Thinking of Anais Nin: Sharon Spencer

Sharon Spencer

Memento Mori

Sharon Spencer died in April, 2002. A memorial was held in Montclair, New Jersey at Montclair University on May 5, 2002. Our deepest sympathies to all who admired and loved, friends, family and colleagues especially those present at the moving celebration of her life.

August 8 is Sharon Spencer’s birthday
August 8 we celebrate and remember Sharon Spencer, the best known critic on Anaïs Nin, who passed away in spring ’02. Excerpt from KDazuko Sugisaki’s “Sharon, A Shaman” in SHARON SPENCER: A MEMORIAL ISSUE (Lioness Press ’02). “Sharon did not die. Sharon is not dead. Sharon simply decided to live…over there, in another part of the garden…where a half moon floats sustaining the balance of day and night….knowing anytime, she can cross again that red curved bridge. “…I can see her now, standing under the thick purple mist of jacaranda…laughing.”

SHARON SPENCER, a memorial issue
Lioness Press ’02) A few copies still available along with Sharon’s last published novel which she viewed titled VOICES FROM THE EARTH (Rose Shell Press ’02) See for ordering info or contact Rochelle directly from the site.

Memory of Sharon Spencer by former student Susan Cox.


Sharon Spencer
Professor, English and
Comparative Literature
Montclair State Univ.


B.A. (Degree Honors in English)
New York University
PEN American Center
Authors’ League of
America (by invitation)
M.A. American Literature
New York University(1962)
Modern Language Assoc.
Ph.D. Comparative Literature
New York University
(Oral Examination passed
“with Distinction”)
Phi Kappa Phi
Honor Society

My appointment at M.S.C. was in 1971. In 1976 I became a Professor, the first woman to attain this rank in the English Department since 1908 when a woman became the Principal of the Normal School and was promoted accordingly.

Danforth Teacher Grant for Ph,D, Study

Tuition Scholarships (both undergraduate and graduate) New York University

Alumni Grant Summer Stipend (1982) for translating Egyptian author Andree Chedid’s novel Le Sommeil delivre from French to From Sleep Unbound (The Swallow Press, 1983).

Two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Creative Writing (1981–1982 and 1985–1986).

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, major Topics in Asian Civilizations,” Columbia University (1986).

In the 1980s three of my short stories were awarded prizes. The most distinguished was a PEN/National Endowment for the Arts Syndicated Fiction Prize (1983).



Space, Time and Structure in the Modern Novel, New York University Press, 1971; paperback, The Swallow Press, 1974,

The Space Between, a novel, Harper and Row, 1973; British Isles publication, Hamish-Hamilton, Inc., 1974.

Collage of Dreams: The Writings of Anaïs Nin, The Swallow Press, 1977; paperback, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (a Harvest Book), 1981.

Ellis Island Then and Now, short story collection with black and white photographs by Dennis Toner, Lincoln Springs Press, Franklin Lakes, N. ill 1988, (Supported by a Summer Stipend awarded in 1987 by the SBR Committee.)

From Sleep Unbound, a translation from the French (Le Sommeil delivre), Andree Chedid, The Swallow Press/Ohio University Press at Athens, Ohio, 1983.

Anais- Art and Artists, edited by myself, a collection of essays, The Penkevill Press, Greenwood, Florida, 1985.

Wire Rims, a novel, Heinemann Educational Books (Nigeria) in association with Africana Legacy Press, 1995.

Dance of the Ariadnes, a novel, Sky Blue Press, Huntington, Michigan, 1998.

Short Stories:

I have published forty short stories, The following magazines are representative of those in which my stories have appeared: Ovez Review (Roosevelt University, Chicago); The Croton Review; The Mississippi Review; Paintbrush: Calyx; Nightsun; Crosscurrents; Welter (University of Baltimore, Md.); Plainswoman; Sibyl-Child, and Woman Spirit.

Stories that Have Won Awards:

“The Nothing That Never Ends.” selected as Second Annual fiction Award winner, Crosscurrents (1982).

“Jelena’s Story’ First Honorable Mention, Reed Smith Fiction Competition, Amelia (1985).

‘Towers of Skulls,” selected as a winner by the PEN syndicated

Fiction Project (1983), published in Crosscurrents, A Quarterly (Summer, 1986),

“Towers of Skulls And Other Stories” was a runner-up in Amelia’s competition for a story collection to publish (1988), Although the individual stories have been published, the collection has not.

Another story collection “Paris, Merida” was supported by a Career Development Award,


I have published more than sixty essays and review-essays on modern fiction, relationships among the arts and literature, and psychological issues and fiction, Representative journals are: Contemporary Literature; The Harvard Advocate; Book Forum; Studies in the Twentieth-Century; Women’s Studies; The American Book Review; Symposium; L’Esiorit Createur; American Writing Today Forum Series (published by the Voice of America); The Psychoanalytic Review; Journal of the Otto Rank Association; The Review of Contemporary Fiction; The Latin American Review; Twentieth Century Literature.

Among the authors I have studied and written about are Djuna Barnes, Jorge Luis Borges, Colette, Julio Cortazar, Alfred Doeblin, Ariel Dorfman, John Dos Passos, Marguerite Duras, Lawrence Durrell, Andre Gide, John Hawkes, Hermann Hesse, Doris Lessing, Thomas Mann, Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, Marguerite Young, Recently my professional curricular interests have shifted from Europe to Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. I regularly study, teach and write about a wide variety of international authors.

However, my specialization is the writings of the French-born Cuban writer (eventually, U. S. citizen) Anaïs Nin; I have authored a critical study of her writings, Collage of Dreams, edited a “celebration” of the author and her creations, Anais: Art and Artist, and have published many articles about the nature and significance of Nin’s writings. I wrote The Sunday New York Times Book Review of The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume Four, 1927-1931; my essay “The Music of the Womb: Anaïs Nin’s Feminine Writing” was published in Breaking the Sequence: Women’s Experimental Fiction, Princeton University Press (paperback edition, 1992). Reviewing Collage of Dreams, J. S. Atherton, editor of The London Times Literary Supplement, wrote: “[it] immediately takes first place in the list of critical works about Anaïs Nin.” The current revival of interest in Nin’s writings has led to my being recently invited to contribute four articles to various collections of critical essays and memoirs, as well as a long review-essay of books about Nin; this will be published in 1998 on the Nin Website originating in Chicago.

France, Germany, England, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Morocco, British Virgin Islands. I have lived for periods of six months in Italy and Mexico and for a year and a half in former Yugoslavia (both in Croatia and in Serbia). My travel experience includes twenty-five trips to Mexico. I read French, Italian and Spanish and am presently acquiring fluency in Spanish.