Anaïs Nin was an author born to Cuban parents in France, where she was also raised. She wrote journals (which span more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death), novels, critical studies, essays, short stories, and erotica. A great deal of her work, including Delta of Venus and Little Birds, was published posthumously.
Anaïs Nin short biography
Anaïs Nin was born on 21st February 1903 in Neuilly, France, to artistic parents. Born in a family where art was wholeheartedly appreciated, Nin began writing when she was very young. She never gained any formal education after the age of sixteen when she left school and worked as a model for an artist until her mother moved her to New York City where Nin spent most of her time writing her diaries. She got married to her first husband Ian Hugo (Hugh Parker Guiller) in March 1923 and moved to Paris the next year.
Her diaries Vol.1, 1931–1934 tell us about her intimate relationship with Henry Miller, an American writer and painter. Her husband did not want to become a part of these diaries so he is not mentioned anywhere in them, but Nin was a part of Ian’s film ‘Bells of Atlantis’ (1952). At the age of 44 she met the actor Rupert Pole and developed a passionate romantic relationship with him that ended in marriage in March 1955. Her first husband was completely unaware of Nin’s marriage to Pole. This ‘bicoastal trapeze’ led to Nin leading two lives which revolved around lies. The following statement by Nin shows us how confusing her life had become. “I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight.” After some legal issues that arose due to claims by Pole and Guiller as having her as a dependent on their tax returns, the marriage between Nin and Pole had to be annulled. Despite the end of their marriage, they continued to live together till her death.
All these incidences were mentioned in her diaries, and that is what Nin is known best for. Her journals provide us with a deep understanding of her personal life. Pole, Guiller and Miller were not her only lovers. She was involved with several other men, all of them prominent authors or important figures. She is also popular for her erotic novels and was one of the very few women in the modern West who authored erotica. Her famous novels of this nature were published in the 1970s. These include ‘Delta of Venus’ and ‘Little Birds’. Nin was thought to be bisexual because of her ‘ménage à trois’ between her, Henry Miller and his wife June Mansfield Miller, although she completely denies this claim.
Some of Nin’s novels are ‘Under a Glass Bell’ (1944), ‘Seduction of the Minotaur’ (1958), ‘In Favor of a Sensitive Man’ (1976) and ‘Waste of Timelessness: And Other Early Stories’ that she wrote in 1932, but was published posthumously.
Anaïs Nin took part in some of the most remarkable literary movements and artistic engagements that happened in the 20th century. These include the ‘surrealist movements’ of the 1930s and the 1940s, the ‘Avant Garde’ crowd, and the feminist movement in the 1960s.
In 1973 Anaïs Nin received an honorary doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Art. She was elected to the United States National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974. In 1976 she was presented with a Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year award.
She died in Los Angeles on January 14, 1977, three years after being diagnosed with cancer.