The life of Anaïs Nin is a major chapter in the literary history of our time. More is known about her now than during her extraordinary life, and yet much remains for scholars to explore. One of these is the fruitful relationship with The Swallow Press of Chicago, a relationship that has simply vanished from view. However, some of those who worked with Anaïs at Swallow Chicago are alive and well, available to pass on their memories.
This interview with Morton Weisman, owner of The Swallow Press, took place over several sessions in late 2004 and early 2005. The Swallow Press continues to be the publisher of Anaïs Nin’s fiction and other Nin-related books. Though these books have been available through Ohio University Press since 1980, the Weisman family is still the owner of The Swallow Press.
Fewer and fewer people who knew Anaïs personally are alive to set the story straight about what an extraordinary woman, artist, and cultural influence she was. Though two excruciatingly detailed biographies have been written about Anaïs in recent years, neither biography accounts for the 13 years when Swallow Chicago was publishing Nin’s fiction and other related books and actively promoting her work. Perhaps this omission should come as no surprise, given the skewed and unrecognizable (to anyone who knew Nin) portrayal of her in those biographies.
The story of The Swallow Press of Chicago expands on Nin’s special relationship with small press publishing. In the early days of her life in the U.S., she hand-set and printed her own books, and later Alan Swallow of Denver kept Nin’s fiction alive when no other publisher was interested. With investments of energy, enthusiasm, and money, The Swallow Press of Chicago made its own special contribution to her work. For further study, the complete files of The Swallow Press are archived in the Special Collections Department of the University of Illinois in Chicago, a treasure trove for some literary or cultural historian. [For a fascinating essay on Swallow’s place in “the small press movement” and a guide to The Swallow Press archives, see http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/rjd/findingaids/Swallow.pdf.]
Many people don’t realize that when Nin finally decided to publish her Diaries, she first offered them to Alan Swallow of Denver. He had previously rescued her fiction, and Nin said after his death, “If he had not kept the other books in print, the Diary might never have been published.” Realizing that his one-man operation could not handle such a major venture, Swallow made a deal for joint publication with the New York house of Harcourt Brace. He died not long after, and his publishing operation was purchased and moved to Chicago under the new name of The Swallow Press. The joint publication of the Diaries is the issue referred to in Weisman’s description of dealing with Gunther Stuhlmann, Nin’s agent.
To those of us who knew her, Anaïs Nin was an extraordinary woman whose life and work continues to affect millions of people until the present day. Though she did finally receive recognition in her lifetime, she never forgot what a struggle it was. This, combined with her innate generosity, inspired her to nurture the creativity of others. She unfailingly wrote blurbs for other people’s books and projects, recommended that people enjoy the books, films, paintings, photography, and other works that she loved, tried to bring artists together, and generally fostered an aura of creative energy everywhere she was and anywhere she went.
It is our hope that one day Anaïs Nin will be recognized for this gift as well as for her famous diaries and her innovative fiction. She was and is a muse as well as an artist. As she always hoped it would be, her life is her greatest work of art.
IPPOLITO: When was the first time you met Anaïs Nin?
WEISMAN: It was right after we bought the Press. I can’t remember who made the first contact, but she said she was going to be speaking at Harvard, and I said I would like to meet her. I went up to Cambridge. We had a cup of coffee and talked for a long time.
IPPOLITO: Was this before all the arrangements were made with Gunther Stuhlman? This is when everything was still up in the air?
WEISMAN: It was after we bought the press and, yes, it was before we had finalized anything with Gunther. I think I only met Gunther once or twice in New York.
IPPOLITO: So, at the time when you first met Nin you still didn’t know what was going happen with her fiction, but you wanted to at least–
WEISMAN: No, we were pretty sure Swallow Press was going to keep the fiction. The issue really was the Diaries. In the end, Gunther managed to keep us from getting any of the participation that Alan Swallow would have gotten had he lived.
IPPOLITO: In another conversation with me, you speculated that it was because Gunther really only respected the New York publishers.
WEISMAN: I don’t think there’s any question that’s what it was. I think that Anaïs on her own got Alan to publish her, and Gunther never did much for her, as far as I could tell.
IPPOLITO: Well, that’s why I always wondered about him. He wrote the introductions to the Diaries and is supposed to be the editor, but I wonder if that’s actually true. I know he was very protective of Nin’s rights, though. Even when Moira was setting up the Nin website, he was somewhat difficult. For example, he told her she couldn’t publish Anaïs’s letters to her.
WEISMAN: That’s absurd.
IPPOLITO: Yes, but I think he became more helpful when he realized that the site was mean to be an antidote to the distorted portrayal in the biographies. Rupert [Pole] was all for it, but Gunther only became helpful when he realized that the site wasn’t a profit-making venture.
WEISMAN: Well, whether it was or not, if Anaïs wrote letters to Moira, those are Moira’s.
IPPOLITO: I know. That’s what I said. But back to Gunther, you first met with him in New York, right?
WEISMAN: Yes, he had his office in a brownstone or something like that, not in a regular office building. He was an old-World European type, but he was very unpleasant even though. My impression was that he was indifferent toward anything the Press wanted to do for Nin and only interested in getting his money.
IPPOLITO: So, you don’t really know that much about him either.
WEISMAN: I didn’t meet him a lot, maybe twice, and I never understood her relationship with him.
IPPOLITO: I don’t either. I thought that maybe you knew a little bit more about his actual contribution–or lack of–to the Diaries. He was supposed to be the editor, but Nin’s actual editor was John Ferrone at Harcourt Brace. She worked very closely with him on the Diaries.
WEISMAN: I think the idea that Gunther got credit for editing the diaries was a bunch of baloney, but maybe he really did.
IPPOLITO: It’s just a great mystery.
WEISMAN: Well, remember, everything with Nin was a mystery.
IPPOLITO: I think Sharon [Spencer] would have known the facts about Gunther’s contribution to the Diaries, but Sharon died a couple of years ago. She was very close to Anaïs, to Rupert, and to John Ferrone. She was always telling me these great stories about all of them, but I wasn’t really trying to remember them. Now, I see that I was wrong. These memories are history, so we’ve got to get as much of it down as we can.
But let’s get back to Anaïs’s relationship with Swallow Press. Moira and I met with BJ Wagner [widow of Weisman’s partner and the editor-in-chief of the Swallow Press]. BJ gave us a copy of a master’s thesis or dissertation on Swallow Chicago that’s on file at the University of Illinois. I had to laugh at one thing when I read it. The author actually quotes me, I’m in his footnote as a source—just my last name, “Ippolito”–but my name is not in the dissertation as working at Swallow Press at all. And this same author never tried to interview you or Durrett or anybody.
WEISMAN: Yes, but what can we do about it?
IPPOLITO: Well, this interview is part of it. We’re gonna put this stuff on the website.
WEISMAN: Yes, that will help and that’ll create some conversation.
IPPOLITO: I don’t think any of this was done on purpose—I just think people didn’t know what to look for when they came around to write their biographies or their dissertation or whatever.
WEISMAN: Well, they’re lousy scholars if they didn’t know.
IPPOLITO: True, and one biography even won a National Book Award! Yet people think that Anaïs just went straight from Alan Swallow in Denver to Ohio University Press. The whole 13-year Swallow Chicago period is missing. If something this major is omitted from the biographies, what else is missing?
WEISMAN: Hadn’t Anaïs died by the time we sold the Press?
IPPOLITO: Shortly before.
WEISMAN: Maybe that has something to do with the omissions and errors.
IPPOLITO: Well, to me it was just shocking when I read the biographies to see that it was as though Swallow Chicago hadn’t even existed. I felt that it was a very important relationship that Anaïs had with us. It wasn’t a little thing. The Diaries obviously were best-sellers and there was more of a national recognition of them.
WEISMAN Yeah, but she was more interested in her fiction.
IPPOLITO: I’m just saying that Anaïs didn’t think it was nothing that she was connected with Swallow Press.
WEISMAN: No, no, it was important to her. I’m absolutely sure of that.
IPPOLITO: It seems to me like an injustice to you and to Durrett.
WEISMAN: To all of us.
IPPOLITO: But I wasn’t an owner so I’m not taking any credit for it. But let’s get back to the times you met Anaïs in person. Do you have a clear memory of that?
WEISMAN: I think the next time I met with her was at her house in California. And that was a fascinating experience because that’s when we met Rupert also.
IPPOLITO: When we went back a few years later, Anaïs was already sick.
WEISMAN: Oh, yes I remember, and we went out to dinner with just Rupert.
IPPOLITO: Which was very weird, wasn’t it? But, again, I don’t remember details, just that he told us she was sick.
WEISMAN: And we had no idea how bad it was.
IPPOLITO: So, what was Nin’s position in the Swallow Press list? Was she was one of the most important authors—or was she the most important author for Swallow Press in terms of sales?
WEISMAN: Probably she was the most important author for sales, in units. At least for awhile. We always thought Frank Waters was our most important author.
IPPOLITO: Well, I meant in commercial terms.
WEISMAN: Yes, she was very important to the Press because she gave us prestige. There’s no question about it. She was a personality, and being tied to her was helpful to the Press.
IPPOLITO: But also the sales, the sales of the books.
WEISMAN: We actually made the sales—how do I want to put this? When we took over the Press from Alan Swallow’s widow, Nin’s fiction sales were almost nothing, and by the time she died, her sales were very substantial.
IPPOLITO: I know, because Swallow was always promoting her, and that’s where I feel it’s such an injustice because you and Durrett were the ones who’d made the investment. Whether I was typing or writing or whatever I was doing, it wasn’t my money…I wasn’t making that–
WEISMAN: I think when it came to the marketing part, it was more me and you than anybody else.
IPPOLITO: Some of the things I remember are that she was always featured in those catalogs we sent out in the thousands to professors and bookstores. Those MLA catalogs, for example. And we would send out free copies of the books to teachers if they were considering teaching her work in a course. I don’t even know if publishers still do that anymore.
WEISMAN: We sent thousands of them out, and it made a difference.
IPPOLITO: Yes, I know it did. And then I remember we ran at least one full-page ad–at least one in Publishers Weekly–when the Anaïs Nin Reader came out. We used the dramatic photo of her in that long black cape. Do you remember that photo by Jill Krementz?
WEISMAN: That wonderful picture of her.
IPPOLITO: And then you made those up into a big glossy black and white poster, and we were mailing them out to the bookstores for free. And then she started calling up and saying, Oh, can you send some of those posters to this place and that? I remember packing them up and mailing them for free all over the country in those cardboard mailing tubes.
WEISMAN: I remember all that.
IPPOLITO: Well, I’m just saying all this so that it becomes a record. Don’t forget I’m recording this. Do you remember other things? I remember things that I did. I remember that somehow I got the idea in my head for her to come to Chicago. I don’t know how it came about. I know that Swallow paid her expenses, and that I called–
WEISMAN: Yeah, you set her up at Northwestern.
IPPOLITO: And I wrote to all these universities in the area. But I don’t know how that came to pass. I don’t remember where the idea came from because she wasn’t planning to be in Chicago for any reason.
WEISMAN: I don’t remember either except that it might have been around the time the MLA Convention was in Chicago, and we had that big party for all our authors who were in town.
IPPOLITO: Was she there?
WEISMAN: No she was not, but we thought about it afterward. I think it came out of that successful–
IPPOLITO: But why would we have brought her to Chicago? I didn’t even think anybody would answer when I wrote to the universities to try to set up lectures for her. Why would we have wanted to do that?
WEISMAN: Well, we had other authors on tour.
IPPOLITO: Oh, do you think she had a new book out at that time? I know we took her to an interview with Bob Cromie for his TV show Book Beat, and she also had an interview with Studs Terkel for WTTW.
WEISMAN: If Cromie was interviewing her, it had to be about a new book. It was either the Reader or Cities of the Interior. Or perhaps a new Diary had come out, and the media was interested because of that.
IPPOLITO: I can remember that Northwestern kept calling me back. At first they had her set up in some little room like they were doing us a favor. I remember they kept calling, and each time they were letting me know that they had moved the hall to a bigger and bigger room because of all the interest the event was generating.
WEISMAN: And finally they had an overflow, with people having to sit in a separate room from the lecture hall, watching it all via television camera.
IPPOLITO: And the students were all sitting on the stage, and in the aisles, and almost hanging from the rafters. Remember when she came out? She had to come out walking through the students sitting on the stage. I always remember her in that long, flowing skirt, moving so gracefully through all those bodies, like she was walking through a field of flowers.
WEISMAN: I remember, and we had a party afterward. It was lovely.
IPPOLITO: And she was also at the University of Chicago. And remember we took her to Northern Illinois University, too?
WEISMAN: Yes, with Lucien [Stryk]. You might go to the University of Illinois and look through the files. I bet you’ve got a lot of files for that meeting.
IPPOLITO: Do you think all the old files are there?
WEISMAN: Oh yeah.
IPPOLITO: So, all the stuff that was at Swallow on Wabash and on Junior Terrace ended up at the U of I. Well, then it would have to be there.
WEISMAN: You’d be able to find the dates and lock it up. And the letters. It might be fun for you.
IPPOLITO: Also I remember I wrote this really long promotional piece about her, which she later asked me to send to all the places where she was going to be speaking. We were always trying to do something.
WEISMAN: She was an important author for us, and it helped us a lot to have an author who was known outside of the West. Or who was known outside the purely academic world, like Allen Tate or J.V. Cunningham, who were pretty much only known in the academic world.
IPPOLITO: How is it possible that this story isn’t known? How many years was it from the time you bought the Press to the time it went over to Ohio University Press?
WEISMAN: I bought the Press in ‘67 and sold it in 1980. . .13 years.
IPPOLITO: That’s a substantial amount of time
WEISMAN: It was during a time when Anaïs had found a whole new audience.
IPPOLITO: It just boggles my mind that it’s completely lost to the rest of the world.
WEISMAN: But it’s 25 years since Ohio has had the Swallow Press list, even though they haven’t done anything particularly with it. They’ve had it longer than we did. But we did the publishing. They’ve done the republishing.
IPPOLITO: Well, it’s going to be rectified. Who knows why people didn’t contact you when writing those biographies or that dissertation? When they wrote the biographies, you’d think they’d want to talk to anybody who was still alive and played a role in Anaïs’s life.
WEISMAN: Well, you would have thought so, but they obviously–
IPPOLITO: I read those books, and I’d go and look at the footnotes and they were footnoting these people who were neighbors or acquaintances talking about how Anaïs liked to keep low lighting in her house so she’d look nice. The biographers were footnoting people who just had some opinion about Anaïs, not somebody that was really involved with her literary life, her career, her profession. Why would you want some neighbor’s comment abut her vanity rather than actually talking to people who worked with her and knew her on another level?
WEISMAN: Well. . .
IPPOLITO: I can’t figure out. I know you’ve said how charmed you were in Anaïs’s presence, and BJ Wagner said that she wasn’t worried at all when Durrett went to meet Anaïs, because she was thinking that, after all, Anaïs was 70 years old and so on. But when Durrett came back from the meeting, he couldn’t stop talking about her
WEISMAN: We were young. She was old, and she completely entranced us both. That was part of her stock in trade—to be entrancing.
IPPOLITO: Well, but I always thought it was sincere.
WEISMAN: Oh, it was sincere. It wasn’t an act. She was a very sensual person, and everyone responded to her on a very emotional level as well as an intellectual level.
IPPOLITO: Here’s the other thing for me. The big issue in the biographies is that they go on an on and on about Anaïs’s affairs. Apparently, this is all documented in her unexpurgated diaries. But I can’t put together the image that she was some manipulative, lying person—the image that comes out of those biographies—and what we know about her.
WEISMAN: I don’t know any author except maybe Frank Waters who wasn’t manipulative in some way, who wasn’t interested in aggrandizing themselves in one way or another, who didn’t want you to work harder for them and do other things for them, but she certainly was better than most and a sincere person. And if she had a whole lot of affairs, it’s because she was a very sensual woman.
IPPOLITO: That part of it doesn’t bother me at all, but when you read these books, you’d think she was the shallowest, lying, manipulative, self-centered–
WEISMAN: Those biographers could only have been–
IPPOLITO: They didn’t know her.
WEISMAN: They didn’t know her and they were jealous of her, one of those two things.
IPPOLITO: Yeah, that’s the feeling I get–that the people that wrote about her were jealous of a woman who just led her life in the way–
IPPOLITO: –the way she wanted to. Even though it did cause her to suffer. She never was able to do it openly and honestly and that did cause her a lot of suffering. Anyway, it’s a mystery why the biographers wouldn’t have tracked you and Durrett down. The biographies weren’t being written years and years after Swallow’s existence. They were being written not long after Ohio took over the books from Swallow.
WEISMAN: I don’t know either. I used to be hurt about all that stuff, but I’m not anymore.
[This interview took place on two separate occasions. Though some editing was done to eliminate repetition, I also wanted to maintain the sense of flow.]
IPPOLITO: So, how would you characterize the relationship between Anaïs Nin and The Swallow Press Chicago?
WEISMAN: Swallow and Nin had a very good working and personal relationship almost from the beginning of Swallow’s move to Chicago. I met her for the first time at Harvard, where she was giving a lecture. We had a long, one-on-one meeting, and we hit it off immediately. We agreed that Swallow would concentrate on promoting her fiction and help her in any way as she moved and spoke around the country.
IPPOLITO: Are you aware that many people believe Anaïs went from Alan Swallow as her publisher to the Ohio University Press?
WEISMAN: Most people are just ignorant about just who publishes what and what the function of a publisher really is. When Alan Swallow died, Nin’s fiction was selling in the hundreds of copies per year. After we bought the press and moved to Chicago, we were able, through hard work and marketing skill, to raise her sales to the tens of thousands per title. Only recently has Ohio University Press matched our sales for Nin, or, for that matter, any Swallow author. I guess people just don’t do enough–or any–research.
IPPOLITO: Who is the present owner of The Swallow Press? The books are currently published and sold by Ohio University Press. What is the arrangement with them?
WEISMAN: The Press was leased to Ohio University Press, NOT sold. The transaction was unique and has probably never been done before or since. The lease was renewable every 10 years, by mutual consent. I believe that the current lease is a 20-year term, and that at its end the Swallow Press will finally belong to Ohio University. The University pays a monthly rent, based on sales, to the owners, who are the family of Philip Weisman.
IPPOLITO: Did either of Nin’s recent biographers contact you for information about the years when she was associated with The Swallow Press in Chicago?
WEISMAN: No, none and none.
IPPOLITO: You knew Anaïs Nin personally. What are your strongest memories or impressions of her as a human being?
WEISMAN: Anaïs was the most bewitching person I have ever met. She seemed to only be interested in you when she was talking to you. That is very unique, in my experience. She seemed to be both very sophisticated and very simple all at the same time.
IPPOLITO: What are your thoughts about her as a writer? Do you believe she is an important literary figure?
WEISMAN: I have always thought her fiction was more interesting than her diaries, but I think her legacy as a writer was more as an inspiration to others to look within themselves and write what they feel and imagine rather than what might be expected.
IPPOLITO: Do you have any impressions of Nin’s impact on American culture after she became famous and began lecturing widely?
WEISMAN: I just don’t know, but Nin became a symbol of the women’s moment and the idea of self-actualization.
IPPOLITO: Were the novels and stories by Anaïs Nin an important part of the Swallow Press list?
WEISMAN: Our literary list was very modern, experimental, and non-mainstream. Nin’s fiction was at the very heart of that direction.
IPPOLITO: Apart from the fiction inherited from Alan Swallow’s list of books, what Nin titles did The Swallow Press Chicago publish on its own?
WEISMAN: Help me on this please, Donna.
IPPOLITO: Off the top of my head, I recall A Woman Speaks, Anaïs Nin Reader, Anaïs Observed, a reissue of Cities of the Interior. Also, Collage of Dreams, Sharon Spencer’s book on Nin’s work.
WEISMAN: Yes, I remember that it meant a lot to Anaïs to have her novels back together in a single volume [Cities of the Interior]. And we got the literary critic Anna Balakian to write a beautiful introduction.
IPPOLITO: Were you aware of Anaïs Nin or her books before purchasing The Swallow Press?
WEISMAN: No, but my partner and editor, Durrett Wagner, most certainly was.
IPPOLITO: What are some of the efforts you made to promote Nin’s fiction and other books about her? I remember some full-page ads in Publishers Weekly; a large glossy poster with the famous picture of her walking down the street in her long black cloak; bringing her to Chicago for lectures, constant mailings to professors to get her books adopted in college courses.
WEISMAN: All those things, particularly our efforts to get her work used in literature, writing, and women’s studies classes all over the world.
IPPOLITO: How did you come to buy Alan Swallow’s publishing company and move it to Chicago?
WEISMAN: Donna, you know that story. The year was 1967, and Chicago had just suffered through a major snowstorm that had completely shut down the entire city. I was then CEO of the second-largest book distribution company in the U.S., which had eleven hundred employees. After looking after them and the business through all that difficult time and then getting the business running again, I needed to get away somewhere.
All the nice, warm places like Florida and California were booked, so I went to Las Vegas, which was all I could get. On my first day there, I went to play golf and was teamed up with three lawyers in town for a meeting. One of them turned out to be the lawyer for the Alan Swallow estate. When he heard that I was involved in the book business, he kept asking my advice about how and to whom he could sell the Press.
By the end of four hours of golf, I had made a deal to buy the Press from Alan Swallow’s estate. Remember, I had been in the book business for seven years already and knew many people in the industry, particularly from the sales and distribution side.
IPPOLITO: Did you continue publishing in his vein or did you take the Press in a new direction?
WEISMAN: Between Durrett and myself, we maintained the idiosyncratic interests of Alan, including poetry, literary criticism, fiction, and Western American fiction and non-fiction, which
included some cookbooks, mountain climbing guides, and such, and we added contemporary politics and books of local Midwest interest to that list.
IPPOLITO: Were you the sole owner of the Press?
WEISMAN: The press was bought originally by myself, Durrett Wagner, Robert Weisman, and Morgan Reis. But soon only Durrett and I owned all the company, as the others dropped out for one reason or another.
IPPOLITO: How big was your staff?
WEISMAN: Our staff was small, never more than a handful of people. There was Durrett, Michael Anania as poetry editor and you as an editor, plus other talented people over the years.
IPPOLITO: Where was the Press located?
WEISMAN: Our office was on the sixth floor of an old warehouse building on South Wabash in Chicago.
IPPOLITO: I remember it so well. We had one big loft room with three desks, and two little offices for Durrett and Michael. The rest of the place was a warehouse, where all the books were stacked on skids. I remember thinking I had never seen so many books in one place at one time. I remember that the hotel across the street was famous because supposedly Al Capone once lived there. One street over on State Street were soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
WEISMAN: It looks completely different now. A few blocks away was Printer’s Row, where we used to get some of our books bound. Instead of a street full of bookbinders, now it’s a fashionable row of restaurants, shops, and condos.
IPPOLITO: How many books a year did Swallow Press publish.
WEISMAN: About 25 a year.
IPPOLITO: Was it difficult trying to compete with big publishing houses?
WEISMAN: Yes, it was very hard to compete with the large New York houses because most bookstores only carried 6,000 to 8,000 titles and the reviewing press was concentrated in New York City. We had to fight for everything we got, but by the time we leased the press to Ohio, we had increased Alan’s sales fivefold.
IPPOLITO: It was a major achievement even if it doesn’t feel that way to you.
WEISMAN: Our job at Swallow was never easy, but we did manage to get reviews all over the country and we had a nice presence and support in Chicago. Today, it is much easier for a small press to get its books distributed and noticed because the megabookstores stock 75,000 titles and the Internet has become a major way for buyers to find out about a wide variety of books. I wish we’d owned the Press under today’s conditions, rather than the ones we had to deal with.
IPPOLITO: Were Nin’s titles part of the deal, or did you have to negotiate separately with Gunther Stuhlmann?
WEISMAN: Nin’s novels and stories were part of the list, but any new material from Anaïs had to be negotiated with her agent, Gunther Stuhlmann,
IPPOLITO: What was it like working with him as Nin’s agent?
WEISMAN: Gunther was neither nice, nor helpful, nor friendly. I had no pleasure working with him, and I am sure that it was only Anaïs herself who made it possible for her work to stay with Swallow.
IPPOLITO: Nin first offered her diaries to Alan Swallow of Denver, but they were ultimately published by Harcourt Brace, a large New York publisher. What can you tell us about that?
WEISMAN: That happened just before Alan’s untimely death. Actually, the first diaries were jointly published by Harcourt and Swallow, but after Alan’s death Gunther made it only Harcourt. He didn’t mind screwing us as the new owners, even though the original plan had been to jointly publish all the diaries. I think we might have had a good lawsuit, but we didn’t feel that was a good way to start a relationship, so we did not challenge what Gunther did.
IPPOLITO: What about Nin’s visits to Chicago, with Swallow Press picking up the tab?
WEISMAN: Her visit to Chicago was entirely financed by the Press, and it was a great success. The largest room at Northwestern couldn’t hold all the attendees so TV sets were installed in another room to allow the overflow to see and hear. All her interviews went wonderfully, and we even had a private reception for Nin at Durrett and Betty Jane Wagner’s home attended by all the literary lights in Chicago. We also supported Nin’s travels and lectures with all kinds of help like posters, press releases and books for her many travels.
IPPOLITO: I remember that Northwestern was kind of lukewarm after accepting, and then they kept calling me to say that they were moving the event to a larger and larger hall because there was so much interest. On the day of the lecture, the auditorium was so full people were sitting in the aisles and they even crowded onto the stage.
WEISMAN: It was only after we took over the press, and started promoting Nin’s fiction and work, that along with the Diaries she became such a national figure and a big draw. It was an interesting confluence of things that happened to make her the popular figure she became, and we at Swallow were a major player in all of that. Something all her biographers always miss.