Novelist Daphne du Maurier’s works have been read by millions, adapted into films, and kept in print for decades—yet she has been unable to shake her reputation as a pop-lit hack. Cynthia Crossen looks at her career in the Wall Street Journal and argues that the author of Rebecca and The Birds deserves serious literary recognition, or at least a more flattering legacy.
Du Maurier’s work faces the same bestseller bias aimed at writers like Stephen King, who called Rebecca "a book any aspiring popular writer should read." But the pain of critics' blows stuck with du Maurier. "You don't know how hurtful it is to have rotten, sneering reviews, time and time again throughout my life," she wrote a friend. "The fact that I sold well never really made up for them."