Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907, the second daughter of Muriel and Gerald du Maurier. Born into a talented, theatrical and artistic family, she was blessed with a vivid imagination and a desire to write.
This desire was nurtured further by her immediate love for Cornwall, after her parents purchased a holiday home at Bodinnick near Fowey on the coast.
It was whilst staying there, at the house, re-named Ferryside, she wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit (published in 1931). A story set in the fictitious town of Plyn; it was woven around the lives of local Cornish boat builders and their history.
In 1932 Daphne du Maurier married Major-General Sir Frederick Browning and in 1943 they moved to Cornwall with their three children. She went on to become one of the most successful authors of all time. Her most famous works include The Birds, Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel and, of course, Jamaica Inn.
Daphne du Maurier's passing in 1989 was a great loss, both to literature and to Cornwall and we have created a memorial room to her at Jamaica Inn.
The room is full of memorabilia, including her Sheraton writing desk on top of which is a packet of du Maurier cigarettes named after her father. There's also as a dish of Glacier Mints - Dame Daphne's favourite sweets.
Some of her books were turned into very successful films including Rebecca, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as well as The Birds, starring Tippi Hendren and Rod Taylor. The novel Jamaica Inn was her first big commercial success. The film starred Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara. All three films were directed by Alfred Hitchcock. During her career she wrote a total of thirty-eight books, but it is her Cornish-based books that remain the most popular with her readers.
On a cold and eerie night in 1930, writer Daphne du Maurier stayed at Jamaica Inn on the windswept moorlands of Bodmin. The atmosphere and legendary history of the Inn inspired her to write her most famous and compelling novel.
The story tells the tale of Mary, an orphan who goes to live with her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss Merlyn, the terrifying landlord of Jamaica Inn, and the mystery surrounding her uncle's business of smuggling along the Cornish coast.