Anaïs Nin - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Anaïs Nin

Possibly the most frank female author in history, Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was a prolific writer who lived a salacious life and recorded all of it in a diary that, even expurgated, ran to seven published volumes. Born to Cuban parents in France, Nin spent most of her life in the United States. She married a banker-turned-artist, Hugh Parker Guiler, and moved to Paris with him for a few formative years. There she lived a bohemian lifestyle and developed many friendships with men, often taking them as lovers—including psychotherapist Otto Rank and author Henry Miller.

In the 1940s, she moved to New York City and began writing erotica with Miller and fellow author friends for an anonymous collector who paid them a dollar a page. Nin’s works of erotica later became a breakthrough for female sexuality by representing the feminine perspective for the first time in the genre. These writings were published posthumously in two collections: Delta of Venus and Little Birds. Nin took on a second husband, Rupert Pole, in a marriage that she had to annul in 1966 because she was technically still married to Guiler. She continued her bicoastal bigamy, though, remaining with Pole in California for the rest of her life.

Though Nin was a fixture on the literary scene, she didn’t find success with her own writing until she was sixty-three and The Diary of Anaïs Nin was published by Harcourt Brace. Soon after, she was the toast of the feminist scene, traveling around the United States to give lectures on her writing that covered her experiences with illegal abortion, multiple love affairs with famous men, and examination of the female self in contemporary culture.

“Life shrinks or expandes in proportion to one’s courage.”