Anna Kavan was born "Helen Woods" in France on April 10, 1901 to wealthy expatriate British parents. Her initial six works were published under the name of Helen Ferguson, her first married name. These early novels gave little indication of the experimental and disturbing nature of her later work. I Am Lazarus (1945), a collection of short stories which explored the inner mindscape of the psychological explorer, heralded the new style and content of Kavan's writing. The change in her writing style and physical appearance coincided with a mental breakdown. During this time, Helen also renamed herself Anna Kavan after a character in her own novel Let Me Alone.Around 1926 Anna became addicted to heroin. Her addiction has been described as an attempt to self-medicate rather than recreational. Kavan made no apologies for her heroin usage. She is popularly supposed to have died of a heroin overdose. In fact she died of heart failure, though she had attempted suicide several times during her life.