Image of George du Maurier


Lifetime: 1834 - 1896 Passed: ≈ 127 years ago


Cartoonist, Writer



George du Maurier

George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier was a Franco-British cartoonist and writer known for work in Punch and a Gothic novel Trilby, featuring the character Svengali. His son was the actor Sir Gerald du Maurier. The writers Angela du Maurier and Dame Daphne du Maurier and the artist Jeanne du Maurier were all granddaughters of George. He was also father of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and grandfather of the five boys who inspired J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

George du Maurier was born in Paris, France, son of Louis-Mathurin Busson du Maurier and wife Ellen Clarke, daughter of the Regency courtesan Mary Anne Clarke. He was brought up to believe his aristocratic grandparents had fled from France during the Revolution, leaving vast estates behind, to live in England as émigrés. In fact, du Maurier's grandfather, Robert-Mathurin Busson, was a tradesman who left Paris, France, in 1789 to avoid charges of fraud and later changed the family name to the grander-sounding du Maurier.

Du Maurier studied art in Paris, France, in the studio of Charles Gleyre, and moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where he lost the vision in his left eye. He consulted an oculist in Düsseldorf, Rhineland, Prussia, German Confederation. He was reportedly studying chemistry at University College, London, in 1851. He is recorded in the 1861 England Census as a lodger at 85 Newman St in Marylebone.

He met Emma Wightwick in 1853 and married her a decade later, on 3 January 1863, at St Marylebone, Westminster. Moving frequently over the course of their marriage, the couple first settled in Hampstead in 1869, initially at Gang Moor near the Whitestone Pond for three years, before moving to 27 Church Row and later at New Grove House in 1881. In 1891, the family is recorded as residing at 2 Porchester Rd in Paddington. They had five children: Beatrix (known as Trixy), Guy, Sylvia, Marie Louise (known as May) and Gerald.

Du Maurier died on 8 October 1898 and was buried in St John-at-Hampstead churchyard in Hampstead. The success of his writings and illustrations allowed du Maurier to leave a then staggering amount of £47,555 in his will.

Du Maurier was a close friend of Henry James, the novelist; their relationship was fictionalised in David Lodge's Author, Author (2004).

Books by George du Maurier

Trilby Cover image


Fiction Novel
Gothic Travelling Influential Painting Horror

Trilby is a novel by George du Maurier and one of the most popular novels of its time. Published serially in Harper's Monthly from January to August 1894, it was published in book form on 8 September 1895 and sold 200,000 copies in the United States...