Book review: Trilby by George du Maurier


Trilby Trilby by George du Maurier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

This book was published serially in Harper’s Monthly in 1894.

This is the story of Trilby O’Ferrall, an half-Irish girl working in Paris as an artist model and laundress. There she meets Svengali, a Jewish hypnotist who teaches her to sing since she is tone-deaf. In Paris, she meets Little Billee and fails in love with him but she cannot stay with him since he belongs to a higher social class. Later on, he will become a famous artist in London. After a love disillusion, Billee returns to Paris and meets both Trilby and Svengali.


Trilby, hypnotized by Svengali. Svengali exaggerated features were typical of anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews at the turn of the century. This engraving was done by Du Maurier himself for the first edition of the novel in 1894.

According to Wiki, this book has inspired Gaston Leroux’s novel .

The novel has been adapted to the stage several times. During one of these plays, an actress wearer a short-brimmed hat with a sharp snap to the back of the brim, thus giving the name of the well-known hat “trilby”.

George du Maurier was the father of the actor Gerald du Maurier and grandfather of the writers Angela and Dame Daphne du Maurier. He was also the father of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and grandfather of 5 boys who inspired J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. He wrote several cartoons in Punch.

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