Sunday, 19 October 2008

Genetic Memory - George du Maurier and John Llewelyn Davies


At 20 October 2008 at 08:20 , Blogger Atticus said...

I do find your Ll.D. posts interesting, Henri. Your mention of George Du Maurier has reminded me that I have recently tried to help someone with a few suggestions as to how she might discover the origin of, and the identity of an inscriber within, a bound copy of Punch articles written by George Du Maurier. Perhaps you might be able to help, too?

The lady in question sent me a scan of the inscription in the book, and, copying it precisely (including the incorrect spelling of Llewelyn), it reads as follows:

"August 15th 1892.
Sylvia 2nd Dau of George Du Maurier of Hampstead married Arthur Llewellyn Davies, Barrister
son of Rev J. Ll. D."

The date is, of course, the date of the marriage of Sylvia to Arthur.

The first thing I said to the lady was that the misspelling of Llewelyn probably meant that the inscriber was not of the Ll D family, but perhaps was a Du Maurier, maybe George, even. Otherwise perhaps we was one of the family or close friends of Sylvia, and, of those, I suggested she might try and look at the handwriting of Henry James, Henry Crompton (one of Arthur's cousins, I think) and T R Lamont. I suggested these three because, together with George Du M, they were the witnesses to the marriage. One things seems clear: the book was very probably a wedding present.

A further clue is that the book has, pasted inside, an article entitled 'Du Maurier and London Society' from The Christian League of Connecticut, Author Henry James!

Any ideas about this, please?

At 20 October 2008 at 09:50 , Blogger Henri Llewelyn Davies said...

Hi Atticus,

That's interesting, but I'm afraid your guess is as good as mine as to the identity of the writer. Maybe worth looking at George du M.'s/Henry James's handwriting, but I suspect it might be someone unknown.

At 21 October 2008 at 16:25 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Henri

I love George and Trilby, it has a charm its own ( if not politically correct)

Also, I have had similar sensations in places, inexplicably joyous or distressed where ancestors had come from ( though sometimes I put this down to over imaginative on my part), though with Paris, joy for no other reason than Paris itself. I used to have near panic attacks when going to London years ago, though last time I didn't, though I wonder if that is because by then I found out I had a convict ancestor from there....

At 24 October 2008 at 12:36 , Blogger Henri Llewelyn Davies said...

Hi Gondal-girl, Thanks for your comment re Trilby - it does have a kind of charm of its own, I know what you mean, a good way of putting it.

I bet your reactions to certain places (inc London) isn't just your imagination/particular mood - more evidence of genetic memory I reckon!

At 1 November 2008 at 04:07 , Blogger oxford-reader said...

Your posts on family history are so interesting, Henri, and how generous of you to share it all.

It's funny the effect places have on us, isn't it? I don't think I've ever hated a place I've been to, but I know I feel more comfortable in some places than others. I think Wales is a difficult place to love. I'm quarter Irish and quarter Welsh, and I know that I feel more settled in Ireland than Wales. I get unsettled in Cambridge too.

London, Oxford and Cornwall all feel like home, however, and I feel at peace whenever I return to one of them.

At 1 November 2008 at 10:38 , Blogger Henri Llewelyn Davies said...

Many thanks, Oxford reader.

Ireland, yes - a wonderful place in my opinion. Irish - and Jewish - blood: I've always wished I had both,.but I fear I haven't a drop...

You mention Cambridge - in brief visits there I've always felt a bit uneasy and claustrophobic, though I know parts of it are really beautiful. Who knows if that can be put down to genetic memory again? Some of the family of seven siblings that included my great-grandfather Arthur were outstandingly academic students at Cambridge. Apparently one of the most brilliant was Arthur's youngest sibling, Theodor, who, tragically, drowned aged 35 (I don't think anyone suspected it was suicide in his case - with reference to the tragedy of my Great Uncle Michael Ll. D. who drowned when an undergraduate at Oxford.)


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