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The stray girl in the wild land TIME ONLINE

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The view widens down the hill and there is still the river. In 1926 Daphne du Maurier arrived here in the carriage with her family, 19 years old, her heart tight, full of a longing that she could not name. She had hardly gotten out when she fell in love with the village of Bodinnick on the Fowey River, with a view of the gray roofs of Fowey on the other side of the river, the fishing boats on their buoys, and the barges with porcelain earth that passed by. "There was a smell of tar and rope and rusty chains in the air," she wrote later, "a smell of flood."

It smells of wild dog roses now, in summer. Her Ferryside house is still here in Bodinnick, right next to the bend where the carriage stopped. That summer of 1926 the du Maurier parents bought it as a holiday home, even at their daughter's insistence.

Daphne's son Christian Browning, the youngest of her three children, lives here today. On the second floor you can see the window behind which she wrote her first novels and from which she watched Frederick Browning, the young major who was to become her husband in 1932, driving the river in his motorboat up and down around her to spot. The young, aspiring authoress,


This article comes from MERIAN issue No. 09/2017
© MERIAN

There is a photo of her from that time in a rowboat off Ferryside. She rowed like a man, pulling hard on the belt, with her sleeves pushed up. She often went for a walk in the woods around Fowey, preferably in the rain or in fog. Awaiting the storm from the southwest, running a hand through a sea of ​​blue bell. She could predict the weather as well as the locals.

Cornwall is angular and wild and gentle, contradictory in nature, and perhaps that's why Daphne du Maurier felt so recognized, the woman who wanted to be a boy as a girl and later loved to move out alone as a mother. A stray girl.

Cornwall understood it like a promise. "A country, known and loved in all its moods, is linked to the fabric of life, is something you become one with," she stated – and no one wrote about the legends of this country like they did. For the book she wrote about this country, she worked with her son Christian. It appeared in 1967 under the title "Vanishing Cornwall". The best way to read it in winter, with a grog in hand and a log fire nearby, is to have du Maurier tell the stories of the tin casters and smugglers, the myths about Arthur and Camelot, the memory of their own childhood.

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