George Du Maurier

Easton Press George Du Maurier books

Peter Ibbetson - Library of Famous Editions - 1963


George Du Maurier biography

George du Maurier, a Victorian-era author and illustrator, was born on March 6, 1834, in Paris, France. He was the son of Louis-Mathurin du Maurier, a Frenchman, and Ellen Clarke, an Englishwoman. Growing up in a cosmopolitan environment, George became fluent in both French and English, a linguistic duality that would influence his later literary and artistic endeavors. After receiving his education in France, George du Maurier moved to London, where he initially pursued a career in banking. However, his passion for the arts led him to abandon finance in favor of illustration and cartooning. In 1865, he joined the staff of the British satirical magazine "Punch," where he would spend much of his career.

Du Maurier's illustrations and cartoons for Punch gained him widespread recognition. His work was characterized by a distinctive style and often featured social satire and humor. One of his most famous creations was the character Svengali, introduced in a series of cartoons in the magazine. In addition to his success as an illustrator, George du Maurier ventured into the world of fiction. He wrote novels, short stories, and essays, displaying a talent for storytelling. His best-known work is the novel Trilby (1894), a tale set in the bohemian artistic circles of Paris. The novel introduced the character Svengali, a sinister mesmerist, and it explored themes of art, love, and the power of suggestion. Trilby became immensely popular and had a significant cultural impact, inspiring stage adaptations and influencing subsequent literature. The character Trilby's name even entered the English language as a term for a type of hat.

George du Maurier continued to contribute to Punch until his retirement in 1891. He then focused more on his literary pursuits, publishing novels such as Peter Ibbetson (1891) and The Martian (1897). George du Maurier's legacy extends beyond his literary and artistic achievements. He was the grandfather of the famous authors Daphne du Maurier and Angela du Maurier, adding a literary dimension to the family's notable contributions to the arts. George du Maurier passed away on October 8, 1896, leaving behind a body of work that reflects the cultural and artistic trends of the Victorian era. His impact as an illustrator and novelist continues to be recognized, with "Trilby" remaining an enduring part of literary and cultural history.


Peter Ibbetson

First published in 1891, Peter Ibbetson was the first of three novels with Trilby and The Martian that du Maurier wrote and illustrated in the last five years of his life. Peter 'Gogo' Pasquier, an inmate at an English lunatic asylum, records the unfortunate chain of events that led from his idyllic Parisian childhood to the brutal murder of his adoptive Uncle Ibbetson. But the reason for this memoir is not to seek forgiveness for his crime: it is to tell of his love for the Duchess of Towers and their shared ability to 'dream true' - to dream so lucidly that they can travel back through time and space to any moment of their (or their ancestors') lives...

Of the non-natural part of his story I will not say much. It is, of course, a fact that he had been absolutely and, to all appearance, incurably insane before he wrote his life. There seems to have been a difference of opinion, or rather a doubt, among the authorities of the asylum as to whether he was mad after the acute but very violent period of his brief attack had ended. Whichever may have been the case, I am at least convinced of this: that he was no romancer, and thoroughly believed in the extraordinary mental experience he has revealed. At the risk of being thought to share his madness if he was mad I will conclude by saying that I, for one, believe him to have been sane, and to have told the truth all through.


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