Arthur Miller’s Unseen Archives

In an article for the New York Times, Jennifer Schluesser reports on the dispute over Arthur Miller’s unseen archives, and sheds new light on his reaction to Marilyn’s death – including his decision not to attend her funeral.

“More than 160 boxes of his manuscripts and other papers have been on deposit for decades at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, uncataloged and all but inaccessible to scholars, pending a formal sale. Another cache — including some 8,000 pages of private journals — remained at his home in rural Connecticut, unexplored by anyone outside the intimate Miller circle.

Now, the Ransom Center has bought the entire archive for $2.7 million, following a discreet tug-of-war with the Miller estate, which tried to place the papers at Yale University despite the playwright’s apparent wishes that they rest in Texas.

‘Arthur wrote about everything in his journals,’ said Julia Bolus, Miller’s longtime assistant and director of the Arthur Miller Trust, who is coediting a volume of selections. ‘They were the place where all the elements of his life came together.’

Among the extensive unpublished material in the archive is an essay Miller began on Aug. 8, 1962, the day of the funeral of Marilyn Monroe, his second wife. ‘Instead of jetting to the funeral to get my picture taken I decided to stay home and let the public mourners finish the mockery,’ Miller wrote. ‘Not that everyone there will be false, but enough. Most of them there destroyed her, ladies and gentleman. She was destroyed by many things and some of those things are you and some of those things are destroying you. Destroying you now. I love as you stand there weeping and gawking, glad that it’s not you going into the earth, glad that it’s this lovely girl who at last you killed.’

Those journals are closed to researchers until after publication of that volume, by Penguin Press.

An inventory of the archive notes journal entries relating to Monroe. But it does not list any personal correspondence between her and Miller, the survival of which has been the subject of speculation over the years.

In a 2002 article in Talk Magazine, Andreas Brown, the dealer who arranged the earlier deposits to the Ransom Center, described coming across an odd bundle, which Miller told him held nearly 100 letters from Monroe. ‘It was all sealed and tied-up,’ Mr. Brown, who is now retired, recalled in a recent interview.

Miller’s memoir, Timebends, refers to correspondence with Monroe, and one of his passionate love letters to her fetched $43,750 at auction in Beverly Hills in 2014. ‘It was a really over-the-top Tom Cruise, jump-on-the-couch-kind of letter,’ Christopher Bigsby said.

But Mr. Bigsby is skeptical that a secret motherlode survives. ‘When I asked, he said he had no more than 4 or 5 of her letters,’ he said of Miller.”


Marilyn’s Letters at Bonham’s

A letter written by the young Norma Jeane Dougherty to her half-sister, Berniece Miracle, in June 1945, is among the Marilyn-related documents on auction at Bonham’s and Butterfield’s on Wednesday, April 20.

Also included are Marilyn’s first offer on her Brentwood home from 1962, and a letter from Arthur Miller to director George Cukor, thanking him for his kindness to Marilyn during filming of Let’s Make Love in 1960.

“I just wanted to thank you for the way you have behaved toward Marilyn. The picture, of course, is important to her and to you, but immeasurably more important are the precious days and weeks of her life which your patience and skill and understanding have made humanly meaningful for her. I have never known her so happy at work, so hopeful for herself, so prepared to cast away the worst of her doubts. You must know now some of the reasons why she is so precious to me and will understand the sincerity of my respect for you. / I am at work here, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to bear this bachelorhood…”

Speaking for Bonham’s, Kathryn Williamson described Monroe as the most ‘collectable’ of stars.