Henry Miller Essays

For other people named Henry Miller, see Henry Miller (disambiguation).

Henry Miller

Miller in 1940

BornHenry Valentine Miller
(1891-12-26)December 26, 1891
Yorkville, Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 7, 1980(1980-06-07) (aged 88)
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenreRoman à clef, philosophical fiction
Notable worksTropic of Cancer
Black Spring
Tropic of Capricorn
The Colossus of Maroussi
The Rosy Crucifixion
SpouseBeatrice Sylvas Wickens (1917–24)
June Miller (1924–34)
Janina Martha Lepska (1944–52)
Eve McClure (1953–60)
Hiroko Tokuda (1967–77)


Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American writer, expatriated in Paris at his flourishing. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit language, sex, surrealistfree association, and mysticism.[1][2] His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn and The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris (all of which were banned in the United States until 1961).[3] He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.[4]

Early life[edit]

Miller was born at his family's home, 450 East 85th Street, in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, New York City. He was the son of Lutheran German parents, Louise Marie (Neiting) and tailor Heinrich Miller.[5] As a child, he lived for nine years at 662 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,[6] known at that time (and referred to frequently in his works) as the Fourteenth Ward. In 1900, his family moved to 1063 Decatur Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.[7] After finishing elementary school, although his family remained in Bushwick, Miller attended Eastern District High School in Williamsburg.[8] As a young man, he was active with the Socialist Party of America (his "quondam idol" was the black Socialist Hubert Harrison).[9] He attended the City College of New York for one semester.[10]


Brooklyn, 1917–30[edit]

Miller married his first wife, Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, in 1917;[11] their divorce was granted on December 21, 1923.[12] Together they had a daughter, Barbara, born in 1919.[13] They lived in an apartment at 244 6th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.[14] At the time, Miller was working at Western Union; he worked there from 1920-24. In March 1922, during a three-week vacation, he wrote his first novel, Clipped Wings. It has never been published, and only fragments remain, although parts of it were recycled in other works, such as Tropic of Capricorn.[15] A study of twelve Western Union messengers, Miller called Clipped Wings "a long book and probably a very bad one."[16]

In 1923, while he was still married to Beatrice, Miller met and became enamored of a mysterious dance hall dancer who was born Juliet Edith Smerth but went by the stage name June Mansfield. She was 21 at the time.[17] They began an affair, and were married on June 1, 1924.[18] In 1924 Miller quit Western Union in order to dedicate himself completely to writing.[19] Miller later describes this time – his struggles to become a writer, his sexual escapades, failures, friends, and philosophy – in his autobiographical trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion.

Miller's second novel, Moloch: or, This Gentile World, was written in 1927–28, initially under the guise of a novel written by June.[20] A rich older admirer of June, Roland Freedman, paid her to write the novel; she would show him pages of Miller's work each week, pretending it was hers.[21] The book went unpublished until 1992, 65 years after it was written and 12 years after Miller’s death.[20]Moloch is based on Miller’s first marriage, to Beatrice, and his years working as a personnel manager at the Western Union office in Lower Manhattan.[22] A third novel written around this time, Crazy Cock, also went unpublished until after Miller's death. Initially titled Lovely Lesbians, Crazy Cock (along with his later novel Nexus) told the story of June's close relationship with the artist Marion, whom June had renamed Jean Kronski. Kronski lived with Miller and June from 1926 until 1927, when June and Kronski went to Paris together, leaving Miller behind, which upset him greatly. Miller suspected the pair of having a lesbian relationship. While in Paris, June and Kronski did not get along, and June returned to Miller several months later.[23] Kronski committed suicide around 1930.[24]

Paris, 1930–39[edit]

In 1928, Miller spent several months in Paris with June, a trip which was financed by Freedman.[22] One day on a Paris street, Miller met another author, Robert W. Service, who recalled the story in his autobiography: "Soon we got into conversation which turned to books. For a stripling he spoke with some authority, turning into ridicule the pretentious scribes of the Latin Quarter and their freak magazine."[25] In 1930, Miller moved to Paris unaccompanied.[26] Soon after, he began work on Tropic of Cancer, writing to a friend, "I start tomorrow on the Paris book: First person, uncensored, formless - fuck everything!"[27] Although Miller had little or no money the first year in Paris, things began to change after meeting Anaïs Nin who, with Hugh Guiler, went on to pay his entire way through the 1930s including the rent for an apartment at 18 Villa Seurat. Nin became his lover and financed the first printing of Tropic of Cancer in 1934 with money from Otto Rank.[28] She would write extensively in her journals about her relationship with Miller and his wife June; the first volume, covering the years 1931-34, was published in 1966.[26] Late in 1934, June divorced Miller by proxy in Mexico City.[29]

In 1931, Miller was employed by the Chicago Tribune Paris edition as a proofreader, thanks to his friend Alfred Perlès who worked there. Miller took this opportunity to submit some of his own articles under Perlès' name, since at that time only the editorial staff were permitted to publish in the paper. This period in Paris was highly creative for Miller, and during this time he also established a significant and influential network of authors circulating around the Villa Seurat.[30] At that time a young British author, Lawrence Durrell, became a lifelong friend. Miller's correspondence with Durrell was later published in two books.[31][32] During his Paris period he was also influenced by the French Surrealists.

His works contain detailed accounts of sexual experiences. His first published book, Tropic of Cancer (1934), was published by Obelisk Press in Paris and banned in the United States on the grounds of obscenity.[33] The dust jacket came wrapped with a warning: "Not to be imported into the United States or Great Britain."[34] He continued to write novels that were banned; along with Tropic of Cancer, his Black Spring (1936) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939) were smuggled into his native country, building Miller an underground reputation. While the aforementioned novels remained banned in the US for over two decades, in 1939, New Directions published The Cosmological Eye, Miller's first book to be published in America. The collection contained short prose pieces, most of which originally appeared in Black Spring and Max and the White Phagocytes (1938).[35]

Miller lived in France until June 1939.[36]

Greece, 1939–40[edit]

In 1939 Durrell, who lived in Corfu, invited Miller to Greece. Miller described the visit in The Colossus of Maroussi (1941), which he considered his best book.[19] One of the first acknowledgments of Henry Miller as a major modern writer was by George Orwell in his 1940 essay "Inside the Whale", where he wrote:

Here in my opinion is the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past. Even if that is objected to as an overstatement, it will probably be admitted that Miller is a writer out of the ordinary, worth more than a single glance; and after all, he is a completely negative, unconstructive, amoral writer, a mere Jonah, a passive acceptor of evil, a sort of Whitman among the corpses.[37]

California, 1942–80[edit]

In 1940, Miller returned to New York; after a year-long trip around the United States, a journey that would become material for The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, he moved to California in June 1942, initially residing just outside Hollywood in Beverly Glen, before settling in Big Sur in 1944.[36] While Miller was establishing his base in Big Sur, the Tropic books, then still banned in the USA,[38] were being published in France by the Obelisk Press and later the Olympia Press. There they were acquiring a slow and steady notoriety among both Europeans and the various enclaves of American cultural exiles. As a result, the books were frequently smuggled into the States, where they proved to be a major influence on the new Beat Generation of American writers, most notably Jack Kerouac, the only Beat writer Miller truly cared for.[39] By the time his banned books were published in the 1960s and he was becoming increasingly well-known, Miller was no longer interested in his image as an outlaw writer of smut-filled books; however, he eventually gave up fighting the image.[40]

In 1942, shortly before moving to California, Miller began writing Sexus, the first novel in The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, a fictionalized account documenting the six-year period of his life in Brooklyn falling in love with June and struggling to become a writer.[41] Like several of his other works, the trilogy, completed in 1959, was initially banned in the United States, published only in France and Japan.[42] In other works written during his time in California, Miller was widely critical of consumerism in America, as reflected in Sunday After The War (1944) and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945). His Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, published in 1957, is a collection of stories about his life and friends in Big Sur.[43]

In 1944, Miller met and married his third wife, Janina Martha Lepska, a philosophy student who was 30 years his junior.[26] They had two children: a son, Tony, and a daughter, Valentine.[44] They divorced in 1952. The following year, he married artist Eve McClure, who was 37 years his junior. They divorced in 1960,[26] and she died in 1966, likely as a result of alcoholism.[45] In 1961, Miller arranged a reunion in New York with his ex-wife and main subject of The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, June. They hadn't seen each other in nearly three decades. In a letter to Eve, he described his shock at June's "terrible" appearance, as she had by then degenerated both physically and mentally.[46]

In 1959, Miller wrote a short story which he called his “most singular story.” It is truly a work of fiction entitled "The Smile At the Foot of the Ladder".

In February 1963, Miller moved to 444 Ocampo Drive, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, where he would spend the last 17 years of his life.[47] In 1967, Miller married his fifth wife, Hoki Tokuda (ja:ホキ徳田).[48][49] In 1968, Miller signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[50] After his move to Ocampo Drive, he held dinner parties for the artistic and literary figures of the time. His cook and caretaker was a young artist's model named Twinka Thiebaud who later wrote a book about his evening chats.[51] Thiebaud's memories of Miller's table talk were published in a rewritten and retitled book in 2011.[52]

Only 200 copies of Miller's 1972 chapbookOn Turning Eighty were published. Published by Capra Press, in collaboration with Yes! Press, it was the first volume of the "Yes! Capra" chapbook series and is 34 pages in length.[53] The book contains three essays on topics such as aging and living a meaningful life. In relation to reaching 80 years of age, Miller explains:

If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power.[54]

Late in life, Miller filmed with Warren Beatty for the 1981 film Reds, which was also directed by Beatty. He spoke of his remembrances of John Reed and Louise Bryant as part of a series of "witnesses." The film was released eighteen months after Miller's death.[55] During the last four years of his life, Miller held an ongoing correspondence of over 1,500 letters with Brenda Venus, a young Playboy playmate, actress and dancer. A book about their correspondence was published in 1986.[56]


Miller died of circulatory complications at his home in Pacific Palisades on June 7, 1980, at the age of 88.[57] His body was cremated and his ashes shared between his son Tony and daughter Val. Tony has stated that he ultimately intends to have his ashes mixed with those of his father and scattered in Big Sur.[58]

US publication of previously banned works[edit]

The publication of Miller's Tropic of Cancer in the United States in 1961 by Grove Press led to a series of obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Grove Press, Inc., v. Gerstein, citing Jacobellis v. Ohio (which was decided the same day in 1964), overruled the state court findings of obscenity and declared the book a work of literature; it was one of the notable events in what has come to be known as the sexual revolution. Elmer Gertz, the lawyer who successfully argued the initial case for the novel's publication in Illinois, became a lifelong friend of Miller's; a volume of their correspondence has been published.[59] Following the trial, in 1964–65, other books of Miller's which had also been banned in the US were published by Grove Press: Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, Quiet Days in Clichy, Sexus, Plexus and Nexus.[60] Excerpts from some of these banned books, including Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring and Sexus, were first published in the US by New Directions in The Henry Miller Reader in 1959.[61][62]


In addition to his literary abilities, Miller produced numerous watercolor paintings and wrote books on this field. He was a close friend of the French painter Grégoire Michonze. It is estimated that Miller painted 2,000 watercolors during his life, and that 50 or more major collections of Miller’s paintings exist.[63] The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin holds a selection of Miller's watercolors,[64] as did the Henry Miller Museum of Art in Ōmachi City in Nagano, Japan, before closing in 2001.[65] Miller's daughter Valentine placed some of her father's art for sale in 2005.[66] He was also an amateur pianist.[67]

Literary archives[edit]

Miller's papers can be found in the following library special collections:

  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which has correspondence and other archival collections.[68]
  • Syracuse University, which holds a portion of the correspondence between the Grove Press and Henry Miller.[69]
  • Charles E. Young Research Library of the University of California, Los Angeles Library.[70]
  • Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which has materials about Miller from his first wife and their daughter.[71]
  • University of Victoria, which holds a significant collection of Miller's manuscripts and correspondence, including the corrected typescripts for Max and Quiet Days in Clichy, as well as Miller's lengthy correspondence with Alfred Perlès.[72]
  • University of Virginia.[73]
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library.[74]
  • University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.[75]

Miller's friend Emil White founded the nonprofit Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur in 1981.[76] This houses a collection of his works and celebrates his literary, artistic and cultural legacy by providing a public gallery as well as performance and workshop spaces for artists, musicians, students, and writers.[76]

Literary references[edit]

Miller is considered a "literary innovator" in whose works "actual and imagined experiences became indistinguishable from each other."[77] His books did much to free the discussion of sexual subjects in American writing from both legal and social restrictions. He influenced many writers, including Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Theroux and Erica Jong.[34]

Throughout his novels he makes references to literature; he cites Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Balzac and Nietzsche as having a formative impact on him.[78]

Tropic of Cancer is referenced in Junot Díaz's 2007 book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as being read by Ana Obregón. Miller's legal difficulties, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn are mentioned in Denis Johnson's 2007 novel Tree of Smoke, in a conversation between Skip Sands and his uncle, Colonel Sands. Miller is mentioned again later in the novel.[79]


Main article: Henry Miller bibliography


Miller as himself[edit]

Miller appeared as himself in several films:[80]

  • He was the subject of four documentary films by Robert Snyder; The Henry Miller Odyssey (90 minutes), Henry Miller: Reflections On Writing (47 minutes), and Henry Miller Reads and Muses (60 minutes). In addition, there is a film by Snyder that was completed after Snyder's death in 2004 about Miller's watercolor paintings, Henry Miller: To Paint Is To Love Again (60 minutes). All four films are in Miller's own words.
  • He was a "witness" (interviewee) in Warren Beatty's 1981 film Reds.[81]
  • He was featured in the 1996 documentary Henry Miller Is Not Dead that featured music by Laurie Anderson.[82]

Actors portraying Miller[edit]

Several actors played Miller on film, such as:


  1. ^Shifreen, Lawrence J. (1979). Henry Miller: a Bibliography of Secondary Sources. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 75–77.  
  2. ^Mary V. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p 12.
  3. ^"Henry Miller's novels censored and banned in US due to their sexually explicitly content," FileRoom.org, 2001.
  4. ^"Gallery," henrymiller.info. Accessed August 31, 2013.
  5. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 20–22.
  6. ^Jake Mooney, "'Ideal Street' Seeks Eternal Life,"The New York Times, May 1, 2009.
  7. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 36.
  8. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 38.
  9. ^Introduction from A Hubert Harrison Reader, University Press of New England
  10. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 42.
  11. ^Frederick Turner, Renegade: Henry Miller and the Making of Tropic of Cancer, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 88, 104.
  12. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 85.
  13. ^Robert Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991, p. 60.
  14. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 59.
  15. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 70–73.
  16. ^Henry Miller (ed. Antony Fine), Henry Miller: Stories, Essays, Travel Sketches, New York: MJF Books, 1992, p. 5.
  17. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 78-80.
  18. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 87.
  19. ^ abWickes, George (Summer–Fall 1962). "Henry Miller, The Art of Fiction No. 28". The Paris Review. 
  20. ^ ab“Moloch, Or, This Gentile World,”Publishers Weekly, September 28, 1992.
  21. ^Mary V. Dearborn, “Introduction,” Moloch: or, This Gentile World, New York: Grove Press, 1992, pp. vii–xv.
  22. ^ abFerguson, Henry Miller: A Life, pp. 156–58.
  23. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 102-17.
  24. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 119.
  25. ^http://robertwservice.blogspot.com/2015/05/henry-miller-1891-1980.html
  26. ^ abcdAnderson, Christiann (March 2004). "Henry Miller: Born to be Wild". BonjourParis. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  27. ^Alexander Nazaryan, "Henry Miller, Brooklyn Hater,"The New Yorker, May 10, 2013.
  28. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 171.
  29. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 174.
  30. ^Gifford, James. Ed. The Henry Miller-Herbert Read Letters: 1935–58. Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson Inc., 2007.
  31. ^Wickes, George, ed. (1963). Lawrence Durrell & Henry Miller: A Private Correspondence. New York: Dutton. OCLC 188175. 
  32. ^MacNiven, Ian S, ed. (1988). The Durrell-Miller Letters 1935–80. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-15036-5. 
  33. ^Baron, Dennis (October 1, 2009). "Celebrate Banned Books Week: Read Now, Before It's Too Late". Web of Language. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  34. ^ abArthur Hoyle, "Remember Henry Miller? Censored Then, Forgotten Now,"Huffington Post, May 14, 2014.
  35. ^Arthur Hoyle, The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2014, pp. 23, 38-39.
  36. ^ abHenry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, New York: New Directions, 1957, pp. 1–2.
  37. ^Orwell, George "Inside the Whale"Archived 2005-08-02 at the Wayback Machine., London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1940.
  38. ^For details re the ban in the United States, see e.g., Tropic of Cancer (novel)#Legal issues.
  39. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 286-87.
  40. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 279.
  41. ^Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 295.
  42. ^Frank Getlein, "Henry Miller's Crowded Simple Life,"Milwaukee Journal, June 9, 1957.
  43. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 263-64.
  44. ^Barbara Kraft, "Hanging in LA with Anaïs Nin (and Henry Miller),"LA Observed, January 24, 2012.
  45. ^Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 356.
  46. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 280.
  47. ^Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 351.
  48. ^Carolyn Kellogg, "Henry Miller's last wife, Hoki Tokuda, remembers him, um, fondly?", Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2011.
  49. ^John M. Glionna, "A story only Henry Miller could love", Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2011.
  50. ^“Writers and Editors War Tax Protest,” New York Post, January 30, 1968.
  51. ^Thiebaud, Twinka. Reflections: Henry Miller. Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1981. ISBN 0-88496-166-4
  52. ^Thiebaud, Twinka. What Doncha Know? about Henry Miller. Belvedere, CA: Eio Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9759255-2-2
  53. ^Henry Miller (1972). On turning eighty ; Journey to an antique land ; foreword to The angel is my watermark. Capra Press. ISBN 978-0-912264-43-1. 
  54. ^Shane Parrish (11 August 2014). "Henry Miller on Turning 80, Fighting Evil, And Why Life is the Best Teacher". Farnham Street Blog. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  55. ^Vincent Canby, "Beatty's 'Reds,' With Diane Keaton,"New York Times, December 4, 1981.
  56. ^Dear, Dear Brenda: The Love Letters of Henry Miller to Brenda Venus. New York: Morrow, 1986. ISBN 0-688-02816-0
  57. ^Alden Whitman, "Henry Miller, 88, Dies in California,"The New York Times, June 9, 1980.
  58. ^"Playing Ping Pong With Henry Miller,"BBC Radio 4, July 25, 2013.
  59. ^Gertz, Elmer, and Felice Flanery Lewis, eds. (1978). Henry Miller: Years of Trial & Triumph, 1962–1964: The Correspondence of Henry Miller and Elmer Gertz. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-0860-6. 
  60. ^Henry Miller, Preface to Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, New York: New Directions, 1957, p. ix.
  61. ^Harry T. Moore, "Hard-Boiled Eloquence,"New York Times, December 20, 1959.
  62. ^Henry Miller, "Author's Preface," The Henry Miller Reader, New York: New Directions, 1959, p. xv.
  63. ^Coast Publishing. "Henry Miller: The Centennial Print Collection"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  64. ^"Henry Miller: An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  65. ^"Henry Miller Art Museum to Close". Japan Times. August 31, 2001. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  66. ^Miller, Valentine (2005). "Henry Miller: A Personal Collection". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  67. ^Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 291.
  68. ^Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center. "Search Results for "Henry Miller"". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  69. ^"Grove Press Records: an inventory of its records at Syracuse University". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  70. ^"Finding Aid for the Henry Miller Papers, 1896–1984, 1930–1980". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  71. ^"Beatrice Wickens Miller Sandford and Barbara Miller Sandford: A Preliminary Inventory of Their Collection of Henry Miller in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  72. ^University of Victoria Library. "Henry Miller collection". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  73. ^University of Virginia Library. "Search results for "Henry Miller"". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  74. ^Yale University Library. "Guide to the Henry Miller Papers". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  75. ^"Henry Miller papers". University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  76. ^ ab"About the Henry Miller Library". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  77. ^Sipper, Ralph B. (January 6, 1991). "Miller's Tale: Henry Hits 100". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  78. ^Shmoop. "Tropic of Cancer Allusions". 
  79. ^Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, pp. 386, 415.
  80. ^Henry Miller on IMDb
  81. ^"Reds" by Steinberg, Jay S. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 15, 2013
  82. ^"Henry Miller Is Not Dead". Moving Images Distribution Society. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Rexroth, Kenneth. "The Reality of Henry Miller" and "Henry Miller: The Iconoclast as Everyman’s Friend" (1955–1962 essays)
  • Durrell, Lawrence, editor. The Henry Miller Reader, New York: New Directions Publishing, 1959. ISBN 0-8112-0111-2
  • Widmer, Kingsley. Henry Miller, New York: Twayne, 1963.
  • Wickes, George, and Harry Thornton Moore. Henry Miller and the Critics, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963.
  • Wickes, George. Henry Miller, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1966.
  • Gordon, William A. The Mind and Art of Henry Miller, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967.
  • Dick, Kenneth C. Henry Miller: Colossus of One, Holland: Alberts, 1967.
  • Brassaï. Henry Miller: The Paris Years, New York: Arcade Publishing, 1975. ISBN 978-1-61145-028-6
  • Mailer, Norman. Genius and Lust: a Journey Through the Major Writings of Henry Miller, New York: Grove Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8021-0127-5
  • Martin, Jay. Always Merry and Bright: The Life of Henry Miller, Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1978. ISBN 0-88496-082-X
  • Kraft, Barbara. A Conversation with Henry Miller, Michigan: Michigan Quarterly Review, Published at The University of Michigan, 1981.
  • Kraft, Barbara. An Open Letter to Henry Miller, Paris, France: Handshake Editions, 1982.
  • Young, Noel, editor. The Paintings of Henry Miller: Paint as You Like and Die Happy, Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1982. ISBN 0-87701-280-6
  • Nin, Anaïs. Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1986. ISBN 978-0-15-140003-4
  • Winslow, Kathryn. Henry Miller: Full of Life, Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1986. ISBN 0-87477-404-7
  • Brown, J. D. Henry Miller, New York: Ungar, 1986. ISBN 0-8044-2077-7
  • Stuhlmann, Gunther, editor. A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, 1932–1953, San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987. ISBN 0-15-152729-6
  • Ibarguen, Raoul R. Narrative Detours: Henry Miller and the Rise of New Critical Modernism, excerpts from Ph.D. thesis, 1989.
  • Dearborn, Mary V.The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. ISBN 0-671-67704-7
  • Ferguson, Robert. Henry Miller: A Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991. ISBN 0-393-02978-6
  • Kraft, Barbara. Last Days of Henry Miller, New York: Hudson Review, 1993.
  • Jong, Erica. The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller, New York: Turtle Bay Books, 1993. ISBN 0-394-58498-8
  • Fitzpatrick, Elayne Wareing. Doing It With the Cosmos: Henry Miller's Big Sur Struggle for Love Beyond Sex, Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2001. ISBN 1-4010-1048-2[self-published source]
  • Brassaï. Henry Miller, Happy Rock, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. ISBN 0-226-07139-1
  • Masuga, Katy. Henry Miller and How He Got That Way, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7486-4118-5
  • Masuga, Katy. The Secret Violence of Henry Miller, Rochester, NY: Camden House Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-57113-484-4
  • Turner, Frederick. Renegade: Henry Miller and the Making of Tropic of Cancer, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-300-14949-4
  • Kraft, Barbara. "Henry Miller: The Last Days", Huffington Post, 2013.
  • Männiste, Indrek. Henry Miller: The Inhuman Artist: A Philosophical Inquiry, New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 978-1-62356-108-6
  • Hoyle, Arthur. The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-61145-899-2
  • Kraft, Barbara. Henry Miller: The Last Days, San Antonio, TX: Sky Blue Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0988917088

External links[edit]

A 1957 watercolor by Miller.



In an October 1957 letter to a friend who had recommended he read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “Although I don’t feel that it’s at all necessary to tell you how I feel about the principle of individuality, I know that I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life expressing it one way or another, and I think that I’ll accomplish more by expressing it on the keys of a typewriter than by letting it express itself in sudden outbursts of frustrated violence. . . .”

Thompson carved out his niche early. He was born in 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky, where his fiction and poetry earned him induction into the local Athenaeum Literary Association while he was still in high school. Thompson continued his literary pursuits in the United States Air Force, writing a weekly sports column for the base newspaper. After two years of service, Thompson endured a series of newspaper jobs—all of which ended badly—before he took to freelancing from Puerto Rico and South America for a variety of publications. The vocation quickly developed into a compulsion.

Thompson completed The Rum Diary, his only novel to date, before he turned twenty-five; bought by Ballantine Books, it finally was published—to glowing reviews—in 1998. In 1967, Thompson published his first nonfiction book, Hell’s Angels, a harsh and incisive firsthand investigation into the infamous motorcycle gang then making the heartland of America nervous.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which first appeared in Rolling Stone in November 1971, sealed Thompson’s reputation as an outlandish stylist successfully straddling the line between journalism and fiction writing. As the subtitle warns, the book tells of “a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream” in full-tilt gonzo style—Thompson’s hilarious first-person approach—and is accented by British illustrator Ralph Steadman’s appropriate drawings.

His next book, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, was a brutally perceptive take on the 1972 Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign. A self-confessed political junkie, Thompson chronicled the 1992 presidential campaign in Better than Sex (1994). Thompson’s other books include The Curse of Lono (1983), a bizarre South Seas tale, and three collections of Gonzo Papers: The Great Shark Hunt (1979), Generation of Swine (1988) and Songs of the Doomed (1990).

In 1997, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967, the first volume of Thompson’s correspondence with everyone from his mother to Lyndon Johnson, was published. The second volume of letters, Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976, has just been released.

Located in the mostly posh neighborhood of western Colorado’s Woody Creek Canyon, ten miles or so down-valley from Aspen, Owl Farm is a rustic ranch with an old-fashioned Wild West charm. Although Thompson’s beloved peacocks roam his property freely, it’s the flowers blooming around the ranch house that provide an unexpected high-country tranquility. Jimmy Carter, George McGovern and Keith Richards, among dozens of others, have shot clay pigeons and stationary targets on the property, which is a designated Rod and Gun Club and shares a border with the White River National Forest. Almost daily, Thompson leaves Owl Farm in either his Great Red Shark Convertible or Jeep Grand Cherokee to mingle at the nearby Woody Creek Tavern.

Visitors to Thompson’s house are greeted by a variety of sculptures, weapons, boxes of books and a bicycle before entering the nerve center of Owl Farm, Thompson’s obvious command post on the kitchen side of a peninsula counter that separates him from a lounge area dominated by an always-on Panasonic TV, always tuned to news or sports. An antique upright piano is piled high and deep enough with books to engulf any reader for a decade. Above the piano hangs a large Ralph Steadman portrait of “Belinda”—the Slut Goddess of Polo. On another wall covered with political buttons hangs a Che Guevara banner acquired on Thompson’s last tour of Cuba. On the counter sits an IBM Selectric typewriter—a Macintosh computer is set up in an office in the back wing of the house.

The most striking thing about Thompson’s house is that it isn’t the weirdness one notices first: it’s the words. They’re everywhere—handwritten in his elegant lettering, mostly in fading red Sharpie on the blizzard of bits of paper festooning every wall and surface: stuck to the sleek black leather refrigerator, taped to the giant TV, tacked up on the lampshades; inscribed by others on framed photos with lines like, “For Hunter, who saw not only fear and loathing, but hope and joy in ’72—George McGovern”; typed in IBM Selectric on reams of originals and copies in fat manila folders that slide in piles off every counter and table top; and noted in many hands and inks across the endless flurry of pages.

Thompson extricates his large frame from his ergonomically correct office chair facing the TV and lumbers over graciously to administer a hearty handshake or kiss to each caller according to gender, all with an easy effortlessness and unexpectedly old-world way that somehow underscores just who is in charge.

We talked with Thompson for twelve hours straight. This was nothing out of the ordinary for the host: Owl Farm operates like an eighteenth-century salon, where people from all walks of life congregate in the wee hours for free exchanges about everything from theoretical physics to local water rights, depending on who’s there. Walter Isaacson, managing editor of Time, was present during parts of this interview, as were a steady stream of friends. Given the very late hours Thompson keeps, it is fitting that the most prominently posted quote in the room, in Thompson’s hand, twists the last line of Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”: “Rage, rage against the coming of the light.”

For most of the half-day that we talked, Thompson sat at his command post, chain-smoking red Dunhills through a German-made gold-tipped cigarette filter and rocking back and forth in his swivel chair. Behind Thompson’s sui generis personality lurks a trenchant humorist with a sharp moral sensibility. His exaggerated style may defy easy categorization, but his career-long autopsy on the death of the American dream places him among the twentieth century’s most exciting writers. The comic savagery of his best work will continue to electrify readers for generations to come.

. . . I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of writing from the Book of Revelation than from anything else in the English Language—and it is not because I am a biblical scholar, or because of any religious faith, but because I love the wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it and makes it music.



Well, wanting to and having to are two different things. Originally I hadn’t thought about writing as a solution to my problems. But I had a good grounding in literature in high school. We’d cut school and go down to a café on Bardstown Road where we would drink beer and read and discuss Plato’s parable of the cave. We had a literary society in town, the Athenaeum; we met in coat and tie on Saturday nights. I hadn’t adjusted too well to society—I was in jail for the night of my high school graduation—but I learned at the age of fifteen that to get by you had to find the one thing you can do better than anybody else . . . at least this was so in my case. I figured that out early. It was writing. It was the rock in my sock. Easier than algebra. It was always work, but it was always worthwhile work. I was fascinated early by seeing my byline in print. It was a rush. Still is.

When I got to the Air Force, writing got me out of trouble. I was assigned to pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola in northwest Florida, but I was shifted to electronics . . . advanced, very intense, eight-month school with bright guys . . . I enjoyed it but I wanted to get back to pilot training. Besides, I’m afraid of electricity. So I went up there to the base education office one day and signed up for some classes at Florida State. I got along well with a guy named Ed and I asked him about literary possibilities. He asked me if I knew anything about sports, and I said that I had been the editor of my high-school paper. He said, “Well, we might be in luck.” It turned out that the sports editor of the base newspaper, a staff sergeant, had been arrested in Pensacola and put in jail for public drunkenness, pissing against the side of a building; it was the third time and they wouldn’t let him out.

So I went to the base library and found three books on journalism. I stayed there reading them until it closed. Basic journalism. I learned about headlines, leads: who, when, what, where, that sort of thing. I barely slept that night. This was my ticket to ride, my ticket to get out of that damn place. So I started as an editor. Boy, what a joy. I wrote long Grantland Rice-type stories. The sports editor of my hometown Louisville Courier Journal always had a column, left-hand side of the page. So I started a column.

By the second week I had the whole thing down. I could work at night. I wore civilian clothes, worked off base, had no hours, but I worked constantly. I wrote not only for the base paper, The Command Courier, but also the local paper, The Playground News. I’d put things in the local paper that I couldn’t put in the base paper. Really inflammatory shit. I wrote for a professional wrestling newsletter. The Air Force got very angry about it. I was constantly doing things that violated regulations. I wrote a critical column about how Arthur Godfrey, who’d been invited to the base to be the master of ceremonies at a firepower demonstration, had been busted for shooting animals from the air in Alaska. The base commander told me: “Goddamn it, son, why did you have to write about Arthur Godfrey that way?”

When I left the Air Force I knew I could get by as a journalist. So I went to apply for a job at Sports Illustrated. I had my clippings, my bylines, and I thought that was magic . . . my passport. The personnel director just laughed at me. I said, “Wait a minute. I’ve been sports editor for two papers.” He told me that their writers were judged not by the work they’d done, but where they’d done it. He said, “Our writers are all Pulitzer Prize winners from The New York Times. This is a helluva place for you to start. Go out into the boondocks and improve yourself.”

I was shocked. After all, I’d broken the Bart Starr story.


What was that?


At Eglin Air Force Base we always had these great football teams. The Eagles. Championship teams. We could beat up on the University of Virginia. Our bird-colonel Sparks wasn’t just any yo-yo coach. We recruited. We had these great players serving their military time in ROTC. We had Zeke Bratkowski, the Green Bay quarterback. We had Max McGee of the Packers. Violent, wild, wonderful drunk. At the start of the season McGee went AWOL, appeared at the Green Bay camp and he never came back. I was somehow blamed for his leaving. The sun fell out of the firmament. Then the word came that we were getting Bart Starr, the All-American from Alabama. The Eagles were going to roll! But then the staff sergeant across the street came in and said, “I’ve got a terrible story for you. Bart Starr’s not coming.” I managed to break into an office and get out his files. I printed the order that showed he was being discharged medically. Very serious leak.


The Bart Starr story was not enough to impress Sports Illustrated?


The personnel guy there said, “Well, we do have this trainee program.” So I became a kind of copy boy.


You eventually ended up in San Francisco. With the publication in 1967 of Hell’s Angels, your life must have taken an upward spin.


All of a sudden I had a book out. At the time I was twenty-nine years old and I couldn’t even get a job driving a cab in San Francisco, much less writing. Sure, I had written important articles for The Nation and The Observer, but only a few good journalists really knew my byline. The book enabled me to buy a brand new BSA 650 Lightning, the fastest motorcycle ever tested by Hot Rod magazine. It validated everything I had been working toward. If Hell’s Angels hadn’t happened I never would have been able to write Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or anything else. To be able to earn a living as a freelance writer in this country is damned hard; there are very few people who can do that. Hell’s Angels all of a sudden proved to me that, Holy Jesus, maybe I can do this. I knew I was a good journalist. I knew I was a good writer, but I felt like I got through a door just as it was closing.


With the swell of creative energy flowing throughout the San Francisco scene at the time, did you interact with or were you influenced by any other writers?


Ken Kesey for one. His novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion had quite an impact on me. I looked up to him hugely. One day I went down to the television station to do a roundtable show with other writers, like Kay Boyle, and Kesey was there. Afterwards we went across the street to a local tavern and had several beers together. I told him about the Angels, who I planned to meet later that day, and I said, “Well, why don’t you come along?” He said, “Whoa, I’d like to meet these guys.” Then I got second thoughts, because it’s never a good idea to take strangers along to meet the Angels. But I figured that this was Ken Kesey, so I’d try. By the end of the night Kesey had invited them all down to La Honda, his woodsy retreat outside of San Francisco. It was a time of extreme turbulence—riots in Berkeley. He was always under assault by the police—day in and day out, so La Honda was like a war zone. But he had a lot of the literary, intellectual crowd down there, Stanford people also, visiting editors, and Hell’s Angels. Kesey’s place was a real cultural vortex.


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