Sex, Jealousy, and Gender

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, 80 years on

Du MaurierThis is a very interesting article on Daphne du Maurier, a fascinating and controversial character, as well as a supremely gifted author. While she is a romantic novelist, her books don’t necessarily have happy endings, while some can be brooding, mysterious, with a touch of the supernatural.

She was accused of plagiarism twice. First by Brazilian author Carolina Nabuca who claimed that Rebecca was copied from her book A Successora , and later by Frank Baker who claimed that her short story The Birds (made into a film ny Hitchcock) was plagiarised from his novel also called The Birds.

Rumours regarding her sexuality raise their head periodically, but the biography by Margaret Forster alleged a cache of love letters between Daphne and Gertrude Lawrence (who had an affair with Daphne’s father), but according to her close friend, journalist Michael Thornton, the letters never existed.

As an historian, I’m interested in the fact that she was married to ‘Boy’ Browning, (Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning), as soldier who served in both the First and the Second World War. At the age of 18, he graduated from Sandhurst and went to the front with the Grenadier Guards in August 1915. He served with distinction throughout that war. During World War 2, he was part of both the North Africa and the Burma Campaigns, but most famously Operation Market Garden. Probably most familiar as the film A Bridge Too Far, (allegedly a phrase said by Browning); actor Dirk Bogarde reprised the role of Browning in the film.

 

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