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Margaret Forster's Autobiography
I wonder why I feel a great amount of sadness at reading about the last chapter of DDM's life at Kilmarth, especially the fact she was unable to find any inspiration to write a new book, coupled with her ailing health and the constant need for expensive carers. Added to that, it seems, the reluctance of her close family's failure to visit her at her hour of need, because the grand children had grown older and lost all interest in her.
Tue 28/05/24 10:56 AM
Biography is a tricky thing, isn't it? Don't you think that reading biography is often sad in the end, as the person you have grown to admire begins to fail and somehow diminishes into old age? Also, we only get the author's perspective of the person they are writing about. Margaret Forster provided a mass of facts and information about Daphne du Maurier, her writing and her life. However, she presented a rather one-sided view of her personality, which made her appear somewhat humourless and lacking in empathy. This is not the whole picture of who Daphne was. She was single-minded where her writing was concerned, and to produce the volume and quality of work that she did would have required her absolute commitment. Still, she undoubtedly had a lighter and fun side to her, especially when she wasn't working. Daphne had many friends and a loving relationship with her children and grandchildren, which became increasingly important to her after she became a widow and as she got older. She also had a genuine affection for and interest in her fans, many of whom wrote to her and always received replies. She usually wrote quite extensive letters to them, answering their questions and advising them if they asked for help. There is a much more rounded personality to Daphne than the one we read about in Margaret Forster's biography. The last few years of Daphne's life were difficult ones, as they often are for elderly people, and she was lost without her ability to write. I think it is safe to say that she suffered from depression and perhaps the beginnings of dementia, as she did get muddled and needed more care than her secretary and housekeeper, Esther Rowe, could provide for her on her own. So, she did have live-in care. This seems a sensible option, taken by people who can afford it, enabling them to stay at home in familiar and much-loved surroundings. I don't see this in any way as neglect by her family, who did, of course, all live some distance away. Daphne's family and closest friends, particularly Maureen and Monty Baker-Munton, visited often and were in constant touch, just as they had always been. Old age is frequently a sad time, and indeed, the end of Daphne's life was not easy, but there is no doubt she was supported and loved to the end. Ann Willmore (on behalf of the Daphne du Maurier website). Posted on Tue 28/05/24 11:05 AM
Thank you for your input Ann, it is much appreciated. As you rightly say, old age decline awaits us all, no-one escapes that decline. The strong person one admires suddenly loses all their abilities, and in Daphne's case, her ability to continue to write. That, coupled in much later life, with her inability to walk, as she so freely did with Wilfred De'Ath. It also brings home the fear of one's own decline and fears. Thanks again. Posted on Wed 29/05/24 03:32 PM

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