Daphne du Maurier: Gendering the Gothic

image of Ashleigh Taylor SullivanDEPT/SUBJECT AREA - English Literature

SUPERVISOR(S) - Dr Marie-Luise Kohlke and Dr Alice Barnaby

RESEARCH DEGREE (PhD/M.Phil/MA by Research) - PhD

THESIS TITLE - Daphne du Maurier: Gendering the Gothic


My research examines the ways in which Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) uses the Gothic as a device to explore her own gender identity through her fiction. While this is not a new concept, my focus differs from the established criticism on the author by considering her oeuvre as a whole. Many critics have ignored large sections of du Maurier’s work, focusing primarily on her more popular novels. In contrast, I make much greater use of the biographical and archival material available, to explore du Maurier’s identification with both genders, her potential bisexuality, and the resulting internal conflict reflected in her writing. In this way my thesis cryptomically decodes the autobiographical traces ‘closeted’ within her writing to argue that she used her fiction as an oblique form of life-writing. My research therefore combines various intersecting theoretical frameworks, namely the Gothic, gender theory, queer studies, and life writing and auto/biographical practice.


April 2018 ‘“Not the right sort of knowledge”: ‘Bluebeard’, Rebecca and the Dynamics of Power’ presented at GENCAS Postgraduate Conference: 'Separate Spheres & Closed Doors: Recasting Gender and Space’.

May 2019 ‘“Jane, always Jane. I should never be rid of Jane”: Neo-Victorian Gothic Orientations in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938) and Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger (2009)’ presented at Universidad de Málaga: ‘(Neo-) Victorian Orientations in the Twenty-First Century’.

June 2019 ‘Unnatural Effects: Representations of Gender in Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Apple Tree’ (1952)’ presented at Le Mans Université: ‘Daphne du Maurier: A Critical Reassessment, An Interdisciplinary Conference’.

October 2019 ‘Daphne du Maurier: Gendering the Gothic, an Introduction to my Research’ presented at Cardiff University: ‘Assuming Gender, Archiving Gender Symposium’.


The James Pantyfedwen Foundation


February 2019 Visiting Student Research Collaborator with the Department of English, Princeton University, New Jersey, US overseen by Professor Maria DiBattista.