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George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier was born in Paris on March 6th, 1834. After studying Art in Paris he moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where he lost vision in his left eye. While in Düsseldorf, Germany, to consult an occulist he met his future wife, Emma Wightwick. He followed her family to London, and the two were married in 1863.
Du Maurier worked on the satirical magazine Punch in 1865, drawing two cartoons a week, but due to his deteriorating eyesight, he was forced to retire in 1891. He settled in Hampstead and began to write, and became a close friend of writer and critic Henry James. Du Maurier wrote three novels, the last of which was published posthumously.
His second novel, Trilby (1894), created a unique sensation. Songs and dances, soap and toothpaste and even a town in Florida were named after its heroine, Trilby. The still common trilby hat was also named after her, as the hat was designed for use on the stage adaptation of the novel. The plot later inspired Gaston Leroux's 1910 work Phantom of the Opera. Initially bemused by Trilby's success, du Maurier eventually came to despise the attention given to his novel.
George du Maurier was the father of actor Gerald du Maurier and grandfather of writer Daphne du Maurier. He was also the father of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and thus grandfather of the five boys who inspired Peter Pan.
He passed away on October 8th, 1896, and was interred in Saint John's Churchyard in Hampstead parish in London.