Henry Miller

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Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of 'novel' that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional.[1] His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.



Miller was born to tailor Heinrich Miller and Louise Marie Neiting, in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, New York City, of German Catholic heritage.[2] As a child he lived at 662 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, known in that time (and referred to frequently in his works) as The Fourteenth Ward. As a young man, he was active with the Socialist Party (his "quondam idol" was the Black Socialist Hubert Harrison).[citation needed] He briefly—for only one semester—attended the City College of New York. Although he was an exceptional scholar, he was willing neither to be anchored nor to submit to the traditional college system of education.

His first wife was Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, whom he married in 1917. During 1928-29, Miller spent several months in Paris with his second wife, June Edith Smith (June Miller). The next year he moved to Paris unaccompanied, and he continued to live there until the outbreak of World War II. Although Miller had little or no money the first year in Paris, things began to change with the meeting of Anais Nin who would go on to pay his entire way through the 1930s including the rent for the beautiful and modern apartment at 18, villa Seurat. Anaïs Nin became his lover and financed the first printing of Tropic of Cancer in 1934 with money from Otto Rank.[3]

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