Jean Rhys (1890-1979) was born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams in Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. In 1906 she immigrated to England and became a writer. Her first book, The Left Bank, was published in 1927. This collection of short stories was succeeded by three novels published throughout the 1930s. Then, for over twenty years, Rhys was silent. Many believed her dead. But in 1966, at seventy six year old, Rhys published her most famous work, Wide Sargasso Sea. This revision of the story of Charlotte Bronte’s Bertha Rochester, the madwoman in the attic from Jane Eyre, finally earned Rhys widespread acclaim.
Though Rhys almost died unrecognized, a growing number of scholars have studied her since the 1970s. Today she enjoys a permanent place in the canon of English-language literature. She is a Modernist and a Post-Modernist writer, both in style and period, and she is revered by feminist critics. Rhys is also acclaimed for her post-colonial and multi-national style, as her writing reflects both Caribbean and West European influences.