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Hampstead and Highgate ‘literati’ defended against snobbery charge from Daphne du Maurier’s son

Daphne du Maurier Daphne du Maurier

Heathman
Thursday, April 17, 2014
5:00 PM

A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature has rejected claims from the son of Daphne du Maurier that the “literati” of Hampstead and Highgate are guilty of snobbishness towards popular authors.

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Daphne Du Maurier plaque at Cannon Cottage in Well Road, HampsteadDaphne Du Maurier plaque at Cannon Cottage in Well Road, Hampstead

Kits Browning, the only son of the Rebecca writer, has accused the literary circles of these parts of unfairly dismissing writers who achieve mass popularity, both today and in his mother’s time.

Speaking before a three-part BBC One adaptation of du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn begins on Monday, he told the Radio Times: “The Hampstead/Highgate literati of critics totally dismissed mum just as they do with best-selling authors today.”

However, former BBC radio producer Piers Plowright, fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and one of the organisers of the Hampstead Arts Festival – who was born a few streets away from du Maurier’s former Hampstead home in Well Road – has denied the charge.

He told Heathman: “I enormously admire Daphne du Maurier. What I think he’s getting at is this feeling that there’s a group scoffing at novelists who are popular and tell great stories, but I think it’s a rather sweeping criticism.

“Hampstead has become a catch-all phrase for a certain type of snootiness, but there isn’t any more literary snobbery in Hampstead than anywhere else.

“It’s something that runs through literary people everywhere – but we have got better over the years.”

He added: “I live in Hampstead and I like books, but I would not want to think of myself as part of any literati.”

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