Miller’s Life


1915                          Born into a Jewish Family in New York


1928             Miller’s father owned a successful clothing business. However, this went bankrupt following the Wall St. Crash and the following economic Depression – hence Miller’s dislike of the Capitalist economic system and perhaps his fascination with characters destroyed by a  struggle against larger forces that are beyond their control


1940             After graduating from university, Miller begins writing for the Federal Theatre Project, a government sponsored initiative that helped gave young writers an opportunity to start writing. However, in 1940 this was shut down by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a government agency that was trying to prevent the spread of Communism in the U.S. The HUAC believed that because many of the plays written as part of the project contained Socialist ideas they were a threat to the American way of life


1947             All My Sons’, Miller’s first real success, was performed


1949             ‘Death of a Salesman’ first performed on Broadway – Miller’s becomes famous


1950             The HUAC begin to investigate the theatre and film-making industries in their hunt for Communists


1952             Elia Kazan, a friend of Miller’s and the director of All My Sons was called before the HUAC to give evidence against people who worked in the theatre industry who might be Communists – he named Miller


1953             Miller writes ‘The Crucible’, his last big success is first written. Miller based this play on the Salem Witch trials of the 1600’s but used the characters hysterical and at times ridiculous distrust of witches to attack the HUAC’s equally hysterical and ridiculous fear of Communists and Communism


1955             ‘A View from the Bridge’ was first performed


1956             Miller divorces his first wife and marries Marilyn Monroe 17 days later. He is also called before the HUAC but refuses to name people who he thinks might be Communists. As a result he is fined $500 and given a suspended 30 day sentence in jail


1958             Miller’s suspended jail sentence is over-turned


1961             Miller divorces Marilyn Monroe


1962             Marilyn Monroe commits suicide six months after Miller’s third marriage, which was in February of 1962


1965             Miller becomes the head of P.E.N – an organization dedicated to protecting the right of playwrights and other artists to free speech


1960’s >        Miller remains politically active, campaigning against racism, inequality, the Vietnam War and the imprisonment of various writers in Communist countries