The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.
~ Anaïs Nin
Like so many great artists, writer Anaïs Nin received more accolades for her work after her death. During the decades she was living life to its fullest and writing passionately about sensual topics, she was mostly ignored and sometimes shunned. Back then she was one of the only writers writing explicitly about sex from the woman’s point of view, and she didn’t shy away from related topics including illegal abortions, extramarital affairs, and even incest. In modern times, Anaïs would’ve been a rebel. Back in the 1940s when she was creating her mesmerizing stories, she was an outcast.
Anaïs may not have become a trailblazer and a rule-breaker until she was an adult, but her formative years had a huge impact on her wild, untamed personality!
A childhood among artists
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
~ Anaïs Nin
Born in France in 1903 as Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell (what a mouthful!), Anaïs spent her early years absorbing the cultural wonders of Europe. Her father was Joaquín Nin, a Cuban composer, and her mother was Rosa Culmell, a classically trained singer, so she and her two brothers grew up in a household filled with music. Her father left when Anaïs was just two years old, so the family moved from France to Spain where they stayed until she was a teen. Joaquín was not gone forever, though, and would reappear as a frightening figure in her life just a few years later ...
While in Spain, Anaïs took up a practice that would become totally transformative: journaling. At the age of 11, she began keeping a rich and detailed diary of her thoughts and experiences. These diaries would come to be the source materials for her future books, and many would eventually be published in their original forms.
Also during that time, her father came back into her life, and began to abuse her sexually. She was only nine years old, and would one day recount these experiences in the third volume of her journals, titled Incest.