|Jean Rhys was born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams in the West Indies. She consistently gave her birth date as 1894, but was actually born in 1890. Her father was a Welsh doctor and her mother the daughter of a Creole plantation owner. At 16 Rhys went to England to attend drama school, and toured England as a chorus girl during World War I. Eventually, she lived in Paris, married three times, and had one daughter. Rhys began to write when Ford Madox Ford, with whom she was having an affair, encouraged her to write stories based on the entries in her diaries. Following her first volume of short stories (published in 1927), she wrote a roman ? clef, QUARTET, about her affair with Ford. Her perennial subject was the cruelties that an unjust world in general--and men in particular--inflict upon women. Rhys was an alcoholic and once spent five days in prison after a fight with a neighbor. She abruptly stopped writing in 1939; after a long silence during which she lived in obscurity, WIDE SARGASSO SEA appeared in 1966. When fame finally came, she was 76. In spite of her turbulent life, she lived to be almost 90, dying in 1979.