23 May (1933): Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller

Below, Anaïs Nin accuses her lover, Henry Miller, of being “cold” on a recent spring visit.  Later, Miller would claim that he had not made his usual advances because of Nin’s poor health at the time. He would also mention Nin’s father, a topic she seems to be avoiding in the letter below. During a long awaited visit, Nin had recently come to know her father (he had abandoned her at an early age). According to her writings, they would spend the coming summer having an incestuous affair.


[May 23, 1933]

Henry, when June said you were utterly selfish I never believed it. Today you shocked me deeply. I always knew you only loved me for what I could give you, and I was willing to understand and accept this because you were an artist. I made all the excuses for you. I never expected you to be human for a whole lifetime, even seven days a week. It didn’t seem so very difficult to be so one day a week, or a day after ten days. Since you left me that Monday Hugh returned, I realized you didn’t care a hang about what happened. You set out immediately to forget it all. You wrote me: I feel so insouciant. I didn’t mind all that. You accepted my desire to leave you free, free of everything. You knew I meant it. But as soon as as I freed you of all anxiety, you went back to your self-engrossed life. And I knew it. Friday I said to myself: I won’t let Henry come. He loves me selfishly, only for the good things. He doesn’t really care about me. And today you proved it. You felt well, healthy, carefree. You didn’t care about my life. You saw me after ten days and were cold. You didn’t even caress me. You didn’t come into the house to be gentle, after your callousness. The truth is you are completely happy in Clichy, alone. I will see that you will continue to have your security, your independence. But that is all, Henry. All the rest is dead. You killed it.


You say I’m touchy. So are you. Only, I spend my life watching over your touchiness. It may be touchy to want to talk to you as I did today—confide in you—and get the response I got. The only time I leaned on you, needed you. I needed you, Henry!

From A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller 1932-1953. Edited by Gunther Stuhlmann. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1965. pp. 156-7.

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Watch Ian Hugo’s 1952 short film, Bells of Atlantis, featuring the voice and words of Anais Nin.

Read an AMA with Anais Nin’s diary editor, Paul Herron.