biography - diary - comments - links
June Mansfield, also known as June Edith Smith, June Miller
June met Henry Miller in 1923 when she worked as a taxi dancer on broadway in New York and Miller was employed as personnel manager of Western Union. After Miller divorced his first wife, Beatrice Wickens, a pianist and piano teacher, he married June, in 1924, and left his job to devote himself fully to writing, while June developed various schemes to support them. In 1928, the Millers embarked on a lengthy tour of Europe, which included France, Austria, Hungary and Germany. In 1930, Miller went back to Paris, without June, desperately poor but buoyed in spirit, a period he later recalled in Tropic of Cancer. When June arrived for a brief visit in 1931, Miller introduced her to Anais Nin, at Louveciennes, and the two women immediately fell under each other's spell. The passionate involvement continued until June sailed for New York in the last week of January 1932. When June returned in October 1932, a complicated emotional struggle erupted. Miller, with the help of Nin and Alfred Perles, tried to escape to London, but ina final confrontation June asked for a divorce and left for New York, late in December 1932. The divorce came through in December 1934, via lawyers in Mexico, but June remained an obsessive riddle to Miller. June remarried and for some time was employed as a social worker in Queens, N.Y.
The following excerpts are taken from the unexpurgated diaries of Anais Nin and from the collection of her and Henry Miller's letters.
The page numbers refer to the following editions:
In the café I see the ashes under the skin of her face. Disintegration. What terrible anxiety I feel.
I want to put my arms around her. I feel her receding into death and I want to follow her, to embrace her.
She is dying before my eyes. Her tantalizing somber beauty is dying. Her strange manlike strength.
I do not make any sense out of her words. I am fascinated by her eyes andmouth, her discolored mouth, badly rouged. Does she know I feel immobil and fixed, lost in her?
When she sat on the couch downstairs, the opening of her dress showed the beginning of her breasts, and I wanted to kiss her there.
I was acutely upset and trembling. I was becoming aware of her sensitiveness and fear of her own feelings. She talked, but now i knew she talked to evade
a deeper inner talk - the things we could not say.
June left Paris for America in January and returned in October. In the meantime Anais and Henry had become lovers, she is afraid what will happen when June returns.
I spent a night with my beloved. I ask only that he does not return to America with June, which
reveals to him how much I care. And he makes me swear that whatever happens when June comes I must believe in him
and in his love. It is a difficult thing for me to promise.
June telephoned me, and I felt no pang at the sound of her voice, no bliss, none of the excitement I expected to feel.
She is coming to Louveciennes tomorrow night.
Midnight. June. June and madness. June and I standing at the station and kissing while the train
rushes by us. I am seeing her off. My arm is around her waist. She is trembling.
"Anais, I'm happy with you." It is she who offers her mouth.
In a letter to Henry, dated Feb 22 1932, she writes:
We have lost our minds - to June. Both you and I would foolow her into death ... at moments. She has destroyed reality. She has destroyed conscience. (You say you haven't any - I say I haven't any, butit is not so true about us as it is about June. Example: Why are you always so thoughtful of Hugh, so considerate?) June is not bothered by truth. She invents her life as she goes along - she sees no difference between fiction and reality. How we love that in her - she takes the imagination seriously. At moments you want to follow June into death, but at others you react violently with a vigorous assertion of youe magnificient livingness.
The following passages are taken from the biography of Anais Nin written by Deirdre Bair, one of the
few people who were allowed unlimited access to unpublished writing of Anais Nin, including more than
250,000 handwritten diary pages.
Anais Nin. A biography was published in 1995 by Putnam, New York, in hardback, and in 1996 by Penguin in paperback.
Buy this book online
more infos on this book
commenting on Nin's exclamation at meeting June that for the first time she saw "the most beautiful woman on earth" Bair writes:
Anais must have willed herself to see beauty, for although June was a striking sight, no one else had ever called her beautiful. Her outfit may have seen slapdash, but June had dressed carefully because she had heard from Miller's "gang" about the exotic stage-set of a house and its even more exotic mistress. She wore her favourite red velvet dress which had holes in both sleeves and several large spots and stains down its front, [...]. Her face was covered with heavy white powder, and she rimmed her eyes with kohl as heavily as did Anais. June's coup de grâce, however, was lipstick that was either bvlack or bilious green. [...]
Although Anais was exceptionally slim, she was not the petite woman so many writers have described. She was five foot six inches tall [...] In her high-heeled sandals, she towered over the tiny June, who in her run-down heels stood five feet two inches at the most.
Anais found the reality of June better than Henry's stories about her.
Having convinced herself that she and Henry would be lovers only of each other's writing, Anais now convinced herself that
she was physically in love with June. This was partly because Henry had told her of June's several lesbian
affairs in New York, and because she wanted so much to be important in June's life that she would have done anything to
ensure it. The problem was, she did not know what lesbians did with each other.
Before Anais could act, June returned abruptly to New York after several weeks when the two women were poised on the brink of a sexual encounter that never progressed beyond kissing, hand-holding, and fondling. Anais initiated it by questioning June about her lesbian experiences, but June also coaxed things along, taking perverse pleasure in provoking Anais to constantly escalating displays of passion, which she promptly told in great (and sometimes exaggerated) detail to Henry.