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Jean Rhys - Author

About the Author

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is best known for her novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, which was published in 1966 when she was 76. Rhys's life was profoundly marked by a sense of exile, loss, and alienation-dominant themes in her novels and short stories. Despite critical acclaim at the end of her life, Rhys died in 1979 still doubting the merit of her work.

Rhys was born Ella Gwendolen Rhys Williams on August 24, 1890 in Roseau, on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Her father, Rhys Williams, was a Welshman who had been trained in London as a doctor and emigrated to the colonies. Her mother, Minna Lockhart, was a third-generation Dominican Creole.

 

Featured books by Jean Rhys

Other books by Jean Rhys

Quartet

Quartet

Author: Jean Rhys, Claire Messud Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/10/2020

Quartet, Jean Rhys's first novel, launched her literary career in the late 1920s, and today remains an incisive, sinister tale of love and obsession. After her husband, Stephan, is arrested, Marya finds herself destitute in Paris. With nowhere else to turn, she accepts the hospitality of an English couple living on the fringes of the artistic world. Yet as Marya is drawn inexorably into their universe, she becomes entangled in a bizarre sexual and psychological relationship that frightens even as it fascinates her-and as the date of Stephan's release from prison draws near, Marya's new life splits apart at the seams.

Voyage in the Dark

Voyage in the Dark

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/10/2020

Often considered Jean Rhys's most autobiographical novel, this masterful and moving work follows a chorus girl, Anna, who struggles to adjust to cold and inhospitable England after a childhood in the West Indies. When an affair that at first feels like salvation comes to a disastrous end, Anna begins to unravel.

After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie

After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie

Author: Jean Rhys, Miranda Seymour Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/07/2020

Nowhere is Jean Rhys's talent for fully inhabiting the minds of her characters more apparent than in After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, her masterful second novel. Rhys lays bare the desires and contradictions of her mercurial protagonist, Julia, in this haunting depiction of life after the end of a tumultuous affair.

Till September Petronella

Till September Petronella

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/02/2018

'I knew he was imagining a really lovely girl - all curves, curls, heart and hidden claws' In stories that span the course of a lifetime - from childhood in the Caribbean to adolescent modelling in Paris; and from lonely adulthood to old age and beyond - here are women adrift, at sea, down but not quite out. Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.

The Collected Short Stories

The Collected Short Stories

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/03/2017

New to Penguin Classics, the remarkable, devastating collected stories by the author of Wide Sargasso Sea. Some of Jean Rhys's most powerful writing is to be found in this rich, dark collection of her collected stories. Her fictional world is haunted by her own, painful memories: of cheap hotels and drab Parisian cafes; of devastating love affairs; of her childhood in Dominica; of drifting through European cities, always on the periphery and always perilously close to the abyss. Rendered in extraordinarily vivid, honest prose, these stories show Rhys at the height of her literary powers and offer a fascinating counterpoint to her most famous novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. This volume includes all the stories from her three collections,The Left Bank (1927), Tigers Are Better-Looking (1968) and Sleep It Off, Lady (1976).

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys, Andrea Ashworth Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/10/2016

Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.

Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning, Midnight

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/08/2016

Saved, rescued, fished-up, half-drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set... Set in a 1930s Paris of shabby hotel rooms, seedy bars and drunken encounters, Jean Rhys's semi-autobiographical portrayal of a young woman's sexual encounters is a searingly honest exploration of loneliness and yearning. Ten new titles in the colourful, small-format, portable new Pocket Penguins series

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys, Edwidge Danticat Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/01/2016

Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys's return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction's most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind. A new introduction by the award-winning Edwidge Danticat, author most recently of Claire of the Sea Light, expresses the enduring importance of this work. Drawing on her own Caribbean background, she illuminates the setting's impact on Rhys and her astonishing work.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/03/2011

One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World' Jean Rhys's spell-binding novel Wide Sargasso Sea, inspired by Jane Eyre and winner the Royal Society of Literature Award is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'There is no looking glass here and I don't know what I am like now... Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?' If Antoinette Cosway, a spirited Creole heiress, could have foreseen the terrible future that awaited her, she would not have married the young Englishman. Initially drawn to her beauty and sensuality, he becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to reach into her soul. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals, unaware that in taking away her identity he is destroying a part of himself as well as pushing her towards madness. Set against the lush backdrop of 1830s Jamaica, Jean Rhys's powerful, haunting masterpiece was inspired by her fascination with the first Mrs Rochester, the mad wife in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. 'Compelling, painful and exquisite' Guardian 'Brilliant. A tale of dislocation and dispossession, which Rhys writes with a kind of romantic cynicism, desperate and pungent' The Times 'Rhys turns a menacing cipher into a grieving, plausible young woman, and one whose story says whole worlds about global mixtures, about the misunderstandings between the colonized, the colonizers and the people who can't easily say which they are' Time Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother, and came to England when she was sixteen. Her first book, a collection of stories called The Left Bank, was published in 1927. This was followed by Quartet (originally Postures, 1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934) and Good Morning, Midnight (1939). None of these books was particularly successful and with the outbreak of war they went out of print. Jean Rhys dropped from sight until nearly twenty years later she was discovered living reclusively in Cornwall. During those years she had accumulated the stories collected in Tigers are Better-Looking. In 1966 she made a sensational reappearance with Wide Sargasso Sea, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W. H. Smith Award. Her final collection of stories, Sleep It Off Lady, appeared in 1976 and Smile Please, her unfinished autobiography, was published posthumously in 1979. Jean Rhys died in 1979.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/04/2001

Jean Rhys's late, literary masterpiece Wide Sargasso Sea was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is set in the lush, beguiling landscape of Jamaica in the 1830s. Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. After their marriage the rumours begin, poisoning her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys, Andrea Ashworth Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2000

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World' 'Rhys took one of the works of genius of the 19th Century and turned it inside-out to create one of the works of genius of the 20th Century' Michele Roberts Jean Rhys's masterpiece tells the story of Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester. Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys's brief, beautiful masterpiece. Edited with an introduction and notes by Angela Smith

Quartet

Quartet

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2000

Jean Rhys's first novel, a heartbreaking and disturbingly intimate portrayal of an isolated woman in Paris Set in a superficially romantic, between-wars Paris, Quartet is a poignant tale of a lonely woman. Set against a background of winter-wet streets, Pernod in smoky cafes and cheap hotel rooms with mauve- flowered wallpaper, Marya tries to make something substantial of her life in order to withstand the unreality of her surroundings. Alone, her Polish husband in prison, she is taken up by an English couple who slowly overwhelm her with their passions.

Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning, Midnight

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2000

Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight is an unforgettable portrait of a woman bravely confronting loneliness and despair in her quest for self-determination In 1930s Paris, where one cheap hotel room is very like another, a young woman is teaching herself indifference. She has escaped personal tragedy and has come to France to find courage and seek independence. She tells herself to expect nothing, especially not kindness, least of all from men. Tomorrow, she resolves, she will dye her hair blonde. Jean Rhys was a talent before her time with an impressive ability to express the anguish of young women. In Good Morning, Midnight Rhys created the powerfully modern portrait of Sophia Jansen, whose emancipation is far more painful and complicated than she could expect, but whose confession is flecked with triumph and elation. With an introduction by A.L. Kennedy 'Her eloquence in the language of human sexual transactions is chilling, cynical, and surprisingly moving' A.L. Kennedy

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

Author: Jean Rhys, Lorna Sage Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2000

A brilliant, yet brutal, portrait of a woman struggling to retrieve both life and love, from the author of Wide Sargasso Sea For six months, Julia has lived alone in a drab Parisian hotel on an allowance from her ex-lover, Mr. Mackenzie. When his cheques stop, Julia decides to leave France and return to London. The tale of her ten day visit contains some of Jean Rhys's most sensitive, poignant writing. Past her prime, exhausted by broken love affairs and addled by drink, Julia is tragically unable to find what she really wants - love.

Voyage in the Dark

Voyage in the Dark

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2000

'A wonderful bitter-sweet book, written with disarming simplicity' Esther Freud 'It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known,' says Anna Morgan, eighteen years old and catapulted to England from the West Indies after the death of her beloved father. Working as a chorus girl, Anna drifts into the demi-monde of Edwardian London. But there, dismayed by the unfamiliar cold and greyness, she is absolutely alone and unconsciously floating from innocence to harsh experience. Her childish dreams have been replaced by harsh reality. Voyage in the Dark was first published in 1934, but it could have been written today. It is the story of an unhappy love affair, a portrait of a hypocritical society, and an exploration of exile and breakdown; all written in Jean Rhys's hauntingly simple and beautiful style.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys, Andrea Ashworth Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 29/01/2000

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World' 'Rhys took one of the works of genius of the 19th Century and turned it inside-out to create one of the works of genius of the 20th Century' Michele Roberts Jean Rhys's masterpiece tells the story of Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester. Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys's brief, beautiful masterpiece. Edited with an introduction and notes by Angela Smith

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