ANAIS NIN was born on February 21, 1903, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris.Her mother, Rosa Culmell Nin, was a singer of Danish and French ancestry, and her father, Joaquin Nin, was a composer and musician of Catalan heritage. Both parents, however, were Cuban— and this mixture of nationality would fit neatly into Anaïs's own view of herself as a being of multiple selves. When her father left the family—a singularly devastating event for the young girl—her mother brought Anaïs and her two brothers to New York City, in 1914. Anaïs attended public schools until 1918, when she dropped out and began educating herself in the public libraries. From the age of 11, she began a diary both as a letter to her lost father and as a personal haven. The diaries were also literarily self-conscious, and in them Nin would begin to address the question of the fragmented self.
At 21, Nin married Hugh Guiler, who as Ian Hugo became known as a filmmaker, engraver, and illustrator of her books. They moved to Paris, where she remained until the outbreak of World War II. In France her literary career began with the publication of the critical work D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study in 1932. American author Henry Miller took an interest in the book, and with him Nin would develop a lifelong attachment that was both professional and passionate. During the 1930s she assisted Miller in the publication of his first book, Tropic of Cancer ( 1934), and he advised her on her surrealistic prose poem House of Incest ( 1936). The surrealist movement and the influence of Nin's study of psychoanalysis under Otto Rank may be detected throughout her work. Her literary and artistic circle in Paris included writers Lawrence Durrell, Antonin Artaud, and Michael Fraenkel.Many of those in her circle, however—including Durrell and Miller—objected to Nin's self-exploratory writing, which she herself considered particularly female: a writing from the womb. She would dedicate herself to this project.
Nin returned to New York City at the beginning of World War II. Unable to find a publisher for her work, she established the Gemor Press (her second such press) and, at her own expense, printed copies of her novels and short stories. Winter of Artifice, a collection of three novelettes, was published in 1939, followed by two collections of stories, Under a Glass Bell ( 1942) and This Hunger ( 1945), and by her first novel, Ladders to Fire ( 1946). Although they received no critical atten