Arthur Miller (1915-2005)
A committed liberal playwright, he started writing under the influence of Ibsen, from which he eventually moved towards a more expressionistic kind of drama. Deeply concerned with social problems, he usually set his plays in the American middle-class family even if he sometime chose precise historical moments in the past. One of his recurrent theme is the problem of individual responsibility, the consciousness of one's own actions and their possible consequences.
Arthur Miller was born in New York, the son of a well-to-do Jewish clothing manufacturer. At High School he devoted most of his energy to sport and showed no interest in books or to study. He was at first refused entrance to the University of Michigan because of his poor school record, but was finally admitted in 1934. His interest in the theater developed rapidly at the University, where his first plays were written.
On graduating, Miller earned his living by writing plays and radio scripts. When the United States entered the war in 1941, Miller was employed by the armed forces to write scripts for training and propaganda films. His first play to be performed was The Man Who Had All the Luck, a failure when it was produced on Broadway in 1945.
This was followed by All My Sons in 1947, a highly successful play. His next drama, Death of a Salesman (1949), has become a classic of the American theater. Miller had by this time become one of the leading playwrights in America and also a prominent radical liberal intellectual. These were the years of the Cold War, when Senator Joseph McCarthy was whipping up hysteria about the influence of Communists and Communists sympathizers in American public life. Because of his political beliefs, Miller was called before the Congressional Committee investigating these accusations (the "Un-American Activities Committee"). He refused to answer any question put to him about the activities of his acquaintances, maintaining that the committee had no right to seek such information. He was indicted for contempt of Congress. As a result of this experience, Miller wrote The Crucible (1953), based on a 17th - century witch-hunt in colonial Massachusetts. He married Marilyn Monroe in 1956, and they were divorced in 1961. In 1964 he wrote After the Fall, a play based largely on their marriage. In 1962 he married Inge Morath, a photographer. He died at his home in Connecticut on February 10th, 2005.