Happy Birthday, Anaïs Nin!

Anaïs Nin was born on February 21, 1903 and started writing at a young age.  When she was eleven, she began the diaries that would later make her famous.  At the time she wrote these diaries as a correspondence to her father, who had left the family, but they would later become something entirely else.

In Nin’s diaries, she did something very few people do.  She expressed herself, digging into the depth of her experiences and describing her life and feelings.  Most people who write in diaries keep them under lock and key, but Nin eventually published hers, first in an edited form while she was alive, and then in unexpurgated volumes after her death.

In these diaries she depicted a life that was especially unique for her time.  Like so many girls growing up in the early twentieth century, she was expected to marry and have children.  While she did marry, she adamantly refused to have any children, and instead wanted to dedicate her life to her art.  Despite all the rejections she received for her books and diaries, she continued on with her devotion to the arts and her own vision.

Her diaries are of course woman-centered, because they are the intimate thoughts and reflections of a woman.  But her fictional works, including “House of Incest,” “A Spy in the House of Love” and “Collages” express different aspects of a woman’s life.  Nin would say that she wouldn’t copy the voice of male writers.  The style she created is very unique: lush, sensual, emotional, sensitive.

Though she was writing from a young age, her career didn’t take off until later in her life.  The first volume of her diary was published in 1966, and in the midst of the feminist movement it hit a nerve.  She became a sought-after speaker and feminist idol.  She died in 1977, but her books continue to be popular since she wrote about such human — and especially female — issues.

Some Inspiring Anaïs Nin Quotes:

“How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.”

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

“It’s all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all.”

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

“Don’t let one cloud obliterate the whole sky.”

“I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself.”

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation