Jean Rhys: Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography

(1226 words)

As Diana Athill, Rhys’s editor and friend, explains in her foreword to this work, Rhys was not particularly attracted to the autobiographical form but felt impelled to correct certain misapprehensions which had angered and hurt her. The process proved long and arduous: many of her memories had already been transmuted in writing her fiction; she was fastidious about not making things up; she was increasingly inclined towards reworking and rewriting; and fundamentally she continued to believe that it was the work that mattered, not the person.

There were also physical difficulties in writing as she moved into her mid-80s. Several people helped, none more attentively, in his own account, than the writer David Plante, who spent m…

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Hulme, Peter. "Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 19 January 2001
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]