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Daphne du Maurier

The official Daphne du Maurier website, approved by her Estate

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Articles on the Arthur Quiller-Couch Website that are sure to be of interest to you

Jane Prince writes some superb papers for the Arthur Quiller-Couch website.  The Daphne du Maurier website introduced you to her in August when she wrote Edwardian Children to Modern Women: the Friendship of Foy Quiller-Couch, Daphne du Maurier, Clara Vyvyan and Oenone Rashleigh.  This article was full of great information about the women that Daphne made friends with when she was a young woman and with whom she maintained friendships throughout her life.  To read our introduction to Jane's paper, please click here and then follow our link to the Arthur Quiller-Couch website to read Jane's full article.

We want to tell you about two more of Jane's papers today.  The first is entitled Women's Contribution to the Scientific and Intellectual Life of Penzance in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  In this paper, Jane looks at some amazing women whose achievements would have been impressive in a later century but who are truly remarkable when set in their actual time frame.  Daphne du Maurier, whose interest in the Brontė family was life-long and certainly influenced her writing, was interested in the fact that the Brontė sisters' mother, Maria Branwell, was born in Penzance, as was her sister Elizabeth, of course.  The latter moved to Haworth and looked after the Brontė family following the early death of Maria.  This paper includes many interesting references to Maria Branwell. 
To read this article, please click here

The second paper concerns Helene Hanff, a fascinating American writer (1916 – 1997) and is called Helene Hanff and Q's Legacy.  In it, Jane examines the effect Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's writing had on Helene's life and writing career.  We discover that Helene Hanff's parents could not afford to send her to college.  So instead, she obtained a one-year scholarship to Temple University.  However, at the end of that year, she felt she had been taught no English literature, which was all she had wanted to learn.  So she decided that she needed to educate herself and went to her local library to search for books on English literature.  Helene found On the Art of Writing by the British writer and educator Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, and this book was her starting point.  Over the next two years, while working at a number of office jobs, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's books were her guide.  She saved money from her wages and bought Sir Arthur's volumes of Cambridge Lectures.  These led her to many more books, and because Sir Arthur was British and it was easier to buy his books and the ones he referred to from the UK, she developed a relationship with the London bookshop located at 84 Charing Cross Road and bought her books from them.  Helene's story is described in several of her books, beginning with 84 Charing Cross Road, published in 1970.
Please click here to read Jane's paper. 

Incidentally, we have our own short tale about Helene Hanff and the Cornish bookshop Bookends of Fowey.  As many of you know, my husband and I ran Bookends from 2003 until 2020.  Our predecessor was Christine Alexander, who ran the bookshop from the 1980s until 2003.  During her time in the shop, she had a visit from a friend of Helene's, who was on holiday in Cornwall.  Helene had asked her to try to buy a book by Sir Arthur from the bookshop in Fowey.  Christine was able to do one better than that and gave Helene's friend a small book from Sir Arthur's own library that she had in stock at the time.  Helene was so delighted that she wrote to thank Christine.  Much later, when going through some of the papers Christine had left for me, I found Helene's letter, which included her New York address.  So in 2008, when we were in New York, we decided to seek out the address.  To our surprise, the apartment building had been renamed Charing Cross House.  It was a typical Manhattan apartment block with a doorman who kindly produced a folder of information about Helene to show us.  I found the books that Helene Hanff wrote absolutely fascinating, and during all the years that we owned Bookends, we always tried to keep at least one or two of Helene's books in stock, sat beside the rows of Sir Arthur's books, to encourage other people's interest in her and her work.

November 2022.

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