Daphne Du Maurier was born in England in 1907, the daughter of a wealthy father who was one of the country's most famous actor-managers. Indulged as a girl, she had her first novel published when she was in her early twenties, and married a soldier-nobleman, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Browning. For most of her life she and her husband lived on the coast of Cornwall in a picturesque mansion called Menabilly--a place that would be the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca.

In an era of modernist experimentation in literature, Du Maurier achieved literary fame as the author of traditional historical romances and gothic thrillers, for which she drew on her extensive research into her own family history, as well as the legends of Cornwall's past. Rebecca, published in 1938, remains her most famous work, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock and adored by generations of readers. With its story of a nameless, shy young woman's quest to overcome the ghost of her husband's dead wife and achieve happiness, Rebecca possesses a remarkable degree of psychological sophistication, while still delivering Du Maurier's trademark brand of suspense.

In recognition of her literary accomplishments, Daphne Du Maurier was named a Dame of the British Empire in 1969 (the female equivalent of being knighted). She died in 1989.