« AnteriorContinuar »
DU MAURIER, GEORGE LOUIS PALMELLA BUSSON, novelist and artist, a descendant of a French family that fled to England at the breaking out of the Revolution. He was born in Paris, March 6, 1834; died in London, October 8, 1896. He attended school in Paris until he was seventeen years of age. Then his father, who was in London, and who was very desirous that his son should become a scientific man, sent for him and placed him at the Birkbeck Chemical Laboratory of University College. But he gave very little time to the study of chemistry and a good deal to sketching and drawing caricatures. His father dying in 1856 he returned to Paris, and, as he had decided to make art a profession, he entered Gleyre's studio, in the Quartier Latin, to study drawing and painting. He spent one year in the Quartier Latin. He then went to Antwerp and worked in the Antwerp Academy under De Keyser and Van Lerins. It was while working in the studio of Van Lerins that occurred what he called the great tragedy of his life, the sudden and permanent loss of the sight of his left eye. In 1860 he went to London and soon after began contributing sketches to Once a Week and to Punch. His first sketch appeared in Punch, June, 1860. From that time he became famous as an illustrator of that paper by his
well-known caricatures of society life. His first book, Peter Ibbetson, was published in 1892; Trilby in 1894. His last book, The Martians, was appearing as a serial in Harper's at the time of his death. All were illustrated by himself. In 1880 a collection of his Punch wood-cuts was published in a volume entitled English Society at Home.
John D. Barry, in a letter to the Boston Literary World, says that while walking on the Heath several years ago, Du Maurier made the remark that started him on his career as a writer.
“ If I were a novelist, I should never be in want of plots; for I have hundreds of them in my mind already." Then, according to Mr. Barry, he outlined the story of Trilby, with a very different heroine however from the “ Trilby” the world knows so well. “I began Peter Ibbetson on an impulse one night,” said he to Mr. Barry, “after Mr. James had left us. I grew interested in it, and worked on rapidly till I suddenly came to a full stop. 'Oh, this is a mad story,' I said to myself; and I seized the manuscript and held it up to throw it in the fire. Then, with my arm in the air, I decided to wait till morning before burning it. That night in bed it flashed upon me to make the hero mad; and so I did, and went on to the end."
“ Personally,” says the same authority, Maurier was exactly what a reader of his books would expect him to be--gentle, sympathetic, philosophical, with the air of one interested in the best that life offered, but a little saddened."
He was an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colors.
Little Billee would look up from his work, as she was sitting to Taffy or the Laird, and find her gray eyes fixed on him with an all-enfolding gaze, so piercingly, penetratingly, unutterably sweet and kind and tender, such a brooding, dove-like look of soft and warm solicitude, that he would feel a flutter at his heart, and his hand would shake so that he could not paint; and in a waking dream he would remember that his mother had often looked at him like that when he was a small boy, and she a beautiful young woman untouched by care or sorrow; and the tear that always lay in readiness so close to the corner of Little Billee's eye would find it very difficult to keep itself in its proper place-unshed.–Trilby.
And this leads me to apologize for the egotism of this Memoir, which is but an introduction to another and longer one that I hope to publish later. To write a story of paramount importance to mankind, it is true, but all about one's outer and one's inner self, to do this without seeming somewhat egotistical, requires something akin to genius—and I am but a poor scribe.
“Combien j'ai donce souvenance
Du joli lieu de ma naissance !”
These quaint lines have been running in my head at intervals through nearly all my outer life, like an oftrecurring burden in an endless ballad-sadly monotonous, alas ! the ballad, which is mine ; sweetly monotonous the burden, which is by Chauteaubriand.
I sometimes think that, to feel the full significance of this refrain, one must have passed one's childhood in sunny France, where it was written, and the remainder of one's existence in mere London-or worse than mere London-as has been the case with me. If I had spent all my life from infancy upward in Bloomsbury, or Clerkenwell, or Whitechapel, my early days would be