Jean Rhys was born Ella Gwendoline Rees Williams in the British colony of Dominica in the West Indies on 24 August 1890, the fourth surviving child of her parents. Her father, William Rees Williams, had arrived on the island in 1881 to practise medicine; her mother, Minna Lockhart, was the grand-daughter of James Potter Lockhart, who had bought the Geneva estate on Dominica in 1824 and who had been an important figure in the small white colonial élite on the island. After the emancipation of the slaves (1834) the Geneva estate entered a genteel decline, evocatively recreated in Jean Rhys’s best-known novel,

Wide Sargasso Sea

, which was only completed and published when she was 76. Although Rhys left Dominica in 1907 to attend school in England, returning only once, briefly, in 1936,…

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Citation: Hulme, Peter. "Jean Rhys". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 January 2001 [, accessed 13 April 2024.]

3758 Jean Rhys 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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