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Henry Miller Papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 472

Scope and Contents

The Henry Miller papers contain writings, journals, administrative files, correspondence, photographs, and personal papers chiefly documenting Miller's life and career from the 1950s through 1970s, though the papers include significant items dating from the 1930s and earlier. Writings in the collection consist of drafts of shorter works dating from the 1970s, with biographical works on friends, family, and acquaintances, and material relating to earlier, well-known titles. There is a typescript carbon draft of Miller's Tropic of Capricorn, circa 1934, possibly the earliest surviving draft of this novel, and there are notes and proofs dating from the mid 1940s for Nexus, The Rosy Crucifixion, and The World of Sex. Miller's three Paris journals, dating from 1930s, include reflections on life in Paris, discussions on contemporary literature and art, excerpts from his major works of the period, and lists recording residences, places to visit, and other activities. Administrative files contain correspondence and financial and legal records relating to theatrical and cinematic productions of Miller's literary works during the 1960s and 1970s. Miller's correspondence from the 1960s and 1970s includes letters from friends, farmily, writers and artists, translators, and literary agents and publishers. In addition to files for Agence Hoffman, Grove Press, and Laurence Pollinger Ltd., there are letters from Lawrence Durrell, Erica Jong, Norman Mailer, Anaïs Nin, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Other materials include photographs and personal papers such as address books, manuscript notes, and printed ephemera.


  • 1898 - 1979
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1979


Language of Materials

Chiefly in English and French; some material in German, Japanese, Danish, and Swedish.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Henry Miller Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from PBA Galleries sale, San Francisco, 2010 March 18, lots 94-214 on the Edwin J. Beinecke and Alfred Z. Baker, Jr. funds, 2010.

From the collection of Roger Wagner.


Organized into six series: I. Writings, 1945-1979. II. Notebooks, 1930-1951. III. Administrative Files, 1962-1976. IV. Correspondence, 1928-1979. V. Photographs, 1910-1975. VI. Personal Papers, 1898-1978.

Associated Materials

Henry Miller Papers (Collection Number 110). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.


5.29 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Henry Miller papers contain writings, journals, administrative files, correspondence, photographs, and personal papers chiefly documenting Miller's life and career from the 1950s through 1970s.

Henry Miller (1891-1980)

Henry Miller was a prolific and controversial Twentieth century author and painter. There are several book-length biographical studies of Miller, beginning with Alfred Perlès' My Friend, Henry Miller (1956), and including works by Jay Martin (1978), Mary Dearborn (1991), Béatrice Commengé (1991), and Judson Crews (1997), among others. Summary information on Miller is available in print and online biographical resources.

The following chronology provides key events and publications taken from Miller's My Life and Times (1971).

1891 Born in Yorksville section of Manhattan, New York, December 26th. Moved to Brooklyn.

1892-1900 Lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

1901 Moved to Decatur Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

1909 Entered City College of New York and left after two months. Took a job with Atlas Portland Cement Company, New York.

1910 Began affair with Pauline Chouteau.

1913 Traveled through the West. Worked as a ranch hand. Met Emma Goldman.

1914 Back in New York, worked with father in his tailor shop. Met Frank Harris.

1917 Married Beatrice Sylvas Wickens of Brooklyn.

1919 Daughter Barbara Sylvas born.

1920 Worked as a messenger for several months, then became employment manager of messenger department, Western Union, New York.

1922 Wrote Clipped Wings during vacation from Western Union.

1923 Fell in love with dancer June Edith Smith.

1924 Left Western Union to devote energy to writing. Divorced Beatrice and married June Smith.

1925 Began writing career in earnest.

1927 Opened a speak-easy with June in Greenwich Village. While working for Park Department, Queens, compiled notes for autobiographical cycle of novels. Exhibited water colors in June Mansfield's roman Tavern, Greenwich Village.

1928 Toured Europe with June.

1929 Returned to New York. Completed This Gentile World.

1930 Returned to Europe alone, taking manuscript of another novel, lost by Edward Titus, editor of This Quarter, Paris.

1931-1932 Met Anaïs Nin. Began writing Tropic of Cancer. Worked as proof-reader on the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune. Taught English at Lycee Carnot (Dijon).

1933. Took apartment with Alfred Perlès in Clichy and visited Luxembourg.

1934 Tropic of Cancer published. Divorced from June in Mexico City by proxy.

1935 Aller Retour New York published. First edition of Alf Letter appeared.

1936 Visited New York again. Black Spring published.

1937 Scenario published. Began publication of The Booster and Delta with Alfred Perlès.

1938 Began writing for French revue, Volontés. Money and How It Gets That Way published. Second edition of Alf appeared.

1939 Tropic of Capricorn and Hamlet published. Travelled in southern France and Greece.

1940 Returned to the U.S. Wrote The Colossus of Maroussi, The World of Sex, and Quiet Days in Clichy and began The Rosy Crucifixion.

1941 Travelled U.S. from October 1940 to October 1941.

1942 Left for California. Continued work on The Rosy Crucifixion and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

1943 Made 200-300 watercolors and exhibited at Beverly Glen (The Green House), American Contemporary Gallery, Hollywood.

1944 Married Janina Lepska in Denver, Colorado, December 18, 1944. Moved to Big Sur.

1945 Finished Sexus. Started translation of Season in Hell. Daughter Valentine born November 19.

1946 Moved to shack at Anderson Creek. Began work on Into the Night Life and The Time of the Assassins.

1947 Finished Into the Nightlife and began writing Plexus.

1948 WroteThe Smile at the Foot of the Ladder. Son Tony born August 28.

1949 Finished Plexus and began writing The Books in My Life.

1951 Finished The Books in My Life.

1952 Began writing Nexus. Divorced Janina Lepska.

1953 Spent time in England and France. Married Eve McClure in Carmel Highlands in December.

1954 Began writing Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.

1955 Saw daughter Barbara Sandford for first time since 1925.

1956 Recorded Henry Miller Recalls and Reflects. Collection of short pieces translated and published in Hebrew as Hatzoth Vahtzi (Half Past Midnight). Finished Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.

1957 Rewrote Quiet Days in Clichy and The World of Sex. Exhibitions of watercolors in London, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Began writing Lime Twigs and Treachery.

1958 Continued work on Nexus.

1959 Finished Nexus. Spent time in Europe. Wrote letters contained in Art and Outrage.

1960 Wrote To Paint is to Love Again. Spent time in Europe. Wrote first draft of Just Wild About Harry.

1961 Toured Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Tropic of Cancer published.

1962 Began writing volume two of Nexus. Spent time in England, Ireland, France, Germany. Received final decree of divorce from Eve.

1963 Moved to Pacific Palisades. Just Wild About Harry published.

1964 Henry Miller on Writing published.

1965 Death of Eve (third wife). Production of the opera The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder in Hamburg, Germany. Selected Prose and Letters to Anaïs Nin published.

1966 Order and Chaos Chez Hans Reichel published.

1967 The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder produced in Marseilles and Trieste. The Henry Miller Odyssey film begun by Robert Snyder. Married Hoki Tokuda on September 10.

1968 Watercolor exhibit toured Japan. Collector's Quest and new edition of To Paint is to Love Again published. Began writing My Life and Times.

1969 Premiere of The Henry Miller Odyssey at Royce Hall, U.C.L.A. Travelled to Europe to observe filming on Tropic of Cancer.

1970 Tropic of Cancer and Quiet Days in Clichy films opened in U.S. Insomnia or the Devil at Large and Entretiens de Paris published.

1971 My Life and Times published.

Guide to the Henry Miller Papers
by Michael L. Forstrom
June 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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