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Sir Gerald du Maurier was the preeminent actor-manager of his day, knighted in 1922 for his services to the theater. Published within six months of her father's death, Daphne du Maurier's frank portrait was considered shocking by many of his admirers—but it was a huge success, winning her critical acclaim and launching her career. Here, du Maurier captures the spirit and charm of the charismatic actor who played the original Captain Hook, amusingly recounting his eccentricities, his humor, as well as his darker ...
Sir Gerald du Maurier was the preeminent actor-manager of his day, knighted in 1922 for his services to the theater. Published within six months of her father's death, Daphne du Maurier's frank portrait was considered shocking by many of his admirers—but it was a huge success, winning her critical acclaim and launching her career. Here, du Maurier captures the spirit and charm of the charismatic actor who played the original Captain Hook, amusingly recounting his eccentricities, his humor, as well as his darker side.
Posted November 2, 2013
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A biographer or autobiographer has a choice: tell much or little about the subject's family. In her 1935 GERALD: A PORTRAIT, Dame Daphne du Maurier elected to fill half her tribute to her recently deceased actor father with his parents, siblings, wife, in-laws, children and nieces. Not to mention his fellow actors, early directors, authors like J.B. Priestley who based PETER PAN on his friend Gerald du Maurier's young nephews. ***
Rudyard Kipling's posthumous SOMETHING OF MYSELF wasted little ink on his ancestors but devoted a fair amount to his three children. Biographers have that choice. ***
Daphne du Maurier (1907 - 1989) came to believe that each of us is a spark an echo of every ancestor we ever had. To understand ourselves, therefore, we must amass as much fact and gossip, read as many letters and books written by grandfathers as we can, trace our ancestors back into the French Revolution. GERALD: A PORTRAIT was 27 year old Daphne's first piece of writing devoted to her family, especially to her father's father George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834 – 1896). From GERALD the distinct impression arises that Daphne would have been happier if genial, unflappable painter, satirist, PUNCH cartoonist and author of three novels, George, had been her father. ***
Unlike her father Gerald, grandfather George (who died before Daphne was born) would have been a confidant of Daphne's doubts of her sexuality, her first experiences of passion with young men and much more. Father Gerald had been fun when his three daughters were little girls. He would have preferred all of them to be boys and taught them cricket and other "manly" activities. And indeed until the onset of puberty, young Daphne hoped that she was really a boy wrapped around in a boy's body. Then Gerald du Maurier became obsessively jealous of her boyfriends and cut her no slack. He regretted that he was not her brother instead of her father. ***
Gerald du Maurier (1873 - 1934) was an innovative actor, bringing common sense and comic reality to his numerous roles from Captain Hook in PETER PAN for 40 years in the theater. Gerald du Maurier became very well off as a theater manager and play selector and director. And daughter Daphne never had to do any form of work (including cooking and cleaning house) a day in her life while under Gerald's roof. But he was a playboy, dallied with young actresses, had no interest in religion, did not push himself into possible greatness and could not stand to be alone. Parties, parties, parties -- all of which Daphne hated. * * *
For her love was long solitary walks along the cliffs and over the moors of her beloved Cornwall. To understand Daphne, we must grasp her father Gerald. To capture Gerald we do well to immerse ourself in everything available about his far more talented father George du Maurier. For starters I recommend that you read his novel TRILBY, with its great musician/hypnotist villain Svengali. At least watch the 1931 film SVENGALI with John Barrymore in the title role. -OOO=