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Exploring: Arthur Miller's Focus

Monday, September 14, 2015, 10:00am

arthur miller collageThe Arthur Miller exhibition from Pequot Library's Special Collections of rare books and materials will run from September 8, 2015 - October 8, 2015. It is open during normal library hours.

Playwright and controversial American, Arthur Miller would be 100 years old in October. To celebrate this literary anniversary Pequot Library has a collection of his books on display in their Rare Book Case in the Library’s Reading Room. The exhibition runs through October 8, 2015, and is free and open to the public during normal library hours.

“The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life,” said Arthur Miller.

Most who know of Arthur Miller, know three things: that he was a famous playwright, that he was convicted of contempt after being subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and that he was married to movie icon Marilyn Monroe. Known throughout the world, playwright Arthur Miller will be remembered more importantly for how he depicted the moral plight of the white American working class following the Depression and World War II. He was born in 1915 in New York City where his father ran and ultimately lost a garment manufacturing business during the Depression. These beginnings profoundly affected his life and writings. With a sense of realism and a strong ear for the American vernacular, Miller created characters whose voices are an important part of the American landscape. His insight into the psychology of desperation and his ability to create stories that express the deepest meanings of struggle, have made him one of the most highly regarded and widely performed American playwrights.  

After graduating from high school, Miller worked jobs ranging from radio singer to truck driver to clerk in an automobile-parts warehouse. He began writing plays as a student at the University of Michigan and after graduation joined the Federal Theater Project in New York City. His first Broadway play, The Man Who Had All the Luck, opened in 1944 to poor reviews but his next play, All My Sons, received the Drama Critics' Circle Award. His best known play, Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1956 and 1957, Miller was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee and was convicted of contempt of Congress for his refusal to identify writers believed to hold Communist sympathies. The following year, the United States Court of Appeals overturned the conviction.

In 1959, the National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Drama. Miller has been married three times: to Mary Grace Slattery in 1940, Marilyn Monroe in 1956, and photographer Inge Morath in 1962. Among his works are A View from the Bridge, The Misfits, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, The Price, The American Clock, Broken Glass, Mr. Peters' Connections, and Timebends, his autobiography. Miller's writing has earned him a lifetime of honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, seven Tony Awards, two Drama Critics Circle Awards, an Obie, an Olivier, the John F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish prize.

Pequot Library is fortunate to own numerous copies of his work, including several first editions. In celebration of Arthur Miller’s one-hundredth birthday, this exhibit, in collaboration with Westport Country Playhouse, honors the life and works of Arthur Miller. The Playhouse will be presenting Broken Glass (October 6-24) along with workshops, films, and discussions, many free of charge. Pequot Library’s exhibition of books runs through October 8, 2015.

Books like the ones on display will be available for circulation at Pequot Library, plus select books for sale.


Location : Rare Book Cases in Reading Room
Contact : (203) 259-0346 ext. 15