Du Maurier Family Papers

Reference and contact details: GB 29 MS 207
Title: Du Maurier Family Papers
Dates of creation: 1816-1988
Held at: University of Exeter
Extent: 18 small boxes and 14 loose items
Name of Creator: Various members of the du Maurier family
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: English, French


Administrative/Biographical History

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 (née 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.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of papers relating to various members of the du Maurier family, as arranged below:

  • 207/1 Papers of Louise Wallace (née Busson/du Maurier)
  • 207/2 Papers of George du Maurier: Drawings and other art works; Correspondence; Other papers
  • 207/3 Papers of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (née du Maurier)
  • 207/4 Papers of Gerald du Maurier: Material relating to acting career; Other papers,
  • 207/5 Papers of Angela du Maurier
  • 207/6 Papers of Daphne du Maurier: Literary papers; Genealogical papers; Other papers

System of Arrangement

This deposit was received in two portions, the first of four boxes and the second of two boxes. All boxes have been merged in this description.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Held by the Library on deposit since 2002. A second deposit was made in 2003.

Access Conditions

Usual EUL arrangements apply.

Copyright/Reproduction

Usual EUL copying restrictions apply.

Note

A more detailed description of the original order and provenance of this collection is also available.

Further Information

Finding Aids

A handlist is available.

Related Units of Description

The Library holds the following collections relating to the du Maurier family: EUL MS 144 and EUL MS 206. 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). 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); the National Library of Scotland and Dorset County Museum. Papers relating to Guy du Maurier (1865-1915) are held at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, USA.

Publication Note

Not known.