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Jul 5, 2022

Daphne du Maurier: Novelist Who Traced Her Ancestry to a French Debtors’ Jail

Dame Daphne du Maurier, the English novelist who died in 1989, was fascinated by her French heritage.

The author of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn had been brought up on tales of an aristocratic ancestor who came to London during the French Revolution, fleeing the guillotine and the militant sans-culottes.

But when she began looking into her family history, she discovered it was all rather more complicated. Far from being nobles, her French ancestors were in fact bourgeois artisans whose trade was glassmaking.

And the 1790 émigré was not a runaway from the revolutionary mob, but from a debtors’ prison.

You can read about her adventures in researching her ancestry, including disproving some of the “family stories: that had been handed down in her family over the centuries, by starting in the BBC web site at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61985416.

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