Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Growing Pains by Daphne Du Maurier

Much of my love of reading came from my dad's almost obsessive love of books. He spent many hours in and around bookstores - especially musty old used book stores - looking for some of the more elusive titles of his favorite authors and subjects. His collection eventually got so big he had to resort to using metal shelving units in the basement to accommodate the (sorted and alphabetized) overflow. I didn't really appreciate any of this until he passed away and I inherited many of these same books, most of which I gave away or sold, the spy novels and political thrillers and such. But there were a few others I hung onto because they were either beautiful leather or linen bound antiques, or they just sounded like something I might want to pick up and read sometime in the future. So, having just recently read my own copy of Rebecca (I'm sure my dad's copy ended up in a thrift store somewhere, because -ehn- I thought it was a  romance novel . . . ) I immediately reached for this odd little book from his collection that had been sitting on my bookshelf, ignored, for years.

Growing Pains, The Shaping of a Writer by Daphne Du Maurier. Published in 1977 in celebration of her 70th birthday. I believe this book is now out of print, unless this is the same as the more current Myself When Young.

From the inside flap -

Grand-daughter of the brilliant artist and writer George du Maurier, daughter of Gerald, the most famous actor-manager of his day, she had creativity in her blood. She was deeply attached to her parents and sisters and to the other members of a closely knit family, yet she followed an intensely imaginative life of her own, acting out the books she read, writing stories and poetry when she was still quite small. In this sense she existed on two levels; and not until her parents bought the house in Cornwall where, in happy solitude, she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit, did she begin to find herself as a person. 

It provides a remarkable insight into the mind of a woman who has become a famous writer but nevertheless succeeded in remaining a person of great warmth, integrity and wisdom. 

All very interesting, but I like her own words best.

Our new home was altogether different. The night-nursery, which Jeanne and I shared, had its own bathroom and lavatory. This was a promotion indeed. No longer a nurse to supervise but a children's maid, whose orders we could disregard. The day-nursery was on the other side of the house, and could be reached in three separate ways: by running down the imposing main staircase, going through the dining-room, and running up a secondary staircase known as the green stairs; by running up the back staircase, which was outside the night-nursery door, along the white corridor on the second floor outside Mum and Dad's bedrooms, and so down the higher flight of green stairs; and by crossing the the first floor landing and slipping through the double drawing-room, which took about one minute.
These last two methods were unpopular with the grown-up world, but when they were out of the way a superb race could be set in motion between Jeanne and myself, one taking the first alternative, the other the second. pg 36


Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I absolutely adore Daphne du Maurier. I really do need to read more of the biographies, etc.!

Sidne,the BCR said...

taking some time to stop by those i follow to catch up on what you are reading. I like that Reader's Bill of Rights.