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Please note: while Dame Daphne du Maurier approved in principle of the suggestion for a book about her father, she felt that she had said all she had to say on the subject in her own published writings.  This biography, therefore has no family sanction.
For more information on Dame Daphne du Maurier, please see the fan website: www.dumaurier.org.


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Gerald du Maurier, published 1989, was Harding's fourth biography set against the backdrop of early 20th century British theatre.
Reviews of Gerald du Maurier
'Fascinating and comprehensive biography of an acting giant.' Oxford Times
'As always with Harding, there are incidental pleasures that spring from his knowledge and excitement.' Sunday Times

The book
Gerald du Maurier (1873-1934), was the matinée idol par excellence.  Deceptively simple and naturalistic, his individualistic style of acting swept away the mannered attitudes of his flamboyant predecessors and offered the more subtle virtues of understatement.  Few people, realised, however, that his nonchalant technique was the result of laborious rehearsal and detailed preparation.  For nearly thirty years, fifteen of them as his own manager at Wyndham's Theatre, he entranced admiring West End audiences with a charm and a magnetism that captivated men and women alike.  Yet he ended life a disappointed man, the taste of success bitter in his mouth.  What went wrong?  The first full-length study to set him in the context of his age, Harding supplies the answer with a cast that includes Beerbohm Tree and Forbes Robertson in all their stately plenitude; Mrs Patrick Campbell, acidulous and overbearing; Tallulah Bankhead, outrageous and all-conquering; the young Noël Coward, belligerent and irrepressible.  At the same time Harding provides vivid sketches of the men who wrote the words Gerald spoke so brilliantly: the cynical Freddie Lonsdale and the Cockney genius Edgar Wallace.  Over it all broods the sombre presence of Sir James Barrie, who gave Gerald his greatest artistic successes as well as becoming a part of the du Maurier family, as adoptive parent of Gerald's five nephews, the "lost boys" who inspired Peter Pan.  
The man
Son of George du Maurier, famous Punch artist and author of the best-selling Trilby, he had a glamorous entrée to life.  After a short stint in business, success on the stage came quickly and easily, even though he never went to a drama school and had no formal training.  As the most naturally gifted actor of his time, Gerald soon evolved his own distinctive style.  It revolutionised the English theatre and is still influential today.  Gerald's marriage to the actress Muriel Beaumont produced three creative and successful daughters: Angela, an actress and writer, Daphne, an author and playwright, and Jeanne, a painter.  Knighted in 1922, Sir Gerald, the acknowledged head of the profession, a public figure idolised by thousands, hated growing old and it took Gracie Fields, his last frustrated affair, to convince him that age had arrived at last.  In 1934, Sir Gerald died of colon cancer.