1894 Trilby: George du Maurier

1894 Trilby: George du Maurier

George du Maurier (1834-1896) was a Punch cartoonist and an occasional author. He was also the father of the actor Gerald du Maurier, grandfather of the author Daphne du Maurier and grandfather of the five Llewellyn brothers who inspired Peter Pan.

He was famous during his lifetime for his cartoons in Punch which gently mocked British society. His most famous cartoon was The Curate’s Egg, which introduced that phrase into the English language. He is best known today as the author of Trilby, a story which was initially serialised in Harpers Magazine in 1894, before appearing in book form in 1895.

It tells the story of an Irish girl, Trilby O’Ferrall, who worked as an artists model in the bohemian art world of Paris in the 1860s, and particularly gained its fame for the hypnotic relationship between the tone-deaf Trilby and her manipulative singing coach, Svengali. It has given us the words “Triby”, for the hat that Trilby wore, and “Svengali”, for a malevolent, dominant man. It also is the first instance of the phrase “in the altogether” meaning naked.

Generally speaking, the first appearance of a novel in parts or in a magazine the most collectaible form of that work. However, in this instance, most collectors would prefer the 1895 book edition to the magazine parts. My copy of the first English edition of 1895 is shown below.

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