ANAÏS NIN (1903–1977) has become a modern icon, for the quality of her writing – both in her fiction and in her remarkably candid journals – for her commitment to feminist ideals, and for her notorious sexual adventurism. Her life was even the subject of a film, Henry and June.
Born in Paris, Nin moved to the USA at the age of eleven. She returned to France ten years later after her marriage to Hugo Guiler and studied under the psychologist Otto Rank. During this time she became acquainted with many of the great artists and writers of the period, the most important of these being Henry Miller, with whom she began a life-long association.
Although Nin was a talented writer of novels, short stories and erotica, her fame has always been linked to the mythology that surrounded her person. The first publication of her unexpurgated journals after her death in 1977 caused a sensation, not least for the revelation that she had been married to two men simultaneously, one in New York, the other in California, without either being aware of the other. The facts of Anaïs Nin’s life, however fascinating, should not detract from her importance as a writer, for there is no doubt that she was a seminal writer of the past century.
‘The works of Anaïs Nin have had and continue to have a conspicuous influence on the Western literary style , carving a path for the revivification of the word. At the same time, through her explorations of the inner experience and the nature of human communication and relationship, her writing has helped to transform consciousness (particularly of women) and lead the self on to its path toward individual freedom.’
– From her nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature endorsed by Henry Miller, Christopher Isherwood, Lawrence Durrell and many others