One Hundred Biographers: Evelyn J. Hinz—a mystery
Anaïs Nin’s diaries came out in heavily edited form because the times and circumstances dictated it to be so. The unexpurgated diaries came out for the very same reasons. In short, Nin’s “autobiography” came out scattershot, and it was left to the devices of the readers to interpret and put together the seemingly infinite number of pieces to get the complete portrait of the woman Nin herself claimed to be one “no one could hold.”
According to the scholar Sharon Spencer, who was a close friend of Nin, the genesis of the idea of a biography occurred when, in the mid-70s, Canadian scholar “Evelyn J. Hinz persuaded Anaïs to name her ‘official’ biographer. In a brief letter which does not specify Hinz’s exclusive access to the unpublished diaries, Anaïs authorized her to proceed with research for a biography (“Forever Anaïs”).
How did Hinz get to the point where she would be entrusted with such important responsibilities, ones that would directly affect Nin’s legacy? Having written about D.H. Lawrence, Hinz’s first book-length study was The Mirror and the Garden (Ohio State Libraries, 1971–out of print), a criticism on Nin’s writing up to that point, only the second such book. In 1975, Hinz edited A Woman Speaks: The Lectures, Seminars, and Interviews of Anaïs Nin. So, needless to say, she had credentials. While Diary 7 contains relatively few references to Hinz, the idea of a biography is mentioned: “Evelyn Hinz persuaded me that a biography would supply a factual, objective completion of the Diary, which sometimes does not cover all the ground. If I agree, it will be for the Diary as well, to fill in” (Diary 7, 228). There is no development of the idea in Diary 7, however, since it ends in 1974.
After Nin’s death in 1977, Hinz did not follow through with a biography. Instead, she became more of a barrier to Nin study rather than a catalyst. Spencer says in “Forever Anaïs”: “It is now 1998. Twenty-three years later Evelyn Hinz has published nothing biographical on Anaïs and has ceased professional activity in seminars and conferences devoted to Anais’s life and writings. However, Hinz has struggled to bar other critics and scholars from access to Anaïs’s manuscripts and correspondence.”
By 1990, Rupert Pole and Gunther Stuhlmann had given up on the idea that Hinz would ever produce a biography and began a search for someone who would. The official biographer would be Deirdre Bair.
Some years later, Rupert Pole recognized his mortality and began to worry about Hinz’s status as his successor as executor, so he took action, going to court to bar Hinz from any ownership to the Nin archive. Hinz died at the age of 64 in 2002. Rumors flew about her: she had become a recluse. She was an alcoholic. She was insane. None of this can be substantiated—it is all hearsay. Certainly, something caused Hinz to cease her scholarly activities, but what it was is up for debate. There is no question Hinz was a champion of Nin during the 1970s, although Spencer believed she used Nin for her own purposes. But what happened to her, and the biography, after that time remains somewhat of a mystery.