1920’s – Jean Rhys and the Hudnut’s

Jean Rhys was a novelist who became famous in her later years. However, it was interesting to note that she had a connection with Richard Hudnut and his second wife Winifred.

In 1890, Jean Rhys was born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams on the island of Dominica to a Welsh father and white Creole mother. From an early age, Jean wrote stories however, it was when destitute and living in Paris she began writing again. It was also during this time she met literary giant Ford Madox Ford who kick-started her writing career. Ford Madox Ford was born Ford Madox Hueffer in Merton, Surrey Novelist, poet, literary critic, editor, one of the founding fathers of English Modernism. It was through him that she changed her name and his advice to use her tortured life experiences and transform them in to literary form. Also, I was through him that she met Richard Hudnut and his second wife Winifred. In Jul 1925, Jean Rhys took a train to Juan-Les-Pins to meet with Mrs. Hudnut who wanted her to ghost-write a book on Reincarnation and Furniture. However, this was not a subject she was an expert on let alone undertake. However, according to limited research on this subject Jean stayed at the Chateau for a couple of months. But it seems that Ford had received a letter from Jean stating that Mrs. Hudnut wanted her to write an additional book as well. This led to Ford writing Mrs. Hudnut angrily saying she was trying to exploit her and underpay Jean for her writing services. Needless to say Mr. and Mrs.  Hudnut were angry about the whole situation and cabled Ford that Jean would be on a train back to Paris the next day. However, it seemed that a story was going around that about Jean and Mr. Hudnut. It seems Mr. Hudnut had been seen kissing Jean when he took her to the Casino at Monte Carlo ‘Nearly every Sunday’. This was also verified by the chauffeur who was watching them in the mirror. It seems that Winifred and Jean ‘reconciled their differences’ and took the train from Juan-Les-Pins to the Garc de Lyons where Ford met them both there. Winifred did not seem to be impressed when she met Ford she walked away with a porter and her luggage. Did Richard Hudnut fool around with Jean Rhys? There is really nothing to prove this story? There are no known news articles except what Jean has written. Given that Richard Hudnut was a wealthy man I imagine he paid afew people off to insure this little dalliance never seen daylight.

Source Used:

Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol II The After-War World. By Max Saunders.

 

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