From Maidstone Prison to the Wide Sargasso Sea! Find!
An article in this week's Kent Messenger* has alerted us to evidence that a former Maidstone pub may have been the birthplace of Jean Rhys' award winning book The Wide Sargasso Sea!
Jean Rhys took many years to write The Wide Sargasso Sea, which was finally published in 1966.
During the early 1950's, Jean Rhys, whose life was often peppered by turbulence, went into hiding. Apparently she spent 2 years secretly living in rooms above the Ropemakers Arms, in Bower Lane, Maidstone. She had come to Maidstone in order to be able to visit her husband, Max Hamer, who had been convicted for fraud and was serving his sentence in Maidstone Prison.
Clearly this was a particularly low point in Rhys' life, but out of it came a manuscript, written in a small brown exercise book, From a Diary: At the Ropemaker's Arms, subtitled Death Before the Fact.
(To check this document, we would need to visit the McFarlin Library Archives at the University of Tula, USA, but, according to Elaine Savory in The Cambridge University Introduction to Jean Rhys, C.U.P., it is a remarkable document.)
*The Kent Messenger cites an article by Geoff French in Bygone Kent as the source for this information.
For information on Jean Rhys, see http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/rhys.htm
11 October 2009 from Julia
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