Dominique Aury

Dominique Aury

French journalist and writer.
Date of Birth: 11.11.1968
Country: France

  1. Biography of Dominique Aury
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Unconventional Upbringing
  4. Journalism Career
  5. Writing Career and Controversy
  6. Revelation and Later Years

Biography of Dominique Aury

Early Life and Education

Dominique Aury, also known as Anne Cécile Desclos or Pauline Réage, was a French journalist and writer. She was born on September 23, 1907, in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France. Aury grew up in a bilingual family and learned to read in both English and French at a young age. She spent some time living in Britain with her paternal grandmother, while her father claimed noble lineage, it was later proven to be unfounded.

Dominique Aury

Unconventional Upbringing

Aury was raised by her mother, who had a strict and misanthropic personality. Her upbringing emphasized self-restraint and self-control. Aury developed an interest in human sexuality from a young age, and she was curious about both men and women, although she found male anatomy somewhat crude. At the age of 14, Aury began her first love affair, but her parents intercepted her correspondence and prohibited her from seeing her first love.

Dominique Aury

Journalism Career

After completing her studies at the Sorbonne, Aury became a journalist. In 1939, she joined the women's magazine "Tout et Tout" as a columnist. Her mentor at the magazine, Georges Adam, significantly improved her skills as a journalist. However, the magazine was banned after France's defeat in the war. Aury continued her career in journalism until 1946 when she became an editorial secretary at "Gallimard Publishers."

Writing Career and Controversy

During her time at "Gallimard Publishers," Aury adopted the pseudonym Dominique Aury. She translated and introduced the works of several renowned international authors, including Algernon Charles Swinburne, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Aury also served as a literary critic and was a member of several prestigious literary award juries.

Inspired by her lover and employer, Jean Paulhan, who believed women were incapable of writing erotic novels, Aury decided to prove him wrong. She wrote a daring and explicit sadomasochistic novel, which was published in June 1954 under the pseudonym Pauline Réage, titled "Histoire d'O" ("Story of O"). The book caused a significant stir and gained immense commercial success. Many readers were intrigued by the author's identity, and several well-known writers, including André Malraux and Henri de Montherlant, were suspected of being the true author.

The controversies surrounding the book continued, leading to government officials accusing the publisher and the unknown author of promoting explicit content. In 1959, the allegations were eventually dropped, but restrictions on the book, such as selling it to minors, remained in place. The ban on the book was lifted in 1967, and a sequel titled "Retour à Roissy" was published under the name Pauline Réage. Aury denied any involvement in the sequel's publication in her biography.

Revelation and Later Years

In 1975, Aury conducted a significant interview on erotic literature with writer Régine Deforges, which was published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert, the publisher of "Histoire d'O." At that time, the authorship of "Histoire d'O" remained a secret. In 1979, an English version of the interview was published by Viking Press. It wasn't until 1994, 40 years after the book's publication, that Aury publicly admitted to being the author of the scandalous erotic novel in an interview with "The New Yorker."

Aury had a long-lasting romantic relationship with Jean Paulhan, the director of the prestigious company "Nouvelle Revue Française," despite their significant age difference of 23 years. However, Paulhan was not Aury's only love interest, as she openly identified as bisexual. Her relationship with writer and historian Édith Thomas caused a great deal of controversy, and it is believed that Édith served as the inspiration for the character Anne-Marie in "Histoire d'O."

Aury was briefly married in her youth and had a son from the short-lived marriage. She passed away on April 27, 1998, in Corbeil-Essonnes, Île-de-France.