Phyllis Shand Allfrey

Phyllis Shand Allfrey (1908-1986), author of Love for an Island, It Falls Into Place and The Orchid House, was born in Dominica, into a once wealthy planter family — like her compatriot and sometime friend Jean Rhys — and became a significant politician as well as a literary figure.

As a young woman she lived for a time in the United States, moving in well-connected New York society, and later spent some years in Britain, where she joined the Fabian Society and the Socialist League. In London, her career as a poet blossomed, both before and during the second world war.

Returning to the West Indies in the 1950s, she co-founded the Dominica Labour Party and became a minister in the cabinet of the short-lived Federation of the West Indies in Trinidad.

Back in Dominica, she ran a newspaper — The Dominica Star — and lived until her death in a tiny stone house filled with books and memories, of both the triumphs and the disappointments that characterised her personal and political life. Her acclaimed novel, The Orchid House, was first published in 1953, re-issued thirty years later by Virago Modern Classics and filmed for Channel 4 television in 1991.