Today, in honour of this being International Women's Day, we're going to remember a very special woman from the past, Anais Nin.
We recently celebrated her life and work in our TEXT issue which you can still buy here. The piece we published was very kindly written for us by a knowledgeable chap called Paul Herron who knows everything about Nin and runs a publishing company called Sky Blue Press. He set the company up after accumulating over 500 pages of content from more than 60 contributors for the book Anais Nin: A Book of Mirrors, an anthology of reactions to Nin's life and work. Paul decided that, rather than letting a zealous editor hack the work about, it'd be better if he published it himself. And so he did.
That was in 1996 and since then Sky Blue Press has published the long lost original version of The Winter of Artiface, an anthology entitled The Portable Anais Nin along with digital versions of Nin's fiction and, since 2003, has produced A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal. In 2013, Sky Blue Press partnered with Swallow Press and brought out Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947. The book is available both in print and digital versions but you can enter our competition here and potentially win yourself one for nothing but a little effort.
For those of you who haven't yet bought the issue we'll summarise briefly here what you've missed. Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell was born on the 21st February 1903 in Neuilly, France. A small, sickly child, she was called 'ugly' by her father, Joaquín, and quickly abandoned by him. She and her two brothers were shuttled off to America and lived a difficult life.
A young Anais Nin
She dropped out of school at 16, taught herself English, quit the Catholic Church and in 1923 married Hugh Guiler, an insecure young man with a promising future in banking. In 1924, Hugh was offered a job in Paris so the couple returned to the land of Anais' birth. This was not a happy situation to start with but she soon realised that she was a very attractive woman and, armed with her new erotic confidence, started 'testing the waters'.
She was a voracious lover and in 1931 met Henry Miller, the notorious writer of Tropic of Cancer, with whom she started an intense affair. She was also working on her fist book and the two spurred each other on in their literary ambitions. Henry was married to June, who was having an affair with someone else in New York and when Anais' father Joaquín turned up in 1933, Anais had an affair with him too. Then the war intervened and Anais and Hugh, who was still around, returned to America where she added another chapter to her 'erotic madness' by marrying Rupert Pole without divorcing Hugh.
Nin with first husband Hugh (left) and Nin's father, Joaquin (right)
Despite being a prolific writer it was not until the release of her heavily edited diaries in 1966 that she became a celebrity. She was to many, particularly young women, a guru who had done what they were all trying to do, to find themselves. You can read an extended mix of this summary in the TEXT issue and see how it all ended. You could also have a look at all the information you could get from Sky Blue Press. In conversation with Paul we decided it would be a great idea to create a podcast together, looking at some of the music that was important to Anais in her lifetime and include some short readings of Anais' work.
We were so busy post-Christmas with our summer event season that we couldn't find the time to close ourselves away in a studio and record our first podcast but the ever industrious Paul went ahead and did the podcast himself and then he sent it to us to share with you. We're sorry we're not on it but we love it all the same.
Click on the audio file below to hear more...