George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier was born on 6th March 1834 in Paris.
Du Maurier was brought up believing his aristocratic grandparents fled France during the Revolution, leaving vast estates behind in France. However, his grandfather was only a tradesman who left Paris in 1789 to avoid charges of fraud and changed the family name to du Maurier.
He studied art in Paris before moving to Antwerp, Belgium where he lost the sight of his left eye. On consulting an oculist in Düsseldorf, Germany, he met his future wife, Emma Wightwick.
On 3rd January 1863, he married Emma at St Marylebone, Westminster. Over the next few years they had five children and several house moves.
He joined the satirical magazine Punch in 1865 and drew two cartoons a week. Du Maurier commonly made fun of the affected manners of Victorian society, the bourgeoisie and members of the expanding middle class.
As well as his black-and-white cartoons for Punch, he freelanced for several other periodicals: Harper's, The Graphic, The Illustrated Times, The Cornhill Magazine, and the religious periodical Good Words. His reputation was such that he was also asked to illustrate several novels.
Owing to his deteriorating eyesight, du Maurier reduced his involvement with Punch in 1891. The family moved to Hampstead, and du Maurier began work on his life as a novelist. His first, 'Peter Ibbetson' (1891), was a modest success on publication and later adapted to a film, and an opera.
His second novel 'Trilby' appeared in 1894. Its publication coincided perfectly with the gothic horror revival and the book was hugely popular becoming the best-selling book of 1895. The story of the poor artist's model Trilby O'Ferrall, transformed into a diva under the spell of the evil musical genius Svengali, created a sensation. It spawned soap, songs, dances, toothpaste, and even the city of Trilby in Florida, to be named after its heroine. The soft felt hat with an indented crown that was worn in the London stage production is still known as a trilby.
His third novel, a long, mainly autobiographical piece, 'The Martian', was published after his death in 1898.
George du Maurier died on 8th October 1898 at age 62 in Hampstead, London.