Books | August 20, 2017 1:07 pm

How Erotic Fiction Author Anaïs Nin Juggled Two Husbands

The mid-20th-century writer kept both spouses hidden from each other.

Anais Nin, author, in a 1972 portrait. (Getty Images)
Anais Nin, author, in a 1972 portrait. (Getty Images)

Anaïs Nin, a French writer known for her erotic fiction, led a life scandalous enough to be the plot in one of her novels. She juggled two husbands, one in Los Angeles and another in New York.

The writer was already married to Hugo Guiler for more than twenty years when she met Robert Pole, a young out-of-work actor, at a party in the East Village in 1947. Pole eventually left New York to work as a forest ranger in California and thus began Nin’s bi-coastal “trapeze act,” according to the New York Post.

The elaborate affair is detailed in a new book written by the author’s assistant. In Apprenticed to Venus: My Secret Life With Anaïs Nin, Tristine Rainer described her life working for Nin and working to keep Nin’s two lives separate. With Rainer’s help, Nin managed to keep the two men in the dark until she lay on her deathbed.

The author kept detailed accounts of her lies in two books in order to keep them straight, according to the New York Post. When Guile became suspicious of Nin’s extended California visits, the author convinced Rainer, a UCLA student at the time, to steal letterhead from the university and write fake letters inviting her out to give a series of lectures.