Classics of Erotic Fiction (#8)


Iris Owens [Harriet Daimler], who, aged 20, arrived in Paris from America in the early 1950s full of grand literary ambitions. It wasn’t long, though, before hunger had set in and she found herself answering Girodias’s call. No guidelines were given to aspirant authors, beyond a general warning to steer clear of necrophilia. As for the rest, it was up to them.

“I’d never read a dirty book in my life,” Owens recalls. “Let alone thought of writing one. But I remember feeling very challenged by the idea. I considered myself a writer and I thought, well, why not give it a try?”

John Preston, The Telegraph


…Owens’s vision of sex is darker, more complex—certainly more challenging and uneasy.

Some claim that Owens and Girodias had an affair. Some also claim that he never got over her. But he never encouraged her to publish under her own name. Shortly before he died in 1990, Girodias told an interviewer from Smoke Signals magazine that Iris Owens was his “biggest mistake”:

“I could have made her into a big-big star. She could have been something, if I had only, you know, taken the time. … It was really Iris I loved.”

Lisa Zeidner, The American Scholar




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