Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Du Maurier, Daphne

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(1907-1989) UK writer best-known for nonsupernatural Gothic novels like Rebecca (1938). The protagonist of her first novel, The Loving Spirit (1931), is as in much of DDM's fiction haunted by a Revenant, though in this case the Haunting is literal. Castle Dor (1962), a completion of A C Quiller-Couch's last novel, is a Twice-Told tale in which the story of Tristan and Iseult is replicated in 19th-century Cornwall. The House on the Strand (1969) is her most remarkable and sustained fantasy traversal of the darkness that underlies almost all her work. Although the Frame Story provides an exiguous sf rationale – the protagonist's experiences are caused by an experimental drug – the core is an extremely bleak romance of Timeslip. Cast back into 14th-century Cornwall, but invisible to those alive then, the protagonist increasingly finds life there more vivid and more real than 20th-century existence, and falls in love with a young girl (significantly named Isolde); at novel's close, when he plunges backwards again, he finds her dead, and his Shadow – through whom he has come to feel alive – dying of plague.

DDM's short Supernatural Fiction has become well known through movie versions of two stories: "The Birds", from The Apple Tree: A Short Novel and Some Stories (coll 1952; vt Kiss Me Again, Stranger 1953 US), was made into The Birds (1963) dir Alfred Hitchcock; and "Don't Look Now", from Not After Midnight (coll 1971; vt Don't Look Now 1971 US), was made into Don't Look Now (1973) dir Nicholas Roeg. Here, as in her novels, the overriding sensation is of ineradicable sadness; her protagonists are not so much threatened as brought to an awareness of their own haunted natures. [JC]

other works: The Progress of Julius (1933); My Cousin Rachel (1951); The Breaking Point (coll 1959); Rule Britannia (1972); Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories (coll 1976); Rendezvous and Other Stories (coll 1980); Classics of the Macabre (coll 1987; vt Daphne Du Maurier's Classics of the Macabre 1987 US) illus Michael Foreman.

see also: The Breakthrough (1993).

Daphne Du Maurier


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.