Daphne Du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing
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Celebrated novelist Daphne Du Maurier and her sisters, eclipsed by her fame, are revealed in all their surprising complexity in this riveting new biography. The middle sister in a famous artistic dynasty, Daphne du Maurier is one of the master storytellers of our time, author of 'Rebecca', 'Jamaica Inn' and 'My Cousin Rachel', and short stories, 'Don't Look Now' and the terrifying 'The Birds' among many. Her stories were made memorable by the iconic films they inspired, three of them classic Hitchcock chillers. But her sisters Angela and Jeanne, a writer and an artist of talent, had creative and romantic lives even more bold and unconventional than Daphne's own. In this group biography they are considered side by side, as they were in life, three sisters who grew up during the 20th century in the glamorous hothouse of a theatrical family dominated by a charismatic and powerful father. This family dynamic reveals the hidden lives of Piffy, Bird & Bing, full of social non-conformity, love, rivalry and compulsive make-believe, their lives as psychologically complex as a Daphne du Maurier novel.
she said and then, turning to Flavia, added, ‘what a fuss. I expect he is enjoying himself and just wrote that to work her up.’4 In fact Kits was truly miserable and it took him a long time to settle in this alien and unsympathetic place. As a young girl, though much older than Kits, Angela had loathed being away from home and suffered horribly from homesickness. Her reaction showed such a remarkable lack of empathy and imagination it was possible that she too was jealous of her sister’s blind
on, with Daphne doing her duty, living in London more than Cornwall, her resentment and boredom combined with despair. Menabilly was abandoned while she whiled away her time in the unprepossessing flat, cooped up and unable to work. Instead by day, Daphne turned to paint and daubed her ‘out of proportion and very crude’ paintings as a relief for her feelings, although she thought they had a certain kind of power, ‘like paintings done by “madmen” (Perhaps I am!)’. By night she cooked Tommy’s steak
relationships with women, remained cynical about the possibility of love. The extent of sexual ignorance and unhappiness in marriage in society as a whole at the time was significant. This was more than twenty years before Kinsey and the results of his experiments into human sexuality burst into public consciousness. Marie Stopes’s revolutionary sex manual Married Love had been published a few years earlier and become an underground success but was officially dismissed (and banned as late as
just as she wished. She could write, take a boat out and go exploring in the company of Bingo, her faithful Cornish mongrel. She longed for nothing more. Every day she would let herself into Ferryside and work there in her room before returning to Miss Roberts’. Sunday supper with the Quiller-Couches at The Haven, their house on the Esplanade in Fowey, became a regular and welcome date, for no one knew more about Cornwall than ‘Q’. He was a much-loved character and Kenneth Grahame claimed him as
Italy as a resurrected Roman Empire, with him as Il Duce, was becoming more radical. Military expansionism into Africa and glorification of an exalted masculinity and traditional hierarchical values was growing ugly and dangerous for anyone who did not fit the iron-clad glove. Jewish, liberal, lesbian, thespian Micky, and her motley friends, were too obviously the types of decadent individual so vilified by this emergent fascist order that sought to create the new uomo fascista. In barely four