A small column from The Evening Standard last week about Jean Rhys led me to look her up today on-line. Having only seen an interview with the author as an older woman, reflective and reclusive, I am intrigued to find the most enchanting portrait of a young woman, her eyes of the palest blue, open and unguarded. I don’t why this should come as such a surprise to me and yet the transition from boy to man often seems less dramatic, the five-year old child being very much in evidence in the ninety-year old veteren.
Said Rhys of writing, “If I could choose I would rather be happy than write … If I could live my life all over again, and choose … “.
Together with Elizabeth Bowen, English Heritage have honoured the work of Jean Rhys with the unveiling of a blue plaque at her London flat (Paultons House, Paultons Square, Chelsea) this month.
While Rhys’s writing no doubt provides an insight into the woman, I have ordered her unfinished autobiography: Smile Please. The power of photography for me is that I know it is just a snapshot: I need to know the whole story.