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Pictures dated unknown, c. 1920 and 2007
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82nd Avenue

French born Ana´s Nin (1903 - 1977) achieved fame as the first woman author of erotica. Her father was Spanish composer, Joaquin Nin, who abandoned the family when she was just a young girl. In 1914, Nin's mother emigrated from Barcelona to New York bringing along 11 year old Ana´s and her two brothers. For a time, they stayed in the home of Ana´s's maternal uncle, Cmdr. Gilbert Chase, who lived on Onslow Place (today's 82nd Avenue) between Austin Street and Kew Gardens Road. The Chase house is in the background of the circa 1920 photograph. Nin's contact with Kew Gardens was just a passing one, but she seemed quite taken with"Kiou" [her spelling for "Kew"] as her diary entries show:
[August 12, 1914]
"... Then I dressed and we took the train to Kiou [Kew]! It is beautiful! In the country, pretty houses with little gardens, flowers, small neat white streets."

[August 13, 1914]
"Description of heaven on earth. Green lawns strewn with flowers, tiny houses, little white roads neatly designed, a few trees, bright sunshine, small gardens full of flowers. ... I have to say hurrah for Kiou [Kew] Gardens ... hurrah for the God who has sent us to this earthly paradise."

[March 20, 1915]
"At Kiou [Kew]! We are at Kiou [Kew]. The doctor recommended it for a complete cure." [Nin and her mother had contracted pleurisy.]

The family wound up living at 620 Audley (116th) Street in Richmond Hill. After marrying, Ana´s and her husband lived briefly in an apartment in Forest Hills, and then moved to a bungalow back in Richmond Hill.

For most of her life, Nin was an obscure literary figure moving between Paris and Greenwich Village. She finally caught the public's attention in 1966 with the publication of personal diaries she first began writing during the ocean voyage to New York 52 years before. The success of her diaries brought renewed interest in her previously self-published novels. Her erotica works, The Delta of Venus and Little Birds, were published posthumously, some 3 decades after she had written them.

Nin was friends with some of the leading literary figures of her day, including Henry Miller, Edmund Wilson, James Agee, and Lawrence Durrell. She was also romantically involved with Miller, Wilson, Gore Vidal and prominent Austrian psychologist, Otto Rank.

Although a life long feminist, Nin ended up distancing herself from the more political forms of feminism, arguing that the tendency toward group thinking weakened a woman's will and inhibited the personal growth and fulfillment needed for true liberation.

Sources:
  • Deirdre Bair, Ana´s Nin - A Biography, (G.P. Putnam & Sons 1995)

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