An Imagined Dialogue between Daphne du Maurier and Susan Bamblett
My grandmother introduced me to Daphne du Maurier at the age of twelve, and Rebecca was the book that inspired me to write. Each teenage summer I equipped myself with a new notebook and shut myself away to create my masterpiece. But then life got in the way - boyfriend, marriage, children, teaching qualification, career. It is only now, in retirement, that I have found the time to follow my dream and study for my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.
Daphne shapes me as a writer, she permeates my creative writing like some sort of spirit or muse. It is because of the influence of Daphne on my life and writing, that I decided to use the opportunity provided by my dissertation to undertake a journey with her, in order to come to know us both better as writers. My research adopted an autoethnographic approach because this allowed me to position myself and Daphne at the heart. I resisted conventional academic discourse by deploying the use of evocative storytelling and this enabled me to get up close and personal, examining overlaps and links between Daphne’s life and my own. The process of weaving our stories together led to the development a new research method, imbued with literary research. The resulting ‘imagined dialogue’ enhanced my knowledge of Daphne, shifted my perception of myself as a writer and evolved my writing process. This method offers other writers’ similar opportunities to improve their process and practice. In addition, it provides a unique research model contributing to autoethnographic research in the humanities, which values and legitimises the use of creative writing as research.
The following extract is the ‘imagined dialogue’ section from my dissertation.