Anna Kavan

Anna Kavan (1901–1968) was born Helen Woods to wealthy British parents in Cannes. The family moved often between Europe and the United States and, when she was ten, Kavan was sent to boarding school in the United Kingdom. The following year her father committed suicide. In 1920, Kavan married a railway engineer and the two moved to Burma, where their son, Bryan, was born. The couple separated in 1925, and she returned to London to attend art school and began using heroin. In 1928 she married the artist Stuart Edmonds, and the next year published her first novel, A Charmed Circle. While married to Edmonds, she published six books as Helen Ferguson, and in 1935 they had a daughter, Margaret, who died shortly after birth. They soon adopted a daughter, Susanna. In 1938, as the marriage deteriorated, Kavan attempted suicide and was admitted to a psychiatric clinic in Switzerland. Adopting the name Anna Kavan (after a character who had appeared in two of her earlier books), she would write about this experience in the short-story collection Asylum Piece (1940), which was met with acclaim. She would go on to write criticism, journalism, dozens of stories, and several novels as Kavan, including her most successful book, the novel Ice (1967), which was published the year before she died of heart failure.