Arthur Miller, considered to be one of America's best playwrights of 20th century, was born on 17 October, 1915, in New York. For a young Miller, life was comfortable. His father owned a successful coat manufacturing company and his mother, Augusta, was an avid reader and perhaps inspired Miller to delve into the world of literature.
However, financial woes hit the family when America reeled under Depression. The Miller family lost most of their wealth and relocated from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Later on, Miller worked odd jobs to save enough money for college. He attended University of Michigan and studied under playwright and professor, Kenneth Rowe.
Miller's body of work explores the issue that plagued the American society in early 20th century. His most famous plays, "Death of a Salesman", "The Crucible" and "All my Sons" deconstruct the idea of the American Dream, class and race. Miler once famously said, "The job is to ask questions-it always was-and to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with certain humility."
Miller, who died in 2005 at the age of 89, would have turned 100 today. On his centennial, we give you a list of interesting facts about the playwright, the thinker and the activist who tried to change and question American politics as long as he lived.
- Miller majored in Journalism at the University of Michigan and worked as a journalist and an editor for his college's newspaper.
- Miller wrote his famous play, "Death of a Salesman", in one day in 1948. The playwright worked in small studio in Connecticut and later on won the Pulitzer prize, The New York Drama Critic's Circle AWard, and a Tony award.
- Miller was an atheist until his death.
- The playwright married thrice. Of them, his marriage to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe was in the public eye. The couple were married for five years and it was a marriage that was terrorised by insecurities, misgivings and unhappiness. According to TIME Magazine, Monroe found a notebook in which Miller wrote about his regret in having married her. Eventually, they divorced two years before Monroe's death.
- Miller has four kids, two (Jane and Robert) with his first wife Mary Slattery (1940-1956) and two (Rebecca and Daniel) with his third wife Inge Morath (1962-2002).
- His daughter Rebecca is married to actor Daniel Day Lewis.
- Miller, who was part Jewish wrote several plays about Jews during the Second World War. His plays, "The Incident at Vichy" and "Broken Glass", are based on Nazi Germany's attack on the Jews.
- Miller is buried with his third wife, Inge Morath in Roxbury Center Cemetery, Roxbury, Connecticut. Their graves have irregular granite upright marker and they both have flat granite foot markers.
- Miller's play, "The Crucible" is an allegory about senator McCarthy's communist witch hunt in the 50s.
- Miller steadfastly refused to be part of "The House of Un American Activities Committee". In 1956, he was convicted of contempt of court because he didn't reveal the names of Communist Party members before McCarthy's committee.