Who is Anais Nin?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

The author Anais Nin was born Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell on 21 February 1903 in Neuilly France. She is best known for her journals, which span over sixty years, and her erotic writings. Nin began keeping a journal when she was eleven years old. She continued to journal until shortly before her death on 14 January 1977.

Anais Nin was a French author known for her journals and erotic writings.
Anais Nin was a French author known for her journals and erotic writings.

Anais Nin was born to parents Joaquin Nin, a Cuban pianist and composer, and Rosa Culmell a Cuban singer. Nin's mother was of Danish and French ancestry. She had two brothers, Thorvald Nin and Joaquin Nin-Culmell. When her parents separated, Nin's mother took her along with her two brothers from Barcelona, where they had been living, to New York City. The author's famed diaries indicate that she left formal schooling when she was sixteen years old to begin work as a model.

Anais Nin began writing in a journal when she was 11-years old and continued the practice throughout her life.
Anais Nin began writing in a journal when she was 11-years old and continued the practice throughout her life.

Anais Nin married her first husband on 3 March 1923, in Havana, Cuba. Hugh Parker Guiler, later known as Ian Hugo, was a banker and an artist. He changed his name when he began making experimental films in the late 1940s. Shortly after marrying, the couple moved to Paris where Nin pursued her interest in the craft of writing. During the course of her life, Anais Nin maintained romantic relationships with men other than her husband, most notably with author Henry Miller. She married a second time Rupert Pole, a man sixteen years her junior.

Anais Nin was born in 1903 outside of Paris in Neuilly, France.
Anais Nin was born in 1903 outside of Paris in Neuilly, France.

Anais Nin's first published works, such as D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, were nonfiction. Following the publication of her critical evaluation of D. H. Lawrence and over the course of her career, Anais Nin published the following works:

  • Collages
  • Winter of Artifice
  • Under a Glass Bell
  • House of Incest
  • Delta of Venus
  • Little Birds
  • Cities of the Interior
  • The Diary of Anaïs Nin
  • The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin
  • The Novel of the Future
  • In Favor of the Sensitive Man
  • Henry and June
  • Incest
  • Fire
  • Nearer the Moon

The Diary of Anais Nin was published in seven volumes. The Early Diary of Anais Nin was published in four volumes. Cities of the Interior was published in five volumes, each with its own title. The titles from Cities of the Interior are: Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, and Seduction of the Minotaur.

Four years before her death, Nin was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Art.

Anais Nin was born in 1903 in Neuilly, France.
Anais Nin was born in 1903 in Neuilly, France.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@bythewell - I really admire her because she was one of the first modern female authors of erotica. Specifically, erotica which was supposed to be read by women. There was plenty of erotica around that could be read by men, but she managed to give it a female perspective which was very brave, considering when she did it.

In fact, she managed it even before the feminism movement took off.

It surprised me when I found out though that she wasn't a big fan of that movement. I would have thought she would applaud it.

But then, sometimes people who managed to manipulate the current system in ways that suit them are advocates for maintaining the status quo.


I have to confess that I was absolutely obsessed with Anaia Nin when I was in high school. At the time her books seemed like the sexiest things I'd ever read and they were a nice outlet for a lot of the feelings that rage inside you at that age.

I can remember feeling so worldly and mature when I read her books even though I had never even been out of state. Ha, it all seems kind of silly in hindsight but I'm glad I had those books. Who knows what kind of outlet I would have found without them?


Anais Nin is one of my all time favorite writers. I have not read all of her works but I have read a lot of them and I am actually working my way through all the volumes of her diary right now.

I discovered her in college. She was not on the curriculum in any of my courses but a during a conversation after class one day a professor suggested that I check her out. The first thing I read was Henry and June and I was hooked immediately. There was this incredible combination of beauty and transgression in her writing.

I always recommend her to friends looking for a good read but unfortunately she is not usually received very warmly. I cannot deny that she is a unique writer and not suited to all tastes. But I think a patient and thoughtful writer will find a lot to like in her work.


Anais Nin was quite beautiful if you look up her photo online. Although she did concede to the style of the time and pluck her eyebrows, then replace them with paint, which I don't like so much.

She must have also been a very witty and passionate conversationalist, particularly for the times. She sounds like she was quite a bit more open minded than most people in the decades she was living in.

I can certainly see why she managed to have so many romantic interludes with different men over the course of her life.

I'm quite interested in reading her journals now, to be honest!

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