Jean Rhys was an English author born on August 20, 1890 in Dominica, British West Indies. At age 16, she moved to England to attend the Perse School for Girls, but was intensely mocked for her foreign accent. She also enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to practice acting, yet her dialect prevented her from pursuing a career in theatre as well. Her lack of success career-wise during this time in her life led to a dependence on alcohol and a long string of lovers to fulfill her desires. However, Rhys soon discovered an outlet for expressing her sorrow and emotions: writing.
In 1934, Rhys published her novel entitled Voyage in the Dark, which tells the story of Anna Morgan, a young woman who has just moved from her home in the Caribbean to England. She receives no financial backing from her family, so she supports herself through her lover, Walter. However, when he abandons Anna for another woman, she must find others ways to support herself and survive independently in land so foreign to her.
Upon its publication, Voyage in the Dark garnered mixed to positive reviews for its provocative portrayal of a woman who feels out-of-place in her given situation. Rhys’ writing in this piece is often likened to that of Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness. The protagonist Anna Morgan attempts to reconcile her two heritages and thrive in a culture that praises conformity. The struggles that Anna must endure are ones that readers of all ages and backgrounds can relate to.