Arthur Miller



Arthur Miller’s eloquence, insight into human frailty and his powerful commitment to human justice have been felt on stage and screen for over five decades. Death of a Salesman, All My Sons and The Crucible are three of the great plays in postwar American drama, exposing the hysteria and hypocrisy of the McCarthy era. The Misfits was written in 1957 for Marilyn Monroe, whom Miller would marry; the emotional pressures of their marriage would be examined in Miller’s 1964 play After the Fall. The fate of the individual in society, freedom of speech and thought, and issues of contemporary morality have been consistent themes throughout Miller’s career. In his own words: ‘Art has always been the revenge of the human spirit upon the shortsighted'.

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Arthur Miller has enriched the stage for over five decades with his eloquence, his profound insight into human frailty, and his powerful commitment to justice. The first of his plays to be a commercial success was All My Sons in 1947, but with Death of a Salesman in 1949 Miller reached a universal audience and set a standard that marked him as a playwright for his time and for all time.


In the United States of the 1940s and 50s, conformity was becoming the political requirement of the day and citizens could be punished by congressional committees for their thoughts and opinions. Many of Miller’s friends were attacked for their pro-Communist beliefs. The Crucible, 1953, reflects Miller’s take on McCarthy period hysteria. In 1956 Miller was subpoenaed by the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee, and interrogated about his writings and associations. He refused to implicate others and was sentenced for contempt of Congress. The sentence was later reversed by the US Court of Appeals in a victory that was a triumph for constitutional democracy.


Miller wrote The Misfits in 1957 for Marilyn Monroe. The character of Maggie in his 1964 After the Fall reflects the emotional troubles Marilyn faced during their marriage. Like The Crucible, this play also examines the individual facing social hysteria and hypocrisy. The fate of the individual in society, the tragedy of the common man who loses his integrity due to social and economic pressures, the moral and political issues of our time, including the right to speak and think freely – these are the themes that have occupied Miller throughout his career. Arthur Miller continues to be a major force in world theater. He says that the 1970s and 80s were a time that only musicals could survive the premium Broadway put on light entertainment. But his career had a resurgence in the 1990s with the production of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (opened in London in 1991 and in revised form in the US in 1997, and to be filmed soon), The Last Yankee, 1993, Broken Glass, 1994, and Mr. Peter's Connections, 1998. A revival of The Crucible will open on Broadway in February, 2002, and a week later a revival of The Man Who Had All The Luck will open.


In addition to writing plays with strong social commentary, Miller has been active in PEN, an international literary organization that provides artists and writers a forum for expressing their views and fighting governmental repression worldwide. He has also published several volumes of short stories, a long autobiography, and several other nonfiction works, including a book about his experiences directing a production of Death of a Salesman in Beijing. In an essay ‘On Politics and the Art of Acting’ for Harpers, he writes ‘Art has always been the revenge of the human spirit upon the shortsighted … Artists are not particularly famous for their steady habits, the acceptability of their opinions, or their conformity with societal mores, but whatever is not turned into art disappears forever.’ He has just completed a new play called Resurrection Blues that he says is a serious comedy about people having and losing faith in life. His novel Focus opens in October, 2001, as a film


He passed away on February 10, 2005, Connecticut.


  1915  Born in New York City
  1920-28 Attends Public School #24 in Harlem
  1923 Sees first play - a melodrama at the Schubert Theater
  1929 Father's business fails and family moves to Brooklyn
  1932 Various jobs, including singing on a local radio station and truck driving
  1934-35 University of Michigan, studying journalism
  1937 Joins the Federal Theater Project in New York City to write radio plays and scripts
  1947  All My Sons premiers and receives the New York Drama Critics- Circle Award
  1949 Death of a Salesman premiers and receives the Pulitzer Prize, among others
  1953 The Crucible premiers and receives the Antoinette Perry Award, and the Donaldson Award.
  1956 Subpoenaed to appear before HUAC (convicted in 1957 of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names; US Court of Appeals overturns the contempt conviction in 1958)
  1957 Collected Plays published; second volume in 1981
  1961 Divorces Marilyn Monroe; premier of the film Misfits, written for her
  1985 Death of a Salesman with Dustin Hoffman airs on CBS to an audience of 25 million
  1993  Broken Glass
  1998 Revised version of The Ride Down Mount Morgan appears on Broadway
  2001 Awarded the Praemium Imperiale Prize for Theatre/film, Japan Art Association, Tokyo
  2005 Died February 10, Connecticut