45 Christopher Street, New York, NY 10014
Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977), known professionally as Anaïs Nin, was a French-American diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories and erotica. Born to Cuban parents in France, Nin was the daughter of composer Joaquín Nin and Rosa Culmell, a classically trained singer. Nin spent her early years in Spain and Cuba, about sixteen years in Paris (1924–1940), and the remaining half of her life in the United States, where she became an established author.
Historical homosocial and homosexual communities of expatriate American and English women lived in Paris on the Left Bank of the Seine during the opening decades of the twentieth century. The place and time has captured the imaginations of feminist and queer historians, literary critics, art historians, and cultural theorists. These histories of women and their cultural productions are attractive because they demand a rethinking and rewriting of the canonical histories of masculine modernism. The geographical and spiritual locus for these groups were the literary and artistic salons of Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein, as well as the bookshops and publishing houses owned by Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier. Congregating at these cultural landmarks, Janet Flanner, Colette, Renée Vivien, Djuna Barnes, Hilda Doolittle, Claude Cahun, Marcel Moore (Suzanne Malherbe), Anaïs Nin, and many others invented new ways of living and representing themselves and each other. Martha Vicinus writes: The most striking aspect of the lesbian coteries of the 1910s and 1920s was their self-conscious effort to create a new sexual language for themselves that included not only words but also gestures, costume and behavior. Lillian Faderman notes that these Parisian communities “functioned as a support group for lesbians to permit them to create a self-image which literature and society denied them.”
Photographed October 6, 1940, by Carl Van Vechten
Beginning at age eleven, Nin wrote journals prolifically for six decades and even up until her death. Her journals, many of which were published during her lifetime, detail her private thoughts and personal relationships. Her journals also describe her marriage to Hugh Parker Guiler and bigamous marriage to Rupert Pole, in addition to her numerous affairs, including those with psychoanalyst Otto Rank and writer Henry Miller, both of whom profoundly influenced Nin and her writing.
Nin (who had been born in Paris) returned to her native city just prior to 1930.
According to her diaries, Vol.1, 1931–1934, Nin shared a bohemian lifestyle with Henry Miller during her time in Paris. Her husband Guiler is not mentioned anywhere in the published edition of the 1930s parts of her diary (Vol. 1–2) although the opening of Vol. 1 makes it clear that she is married, and the introduction suggests her husband refused to be included in the published diaries. The diaries edited by her second husband, after her death, tell that her union with Henry Miller was very passionate and physical, and that she believed that it was a pregnancy by him that she aborted in 1934.
In 1947, at the age of 44, she met former actor Rupert Pole in a Manhattan elevator on her way to a party. The two ended up dating and traveled to California together; Pole was sixteen years her junior. On March 17, 1955, while still married to Guiler, she married Pole at Quartzsite, Arizona, returning with him to live in California. Guiler remained in New York City and was unaware of Nin's second marriage until after her death in 1977, though biographer Deirdre Bair alleges that Guiler knew what was happening while Nin was in California, but consciously "chose not to know".
Nin referred to her simultaneous marriages as her "bicoastal trapeze". According to Deidre Bair:
[Anaïs] would set up these elaborate façades in Los Angeles and in New York, but it became so complicated that she had to create something she called the lie box. She had this absolutely enormous purse and in the purse she had two sets of checkbooks. One said Anaïs Guiler for New York and another said Anaïs Pole for Los Angeles. She had prescription bottles from California doctors and New York doctors with the two different names. And she had a collection of file cards. And she said, "I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight."
In 1966, Nin had her marriage with Pole annulled, due to the legal issues arising from both Guiler and Pole trying to claim her as a dependent on their federal tax returns. Though the marriage was annulled, Nin and Pole continued to live together as if they were married, up until her death in 1977. According to Barbara Kraft, prior to her death Anaïs had written to Hugh Guiler asking for his forgiveness. He responded by writing how meaningful his life had been because of her.
After Guiler's death in 1985, the unexpurgated versions of her journals were commissioned by Pole. Six volumes have appeared (Henry and June, Fire, Incest, Nearer the Moon, Mirages, and Trapeze). Pole died in July 2006.
Nin once worked at Lawrence R. Maxwell Books, located at 45 Christopher Street in New York City. In addition to her work as a writer, Nin appeared in the Kenneth Anger film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) as Astarte; in the Maya Deren film Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946); and in Bells of Atlantis (1952), a film directed by Guiler under the name "Ian Hugo" with a soundtrack of electronic music by Louis and Bebe Barron. In her later life, Nin worked as a tutor at the International College in Los Angeles.
In addition to her journals, Nin wrote several novels, critical studies, essays, short stories, and volumes of erotica. Much of her work, including the collections of erotica Delta of Venus and Little Birds, was published posthumously amid renewed critical interest in her life and work. Nin spent her later life in Los Angeles, California, where she died of cervical cancer in 1977.
Nin was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1974. She battled the cancer for several years as it metastasized, and underwent numerous surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Nin died of the cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1977.
Her body was cremated, and her ashes were scattered over Santa Monica Bay in Mermaid Cove. Her first husband, Hugh Guiler, died in 1985, and his ashes were scattered in the cove as well. Rupert Pole was named Nin's literary executor, and he arranged to have new, unexpurgated editions of Nin's books and diaries published between 1985 and his death in 2006. Large portions of the diaries are still available only in the expurgated form. The originals are located in the UCLA library.
My published books:
BACK TO HOME PAGE