George du Maurier Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The grandson of a Frenchman of noble family who had fled to England during the French Revolution, George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (dew MOHR-ee-ay) was born in Paris in 1834, the son of a French father and an English mother. In his youth he oscillated between Paris and London; his early education was conducted in Paris between 1847 and 1851. In 1851 he went to London to study chemistry at the wish of his father, who wanted to make a scientist of him. He had little interest in science, however, and in 1856 went back to Paris to study art. He soon moved to Antwerp to continue his work. During his student days in Paris he had many of the experiences that he was later to use as literary material. At age twenty-three he lost the sight in his left eye, and with it his hopes of becoming a painter.{$S[A]Maurier, George du;Du Maurier, George}

In 1860 he returned to England to begin his work as an illustrator, first for Once a Week and then for Punch, whose staff he joined in 1864 on the death of John Leech. Gradually he brought about a change in the subject matter of Punch’s drawings. Previously the satire had been directed at the foibles of the middle class; now the object was the fashionable world, particularly the nouveaux riches and those of literary pretensions. It has often been noted that, in addition to their artistic merits, du Maurier’s drawings, because of his close attention to the details of clothes and...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Du Maurier, Daphne. The du Mauriers. Garden City, N.Y.: The Literary Guild of America, 1937. Family reminiscences.

Du Maurier, George. The Young George du Maurier: A Selection of His Letters, 1860-1867, edited by Daphne du Maurier. New York: Doubleday, 1952. Correspondence and reminiscences.

James, Henry. “Du Maurier and London Society.” In Partial Portraits. 1899. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970. The first serious and detailed analysis of du Maurier’s pictorial satire of society in Punch in an essay titled “The Art of Fiction.”

Kelly, Richard. The Art of George du Maurier. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1995. Discusses du Maurier’s artistic achievement and contains 203 drawings, many of which were never previously reproduced.

Kelly, Richard. George du Maurier. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Examines du Maurier’s life, fiction, and drawings in considerable detail.

Ormond, Leonée. George du Maurier. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969. Biographical material.

Whitely, Derek Pepys. George du Maurier. New York: Pellegrina & Cudahi, 1948. Provides a brief account of his life and artwork; it also contains a checklist of books that he illustrated and reproduces several pencil studies published nowhere else.

Wood, T. Martin. George du Maurier, the Satirist of the Victorians: A Review of His Art and Personality. London: Chatto and Windus, 1913. A valuable treatment of du Maurier’s artwork before he joined the staff of Punch.