The Arthur Miller Century
A timeline of his life & work from 1915 to 2015
Explore Arthur Miller's life and career, from his childhood experiences to his last works and continued legacy. Select a decade, or scroll down to begin.
Arthur, Augusta, and Kermit Miller
| Arthur Ashur Miller is born on October 17th to Augusta and Isidore Miller, both of Austrian Jewish descent. The family lives in a comfortable apartment in Harlem, then an upper-middle class Jewish neighborhood, overlooking Central Park.
| His father’s successful garment manufacturing business, Miltex Coat and Suit Company, begins to suffer during the looming Depression. The family moves to a more modest house in rural Brooklyn.
| Known as Black Tuesday, October 24th sees the largest stock market crash in US history. Isidore Miller losses much of his wealth in the crash, and declares bankruptcy within a year. The ensuing Great Depression demonstrated to the young Arthur that no system was unfailing, including the American Dream.
| After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High school with an unimpressive academic record, saves money for college by working a series of odd-jobs throughout New York City.
University of Michigan's Student Publications Building,
home of the Michigan Daily
| Writes to the Dean of University of Michigan, appealing his second rejection by stating he has become “a more serious fellow.” To his own surprise, Miller is accepted and begins in the fall, studying journalism. Works as the night editor of the student newspaper, Michigan Daily, and begins his involvement in radical politics.
| Writes his first play, No Villain, in six days. It wins the University’s Hopwood Award in Drama and a $250 cash-prize, prompting Miller to change his major to English.
| Enrolls in Kenneth T. Rowe’s playwriting class, where he first studies the Greek dramatists and Henrik Ibsen. Wins $1,250 in a Theatre Guild playwriting competition, and another Hopwood Award.
| Graduates from University of Michigan with a BA in English. Moves back to New York to write for the Federal Theater Project, six months before it’s shuttered by Congress. He then writes radio plays for CBS and NBC.
New York Times headline
on Nov. 11, 1938.
| Starting on November 8th, three days of violent, anti-Jewish attacks take place in Germany and its annexed territories in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Despite being world-wide news, Kristallnacht, as it came be known, only signaled the beginning of Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.
A young Arthur Miller at typewriter.
| Marries his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, and moves to Brooklyn Heights.
Brooklyn Naval Yard
| A football injury from high school precludes Miller from military service. He instead works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, repairing damaged ships from the North Atlantic Fleet.
| Experiences rising anti-Semitism during the early part of the war.
| The Man Who Had All the Luck, his first play on Broadway, opens on November 23rd. It closes after only two previews and four performances. The play, however, wins the Theater Guild National Award.
| Daughter Jane is born.
First edition cover of Miller's novel, Focus.
| Publishes Focus, his only novel, one of the country’s first works about anti-Semitism.
Poster for original Broadway production of All My Sons,
directed by Elia Kazan,
starring Arthur Kennedy, Ed Begley, Lois Wheeler & Karl Malden.
| All My Sons opens on Broadway on January 29th. It is a critical and commercial success, running for 328 performances and earning its author a Tony Award for Best Play.
| Uses the profits to purchase a house in Brooklyn Heights, a new car, and a farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. Becomes involved in a variety of anti-Fascist and pro-Communist activities. Son Robert is born.
Miller's writing studio,
a 10ftX12ft structure in Roxbury, CT.
| Builds a small studio on his Connecticut property, where he writes the first act of Death of a Salesman in twenty-four hours. The second act takes another six weeks.
Original Broadway production of
Death of a Salesman.
| Death of a Salesman opens on February 10th and runs for 742 performances. Wins the Pulitzer Prize and six Tony Awards. Even in its own time, it is quickly considered one of the greatest American dramas.
| Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People opens on December 28th. It runs for only 36 performances.
| Travels to Hollywood with Elia Kazan to find studio-backing for his screenplay, The Hook, about union corruption on the Brooklyn waterfront. Meets Marilyn Monroe on the set of her film As Young as You Feel.
| The Crucible opens on January 23rd and runs for 197 performances. Despite the play’s powerful resonance with McCarthyism, the production is met with mixed reviews, including by the author himself. It wins Miller his third Tony Award.
Original Broadway production of
| Lives in Nevada for six weeks in order to divorce Mary Slattery.
Miller in front of the
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
| On June 21st, Miller testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee, refusing to name names of others attending meetings organized by Communist sympathizers.
Miller & Monroe in CT
| Eight days later, he marries Marilyn Monroe at a courthouse in White Plains.
| A finalized version of A View from the Bridge opens in London.
| Indicted on charges of contempt for Congress for not naming suspected Communists, though the conviction is overturned on appeal the following year. Purchases a 300-acre farm in Roxbury, Connecticut.
| Divorces Marilyn Monroe. The film The Misfits, which Miller began writing for Monroe five years earlier, is released. It is Monroe’s last film; she dies two years later.
Miller & Morath.
| Marries Austrian-born photograph Inge Morath on February 17th. Their daughter Rebecca is born the following year.
Original Broadway Production of After the Fall,
with Barbara Loden & Jason Robards Jr.
| Visits the Mauthausen death camp with Morath and covers Nazi trails for the New York Herald Tribune. Plays Incident at Vichy and After the Fall open in New York; both deal directly with the Holocaust.
| Elected president of PEN, the international organization of writers dedicated to fighting all forms of censorship.
| Death of a Salesman staged at Westport Country Playhouse by the American Conservatory Theater.
| Son Daniel is born in January.
| The Price opens on February 7, and runs for 429 performances.
Miller & Paul Newman at the
1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
| Attends the Democratic National Convention in Chicago as a delegate from Connecticut, along with Paul Newman.
| Miller’s works are banned in the Soviet Union due to his efforts to free jailed writers there.
| The Price appears at the Playhouse.
Mark Lamos (kneeling) as Abel in
The Creation of the World and Other Business.
| The Creation of the World and Other Business opens in New York on November 30th, but closes after only 20 performances. The cast includes a young actor from Chicago named Mark Lamos. Miller would write the book for a musical version, Up from Paradise, two years later.
| Attends the Democratic National Convention in Miami.
| The Archbishop’s Ceiling opens at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The play is set in an unspecified Eastern European country, in room that may or may not have been bugged by secret police.
| Visits the People’s Republic of China. Publishes Chinese Encounters, a travel journal with photographs by Morath, the following year.
| The American Clock is first performed in South Carolina. Miller’s sister Joan plays a role based on their mother.
Miller in Beijing.
| Directs Death of a Salesman in Beijing with a Chinese cast, part of a cultural exchange marking the opening of diplomatic relations between the US and China.
| Receives Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in the arts, as well as an honorary doctorate from University of Hartford.
| Publishes Timebinds: A Life, combining elements of autobiography, memoir, and cultural critique.
| All My Sons, directed by Jose Ferrér, performs at the Playhouse.
| The Ride Down Mt. Morgan premieres in London.
| The Last Yankee premieres at Manhattan Theater Club on January 5th, directed by John Tillinger.
WCP Associate Artist Annie Keefe and Arthur Miller, 1994.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
| Broken Glass premieres at Long Wharf Theatre. The production is directed by John Tillinger, and stage managed by Annie Keefe. It transfers to the Booth Theater on Broadway on April 24th.
| Film version of The Crucible premieres. Miller himself wrote the screenplay, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. The film was produced by his son, Robert, and stars his son-in-law, Daniel Day-Lewis.
| Mr. Peter’s Connection opens at Signature Theater in New York, at the end of a season of Miller plays.
| On the same night a revival of Death of a Salesman wins four Tony Awards, Miller receives the Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.
| Travels to Cuba with Morath. The two meet with Fidel Castro and the Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez.
| Inge Morath dies on January 30th.
| Resurrection Blues has its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on August 9th.
All My Sons at the Playhouse.
With Richard Dreyfuss and Jill Clayburgh.
Photo credit: T. Charles Erickson.
| All My Sons is revived at the Playhouse, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Jill Clayburgh.
John de Lancie and Bruce Bohne
in Resurrection Blues, directed by Mark Lamos.
Courtesy of The Old Globe.
| Miller’s last play, Finishing the Picture, opens at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Returns to University of Michigan for a celebration of his work conceived and staged by Mark Lamos, who had recently directed Resurrection Blues at the Old Globe in San Diego.
| Miller dies of heart failure at his Roxbury home on February 10th.
The Archbishop's Ceiling at the Playhouse, 2006.
Featuring Thomas G. Waites, Heather Kenzie, Bruce McCarty,
David Rasche, Sara Surrey. Photo by Richard Termine.
| The Archbishop’s Ceiling performs at the Playhouse.
| The Arthur Miller Theater opens at University of Michigan.
| The first of Christopher Bigsby’s two-volume biography, Arthur Miller: 1915 – 1962, is published. The second volume, covering Miller’s last 40 years, is published two years later.
| A revival of Broken Glass, starring Anthony Sher, opens in London’s West End.
| The fifth Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman opens on March 15th. The production is directed by Mike Nichols and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman. It wins two Tony Awards for Best Direction and Best Revival.
| In celebration of the centenary of Miller’s birthday, theaters across the globe produce his work.