Preview: The Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature, Fowey, Cornwall

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The Independent Culture

Daphne du Maurier's son Christian Browning still lives in the family home, near Fowey, Cornwall, that was owned by his grandmother. This is where she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit, in 1931.

"My first recollection of my mother being a novelist was in the mid-Forties when she was writing The King's General," says Browning. "We were living at Menabilly, the house in Cornwall that my mother rented for years. She had a basic hut built at the end of the garden for privacy. It had a paraffin stove, Fox's Glacier Mints, cigarettes and a typewriter. She worked quite late into the evenings. I could see her torch flickering as she walked back along the long lawn of the garden, back to the house at night."

Du Maurier's novels were inspired by her love of Cornwall, where she lived and wrote many of them. "It was the escapism from London that she loved, the new-found freedom to walk and sail and be on her own that she loved," he says.

This year's Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature, held for the last 12 years, includes guided walks to Polridmouth Cove, the setting for the shipwreck scene in Rebecca, and a minibus tour to Jamaica Inn, the pub on the edge of Bodmin Moor that was the setting for the novel. Justine Picardie, the author of Daphne, discusses the legacies of the novelist and her family with du Maurier's grandson, Rupert Tower, and there are group sessions to read Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel.

Other highlights include former Soft Cell lead singer Marc Almond performing; Viv Hendra using images of paintings by the Cornish artist John Opie to tell the story of the Cornish peasant who became professor of painting at the Royal Academy; Pam Ayres creating a show using material from her latest book, Surgically Enhanced; and Stella Duffy reading from her new book The Room of Lost Things. There is also stand-up from Russell Howard.

8 to 17 May (0845 094 0428; www.dumaurierfestival.co.uk

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