Phyllis Shand Allfrey: Contribution as British Author

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      Phyllis Shand Allfrey (1915-1986) Journalist, politician and writer, who was born and lived in Dominica. She was active in the British Fabian Society, started the Labour Party in Dominica in 1955 and, when she was expelled from that, started the opposition Dominica Freedom Party. Allfrey became the first woman minister in the short-lived West Indian Federation in 1958. She was editor of the daily newspaper, the Dominica Star, and published four collections of poetry and a novel. Her short stories and a second novel may yet be published posthumously.

      Allfrey's poetry is not widely available but her novel, The Orchid House, continues to be read and was recently adapted for television. A member of the tiny white population of Dominica, Allfrey captures the disintegration of the old social order of the plantation system in her novel and points the way to reconstruction via an alliance across racial and social boundaries. The novel argues that the white landowning class must align themselves politically with the black masses and insists on the collective power of women working together to overthrow the decaying power of the patriarchal colonial order. Writing at a time when West Indian writing was the domain of male, black, writers, Allfrey remains an important, pioneering, literary figure.

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