Maurier, D, Letters from Menabilly (1993)

The Rebecca Notebook

Du Maurier, D, The Rebecca Notebook: and Other Memories (1980)

Vanishing Cornwall

Du Maurier, D, Vanishing Cornwall (1967)

Daphne du Maurier

Forster, M, Daphne du Maurier (1994)

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