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Arthur Miller

Miller Bio

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Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and figure in twentieth-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge (1955, revised 1956). He also wrote several screenplays and was most noted for his work on The Misfits (1961). The drama Death of a Salesman has been numbered on the short list of finest American plays in the 20th century alongside Long Day's Journey into Night and A Streetcar Named Desire.[1]



Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and figure in twentieth-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge (1955, revised 1956). He also wrote several screenplays and was most noted for his work on The Misfits (1961). The drama Death of a Salesman has been numbered on the short list of finest American plays in the 20th century alongside Long Day's Journey into Night and A Streetcar Named Desire.[1]

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. During this time, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee;[2] and was married to Marilyn Monroe. In 1980, Miller received the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates.[3][4] He received the Prince of Asturias Award and the Praemium Imperiale prize in 2002 and the Jerusalem Prize in 2003,[5] as well as the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Lifetime Achievement Award.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in Harlem, in the New York City borough of Manhattan, the second of three children of Augusta (Barnett) and Isidore Miller. Miller was of Polish Jewish descent.[8][9][10] His father was born in Radomyśl WielkiGalicia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Poland), and his mother was a native of New York whose parents also arrived from that town.[11] Isidore owned a women's clothing manufacturing business employing 400 people. He became a wealthy and respected man in the community.[12] The family, including his younger sister Joan Copeland, lived on West[13] 110th Street in Manhattan, owned a summer house in Far Rockaway, Queens, and employed a chauffeur.[14] In the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the family lost almost everything and moved to Gravesend, Brooklyn.[15] As a teenager, Miller delivered bread every morning before school to help the family.[14] After graduating in 1932 from Abraham Lincoln High School, he worked at several menial jobs to pay for his college tuition.[15][16]

At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism and worked for the student paper, the Michigan Daily. It was during this time that he wrote his first play, No Villain.[17] Miller switched his major to English, and subsequently won the Avery Hopwood Award for No Villain. The award brought him his first recognition and led him to begin to consider that he could have a career as a playwright. Miller enrolled in a playwriting seminar taught by the influential Professor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting;[18] Rowe emphasized how a play is built in order to achieve its intended effect, or what Miller called "the dynamics of play construction".[19] Rowe provided realistic feedback along with much-needed encouragement, and became a lifelong friend.[20] Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life, establishing the university's Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in 2000.[21] In 1937, Miller wrote Honors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood Award.[17] After his graduation in 1938, he joined the Federal Theatre Project, a New Deal agency established to provide jobs in the theater. He chose the theater project despite the more lucrative offer to work as a scriptwriter for 20th Century Fox.[17] However, Congress, worried about possible Communist infiltration, closed the project in 1939.[15] Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while continuing to write radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS.[15][17]

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