‘Families are the soil out of which character grows, and there is no richer compost than the relationship of sisters,’ the biographer Jane Dunn explains. Her previous subjects have included the cousin-queens Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. Now she has turned her attention to the du Maurier sisters, who have provided her with a wealth of material even though the eldest, Angela, ensured that nearly all her personal papers were destroyed, and the youngest, Jeanne, always refused to cooperate with anyone writing about herself or her family. But Daphne, the most famous of the three, left a great archive of letters and private papers.
Margaret Forster wrote a detailed and authoritative biography of Daphne du Maurier, and there is another by Judith Cook. Du Maurier’s daughter Flavia Leng wrote a memoir and Justine Picardie featured her in a novel. Several academics and amateurs have written studies of her life and work, and Michael Williams’s