When I took a course in the psychology of women at Los Angeles City College, I wrote about the Anais Nin I knew. My professor Dr. Eve Jones told me, “If you know Anais you must know Ken Murril.” When I said I had not met Ken who was a student in another of her classes she introduced the two of us.
We both loved Anais. I had known her in New York and Ken knew her in California which explained why we had never met. I had recently moved from New York to California. Anais was very ill at this time. We all corresponded by mail. Anais and her caregivers would answer all our mail with her lovely purple cards and a personal loving note.
After Anais died Ken made arrangements for us to visit Anais’s west coast husband Rupert Pole. Rupert and Ken were very close and the first time Rupert and I met it was as though we had always known each other. Anais had had a tiny meditation hut in front of the beautiful home that Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson had designed for Anais and Rupert. He invited me to go inside. I found three beautiful white feathers inside and asked if I could have one. “Have them all” Rupert said. As I fell to my knees and gathered them up Rupert ran inside and returned handing me a copy of Anais’s Little Birds.
Rupert took us inside and gave us a tour of the house. We had tea and I told him how I had interviewed Anais and he showed me he had a copy of the interview. I told him I would like to write a biography of Anais for young adults. He thought that was a great idea and he gave me Gunther Stuhlmann, her agent’s address and said he would recommend me, but the agent had the last word.
I told Rupert that Anais had given me a copy of her fifth diary where she wrote, “To Maryanne who lives as many lives as I do.” A dear friend had borrowed the book and moved away without ever returning it. Rupert immediately went to the other room, returned with a copy of the fifth diary and wrote in it: “To Maryanne who lives as many lives as I do,” and signed it Anais Nin.
Before I left he handed me a copy of every book Anais had published, even the ones I already owned. He autographed each one with a little sentence of what the book meant to him or Anais.
Mother Teresa, Called to Love had been written as a biography for young adults. I sent a copy of the manuscript to Gunther as an example of my work and he gave me permission to write about Anais after Rupert put in a good word for me.
Ken and I spent lots of time together. Ken was an excellent writer but he was insecure about his writing. He told me how he had introduced Anais to the West Coast when she read at his Yellow Rose Gallery so I talked him into writing about it and I published his first essay in my newsletter Writers World. He went on to write about the Yellow Rose Gallery for other publications.
I worked constantly on my biography of Anais and whenever I finished a few chapters Ken would arrange for us to go to Rupert’s where we would have tea and I would read the manuscript and Rupert would give me feedback.
I was living in Los Angeles with a very close friend Tom Nakano and Ken would visit often. When Tom learned he had a fatal disease he wanted to be alone so Ken in visited me to move into his place with him and some friends.
I was very depressed because my friend was so ill, but Ken consoled me and kept me writing, moving and laughing even though he himself was ill. A few months after I moved out of Ken’s apartment, he was murdered on his way home.
“No matter what I’m doing right now, I would rather be writing.”