Arthur Miller

Missing image
Arthur Miller in his later years

Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915February 10, 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and author. He was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 60 years, writing a wide variety of plays. Miller's best known works were The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, which are still widely studied and performed. He was also known for his short-lived marriage to Marilyn Monroe.



Miller was born to a moderately wealthy Polish-Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn. His, father, Isadore, was an illiterate but successful women's clothing manufacturer; his mother, Augusta, was a housewife and schoolteacher. He had two older siblings: Kermit, and Joan, who became an actress and appeared in her brother's works. Miller remembered he and his siblings being driven to school by a chauffer. When Isadore was ruined in the Great Depression, the family was forced to move to Harlem. Eventually, Isadore rebounded as a hat manufacturer.

Miller attended P.S. 24 in Harlem from 1920 to 1928, and saw his first play (a melodrama) in 1923 at the Schubert Theatre. At Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, Miller was a talented athlete and mediocre student. He was rejected by both the University of Michigan and Cornell University. After graduating, he read works of Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky and worked at an auto parts warehouse. There Miller experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism, which would influence his later works (especially A Memory of Two Mondays). Miller put $13 of every $15 paycheck he earned into a college fund and reapplied to University of Michigan, where he was accepted in 1934.

At Michigan, Miller studied journalism and drama, becoming paticluarly interested in ancient Greek drama and the dramas of Henrik Ibsen. During spring break in 1936 (his sophomore year), he wrote his first work, Honors at Dawn (reportedly because of a contest offering a $250 prize, which he won). The play centered around a strike and the main character's inability to express himself, and won an Avery Hopwood Award, the first of two he received. Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life, establishing the Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in the forthcoming Walgreen Drama Center. The University also honored its distinguished alumnus with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1956 and several tributes and symposia on his frequent returns to Ann Arbor.

In 1938, Miller received his bachelor's degree in English. In 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery (with whom he had two children, Jane and Robert). He was exempted from military service during World War II because of a football injury.

Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards, as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It was the first play ever to win all three. His next play, The Crucible, opened on Broadway on January 22, 1953. In 1956, he divorced his wife. In June of the same year, he appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee, having been named by Elia Kazan as having attended Communist Party meetings, and at the end of the month on June 29, he married Marilyn Monroe, whom he had met eight years earlier through Kazan. Monroe converted to Judaism for the marriage.

On May 31st, 1957, Miller was found guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to reveal the names of members of a literary circle suspected of Communist affiliation. His conviction was reversed August 8, 1958, by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The same year, he published Collected Plays.

On January 24, 1961, Monroe was granted a Mexican divorce two months after Miller left her for Inge Morath, whom he married on February 17, 1962. They had met when she and other photographers from the Magnum Photos agency documented the making of The Misfits. They had two children, Rebecca, born that September, and Daniel. According to biographer Martin Gottfried, Daniel was born with Down Syndrome. Miller placed Daniel in an institution in Roxbury, Connecticut, and never visited him. Miller doesn't mention Daniel in Timebends, his 1987 autobiography, and the issue was ignored in the New York Times obituary[1] ( of February 11, 2005 (though it was reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere). Rebecca Miller is a screenwriter, actor and director.

Miller was one of the original founders of International PEN's Writers in Prison committee, and in 1965 was elected the organization's president, a position he held for four years [2] (, [3] (;_ylu=X3oDMTBvdmM3bGlxBHBndANhdl93ZWJfcmVzdWx0BHNlYwNzcg--/SIG=124m2bp4t/**http%3a//

In 1985, Miller visited Turkey and was honored at the American embassy. After his traveling companion Harold Pinter was thrown out of the country for discussing torture, Miller left in support.

On January 30, 2002, Inge Morath died. On May 1 the same year, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature as "the undisputed master of modern drama". Previous winners include Doris Lessing, Gnter Grass and Carlos Fuentes.

In December 2004, the 89 year old Miller announced that he had been living with 34 year old artist Agnes Barley since 2002, and they were planning to marry. Within hours of his death, Barley had moved out of his house on orders of Miller's daughter Rebecca, who disapproved of the relationship.

See also Hollywood Ten.




Other works

  • (1944)Situation Normal
  • (1945) Focus
  • Fame
  • The Reason Why
  • Homely Girl, a Life: And Other Stories
  • The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller
  • Timebends: A Life

External links


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