Discover more from Newton’s Tales of the Macabre
Spotlight on Dame Daphne du Maurier
One of the LGBT horror authors who most inspired me.
Daphne du Maurier has long been an inspiration for me. When I was home and had access to the Webb family library, I could reacquaint myself with her work.
Born in London in 1907, she was the daughter of an actress and actor-manager. She was also the cousin of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who served as J. M. Barrie's inspiration for the characters in the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.
Daphne's family connections allowed her to meet all the celebs of the theatre, which helped her launch her writing career. She wrote novels, biographies, and other non-fiction books, some of which were adapted into films by Alfred Hitchcock, including Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and The Birds. She married Frederick "Boy" Browning in 1932 and had three kids, and was later named a Dame of the British Empire.
After her death in 1989, it was revealed that she was bisexual. A little known fact that had utterly escaped me. It explains the sexual overtones in her stories, both overt and discreet.
Recommended Stories by Daphne du Maurier:
The Birds: The Birds is a classic horror story about a small town that is terrorised by flocks of birds. It was my introduction to Daphne via the medium of Hitchcock's movie. The story follows a small group of people as they attempt to survive the onslaught of the birds and discover the cause of their changed behavior. It is a VERY different cause to that in the movie.
The Blue Lenses: The Blue Lenses is a fantastical story about a woman who undergoes an eye operation that gives her the ability to see the true nature of people around her. It is responsible for me rediscovering Daphne as an adult. I reread her material after reading a review of The Blue Lenses. The protagonist discovers a dark and sinister world beneath the veneer of normality and is forced to confront the inner workings of the people she thought she knew. The story is a fascinating exploration of the power of perception and the consequences of seeing too much.
Don't Look Now: A suspenseful and creepy mystery novel set in Venice. The story follows John and Laura, a couple on holiday in Venice, who are struggling to heal following the death of their daughter. As they explore the city, they realise a mysterious figure in red is following them. The story is full of unexpected twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end.
Kiss Me Again Stranger: A thrilling story of revenge and mystery. I really recommend this if you want something different. The story follows a nameless young man who has the misfortune of meeting a stunning usherette at the movies. Given that she wrote the story in 1951, it is refreshing to find such an interesting character for the femme fatale. There are no supernatural elements here. They are not needed.
Not After Midnight: A rather ambiguous story, I love anything related to Ancient Greece and this thought-provoking story is included in that, even if only due to the discovery of ancient relics. Du Maurier's portrayed numerous female characters suffering under the yoke of overbearing husbands or in loveless marriages, and this story has one of them. I wonder if she found her own heterosexual marriage to be stifling her bisexuality and sexual experimentation?
A Borderline-Case: The story follows a young woman, Sarah, who, after sitting at her father's deathbed, delves into his past and in the process begins a journey of dark, sexual self-discovery.
The Breakthrough: The story follows a group of scientists who are experimenting to discover the secrets of the afterlife. As they delve deeper into their research, their research develops moral quandaries and uncertainties.