Myself When Young : The Shaping of a Writer, Paperback Book

Myself When Young : The Shaping of a Writer Paperback

Part of the Virago Modern Classics series

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Both her novels and her non-fiction reveal Daphne du Maurier's overwhelming desire to explore her family's history. In Myself When Young, based on diaries that she kept from 1920-1932, the most famous du Maurier probes her own past, beginning with her earliest memories and encompassing the publication of her first book and her subsequent marriage.

Here, the writer is open and sometimes painfully honest about the difficult relationship with her father; her education in Paris; early love affairs; her antipathy towards London life and the theatre; her intense love for Cornwall and her desperate ambition to succeed as a writer. The resulting portrait is of a captivating and complex character.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9781844080960

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I loved this volume of Daphne Du Maurier's. She wrote it at about age 70 from diaries she had written as a young girl and on into her early 20s. She tells of her family, their homes, the countryside in Cornwall where she spent a great deal of her life, her years in school and her close relationship with a teacher that continued all throughout their lives.I think I especially loved how she spoke of her love of the land, sea, the plant life and her surroundings. She was a very adaptable creature and learned to be happy wherever she was and whatever her circumstances, which were not always ideal. When her father passed away he left them without much and from that point on Daphne, her sister, mother and a friend were very dependent upon her brothers for their housing and livelihood.She speaks of trying to write and how difficult it was for her most of her early years and the fact that she gave up on all of her writings at one point or another.I am glad that I read this book before beginning her others which I am going to try to read in order. It has given me an insight into this author that I never had before.

Review by

I feel as though I can never go wrong with Daphne Du Maurier’s books. Fiction, nonfiction, I haven’t run into a bad one yet. Myself When Young is a memoir based on the diaries that Du Maurier kept from 1920-1932, or from ages 13 to 25, when her first novel The Loving Spirit, was published. It’s a short book, but covers a lot of ground, from her early years living in the shadow of her father Gerald Du Maurier, her schooling in Paris, and her early years as a writer. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how Daphne talked about the inspiration for some of her writing—specifically Rebecca, The Loving Spirit, and some of her earliest short stories. I also liked seeing how certain places (Menabily especially, which was in the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca and became the setting of The King’s General) helped inspire and inform Daphne’s novels. I also enjoyed seeing how her family’s history played a role in some of her books. I also didn’t know how much of a role Peter Pan played in Daphne’s earlier years; I knew about her relationship with the Llewellyn-Davies boys, but I didn’t know how pervasive the book was as Daphne grew up. This book was written in the seventies, when Daphne was in her sixties, so there’s a very nostalgic quality to this memoir. All authors write about what they know, and Daphne was no exception. But she wrote about what she knew very well, even eloquently. There are some beautiful passages in this book about growing up. Daphne draws heavily from her diaries, sometimes even quoting from them. But through those diary excerpts, you can see the germination of a truly great writer.

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