Jean Rhys, author of Wide Sargasso Sea.

Biography of Jean Rhys

Life Synopsis
Rhys, Jean: (1890-1979) The pen name of Dominica’s most famous author who was born in Roseau on 24 August 1890 and was christened Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams. Her father was a Welsh doctor working here and her mother was one of the Lockhart family, longstanding Dominican Creoles, who owned Geneva Estate at Grand Bay. She was educated at the Convent School and left for England when she was sixteen years old.
Jean Rhys
She went into the theatre for a short time but began writing in earnest in 1922, publishing her first book in 1927. By then she had married a Dutch poet, the first of her three husbands, and lived a rootless wandering life in Europe mainly in London, Paris and Vienna. Her early novels and short stories reflect this lifestyle. She only returned to Dominica once, in 1936. Her literary triumph was the novel “Wide Sargasso Sea” published in 1966, which won literary awards, and which, like parts of her other books, drew on her memories of Dominica. She died in Devon, England, on May 14, 1979.

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Jean Rhys Festival

A literary festival is to be held in Dominica dedicated to the life and works of Jean Rhys, Dominica's foremost author, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death, May 14, 1979.

  • Hosted by: The Dominica University Centre, School of Continuing Studies of the University of the West Indies

  • Date & Place: June 10th to 13th 2004 at the Garrawy Hotel, Roseau.

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