Barbara Miller Biography & Facts
Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American novelist. He broke with existing literary forms and developed a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, stream of consciousness, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris (all of which were banned in the United States until 1961). He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.
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. As a child, he lived for nine years at 662 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 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. After finishing elementary school, although his family remained in Bushwick, Miller attended Eastern District High School in Williamsburg. As a young man, he was active with the Socialist Party of America (his "quondam idol" was the black Socialist Hubert Harrison). He attended the City College of New York for one semester.
Miller married his first wife, Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, in 1917; their divorce was granted on December 21, 1923. Together they had a daughter, Barbara, born in 1919. They lived in an apartment at 244 6th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. At the time, Miller was working at Western Union; he worked there from 1920 to 1924, as personnel manager in the messenger department. 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. A study of twelve Western Union messengers, Clipped Wings was characterized by Miller as "a long book and probably a very bad one."In 1923, while he was still married to Beatrice, Miller met and became enamored of a mysterious dance-hall ingénue who was born Juliet Edith Smerth but went by the stage-name June Mansfield. She was 21 at the time. They began an affair, and were married on June 1, 1924. In 1924 Miller quit Western Union in order to dedicate himself completely to writing. Miller later describes this time – his struggles to become a writer, his sexual escapades, his failures, his friends, his 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 his wife Juliet (June). 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. The book went unpublished until 1992, 65 years after it was written and 12 years after Miller's death. 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. 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. Kronski committed suicide around 1930.
In 1928, Miller spent several months in Paris with June, a trip which was financed by Freedman. 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." In 1930, Miller moved to Paris unaccompanied. 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!" 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. 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. Late in 1934, June divorced Miller by proxy in Mexico City.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. At that time a young British author, Lawrence Durrell, became a lifelong friend. Miller's correspondence with Durrell was later published in two books. 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. The dust jacket came wrapped with a warning: "Not to be imported into the United States or Great Britain." 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).Miller became fluent in French during his ten-year stay in Paris and lived in France until June 1939. During the late 1930s Miller also learned about German-born sailor George Dibbern, helped to promote his memoire Quest and organized charit.... Discover the Barbara Miller popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Barbara Miller books.