Anaïs Nin was an American born to Hispanic/Cuban parents in France on February 21, 1903. Although we associate the author with Paris, she spent most of her life living in the U.S.
A writer of essays, short stories and novels, Nin’s literary triumph was the publication of her diaries which chronicled more than six decades of experiences. Nin carried on a famous affair with author Henry Miller and it was during her time with him that the pair both started writing erotica to make ends meet. In the Paris of the 1930’s, enterprising publishers cultivated collectors of forbidden writing and paid authors well and quickly for custom-crafted smut. Nin was a pioneer as one of the first women to ply the dirty book trade and she eventually let the works be collected and published widely under the titles Delta of Venus and Little Birds. She’s considered to be among the best writers of the female sexual experience.
Along with Miller, Nin became a counterculture hero during the unrest of the 1960’s. While Miller championed freedom of libido in his writing and fought for free of speech in his battles against censorship, Nin was perceived as the kind of strong, talented, liberated woman that the just-budding feminist movement was still trying to articulate. While she became a popular lecturer at universities, Nin never became involved in radical politics. It seemed she was always a lover more than a fighter. Nin died of cancer in 1977.
Here is the woman herself as she appeared in Kenneth Anger’s The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1954