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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.
A brilliant companion piece to Wide Sargasso Sea, this is Jean Rhys' beautifully written, bitter-sweet autobiography, covering her chequered early years in Dominica, England and Paris. Jean Rhys wrote this autobiography in her old age, now the celebrated author of Wide Sargasso Sea but still haunted by memories of her troubled past: her precarious jobs on chorus lines and relationships with unsuitable men, her enduring sense of isolation and her decision at last to become a writer. From the early days on Dominica to the bleak time in England, living in bedsits on gin and little else, to Paris with her first husband, this is a lasting memorial to a unique artist. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
'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 Her childish dreams have been replaced by harsh reality.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. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Set against the lush backdrop of 1830s Jamaica, Jean Rhys's powerful, haunting story was inspired by the first Mrs. Rochester, in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre . Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. But soon after their marriage, rumors of madness in her family poison his mind against her. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals, unaware that he is pushing her towards madness, and towards a terrible conclusion amongst the leaping flames at Thornfield Hall...