Anna Kavan was born Helen Emily Woods in Cannes, France to wealthy British parents. She spent her childhood in Europe, the UK, and the USA. At age 17, she married Donald Ferguson, with whom she had a son, and accompanied him for his work to Burma, where she began writing. Her early works were published under her first married name, Helen Ferguson. She remarried in 1931 to Stuart Edmonds, an artist, and lived in England, Europe, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand before settling in London. She became a heroin addict and used amphetamines, spent two long periods in mental hospitals, and attempted suicide at least three times. In 1939, she moved to New York and legally changed her name to Anna Kavan, taken from a character in her novels Let Me Alone (1930) and A Stranger Still (1935). She became an acclaimed writer and painter and a successful interior decorator. During the early part of World War II, she worked for a military psychiatric unit, and after returning to England in 1943, she was an editorial assistant for Horizon, which published some of her short stories and book reviews. She also worked as an assistant to the magazine's editor, Cyril Connolly. In 1950, she established the architecture and design firm Kavan Properties, and during the 1960s, bought and renovated old houses in London. Anaïs Nin, in her poetic literary study The Novel of the Future (1968), praised Anna Kavan for her "nocturnal writing" alongside Djuna Barnes, John Hawkes, and others. The novel Ice (1967) is generally considered Kavan's masterpiece. Several volumes of her work were published posthumously. Anna Kavan's friend, writer Rhys Davies, based his novel The Honeysuckle Girl (1975) on her early life.