June Miller

Last updated
June Mansfield Miller
June Miller 1933.jpg
Miller circa 1933.
Born
Juliet Edith Smerth

(1902-01-07)January 7, 1902
DiedFebruary 1, 1979(1979-02-01) (aged 77)
Other namesJune Mansfield, June Smith, Juliet Edith Smerdt
Spouse(s)
(m. 1924;div. 1934)

Stratford Corbett
(m. 1935;div. 1947)

June Miller (January 7 or 28, 1902 – February 1, 1979) [1] [2] was the second wife of writer Henry Miller. He wrote prolifically about her and their relationship in his books, usually using the pseudonyms Mona or Mara interchangeably. She also appears prominently in the early diaries of Anaïs Nin.

Contents

Early life

Miller was born in Bukovina, Austria-Hungary (Miller would mention she was 'of Romanian origin' in Sexus ) as Juliet Edith Smerdt (or Smerth) (later Juliette), the daughter of Wilhelm and Frances Budd Smerdt, a poor Jewish family. She emigrated with her parents and four siblings to the United States in 1907. At the age of 15, Miller dropped out of high school to become a dance instructress (a euphemism at the time for a dance partner) at Wilson's Dancing Academy in Times Square, and began going by the name June Mansfield, and occasionally, June Smith. [3] [4] (Wilson's was renamed the Orpheum Dance Palace in 1931.) June is quoted as saying, "My formal education amounted to about three and a half years of high school. I was working on a scholarship to Hunter College." [4] In Sexus, Henry Miller writes that June claimed she graduated from Wellesley, but in Nexus, he writes that she never finished high school.

She would reside in New York City for much of her life, excepting a tour of Europe and stints in Paris and Arizona.

Life with Henry Miller

In 1923, while working as a taxi dancer at Wilson's, she met Henry Miller; she was 21 and he, 31. Miller left his first wife and child to marry June in Hoboken, New Jersey, on June 1, 1924. [5] Their relationship is the main subject of Miller's semi-autobiographical trilogy, The Rosy Crucifixion . June is also featured in his best-known works, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn .

In October 1926, Jean Kronski, an artist and poet, moved in with them at June's urging. [6] June, who was likely bisexual, cultivated a very close relationship with her, often preferring Jean's affections to Henry's. This living arrangement soon fell apart and Jean and June left for Paris together in April 1927. However, two months later the two women started to quarrel, and June returned to Henry in July. [7] The following year, June and Henry left for a tour of Europe, settling in Paris for several months before again returning to New York. [8] June's relationship with Jean is the central piece of Henry's autobiographical novels Crazy Cock (1930, unpublished until 12 years after Miller's death) and Nexus (1959), the third volume of The Rosy Crucifixion. Around 1930, Kronski committed suicide in an insane asylum in New York. [9]

In 1930, Henry moved to Paris unaccompanied. In 1931, while visiting Henry, June met writer Anaïs Nin. Nin quickly became obsessed with her and, like Henry, used her as an archetype in many of her writings. June and Nin became involved in a flirtatious relationship, although Nin denied it was sexual. However, June would figure prominently in her published and unpublished diaries, upon which the movie Henry & June was loosely based. In the film, she was portrayed by Uma Thurman. June was not pleased with the publication of Nin's expurgated diaries, which omitted Nin's affair with Miller and thus omitted the role Nin played in the breakup of the Millers' marriage. [10]

June and Henry divorced by proxy in Mexico City in 1934. [4] [11]

Later life

After divorcing Miller, she married insurance salesman Stratford Corbett around 1935. [4] Corbett had been courting her when Miller left for Paris in 1930, and it upset Miller greatly when he found out that June and Corbett were together. [12] Stratford left her in 1947 for the actress Rita La Roy Corbett. [4] June lived in a series of cheap hotels around New York City, such as the Hotel Continental on 95th Street. She was in touch with Miller during this period through the post, and he sent her money through friends and bookstores such as the Gotham Book Mart. [13] The notebooks Miller kept on his 1940 trip across the United States that would become The Air-Conditioned Nightmare included a handful of stray references to June. One reads, "Sit here dreaming of June. Where now, little June? Are you happy?" [14]

During the 1950s, June was admitted to psychiatric wards where she received electric shock treatments, during which she broke several bones after falling off the operating table. She never fully recovered. In 1954, she began volunteering as a social worker. In 1957, she became an intern receptionist at the city welfare department, and was working for the department full-time by 1960. In 1961, she met Miller again; he later wrote that he was shocked at what he saw as 'her deterioration'. The two did not rekindle their relationship. [13] [15] In the late 1960s, June moved to Arizona with one of her brothers. Although she expressed a desire to write an autobiography, she never wrote anything other than letters. However, she had enormous literary influence over the works of her ex-husband Miller and Anaïs Nin. She died in Arizona in 1979. The grave of "June E. Corbett, beloved sister," in the Valley View Cemetery in Cottonwood, Arizona, is probably hers. [16]

Books featuring June

Fiction

Nonfiction

Related Research Articles

Anaïs Nin French-born American author (1903–1977)

Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell was a French-born American diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories and erotica. Born to Cuban parents in France, Nin was the daughter of the composer Joaquín Nin and the classically trained singer Rosa Culmell. Nin spent her early years in Spain and Cuba, about sixteen years in Paris (1924–1940), and the remaining half of her life in the United States, where she became an established author.

Henry Miller American novelist (1891–1980)

Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist. He broke with existing literary forms and developed a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, stream of consciousness, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

<i>Tropic of Cancer</i> (novel) 1934 novel by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer is a novel by Henry Miller that has been described as "notorious for its candid sexuality" and as responsible for the "free speech that we now take for granted in literature." It was first published in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France, but this edition was banned in the United States. Its publication in 1961 in the U.S. by Grove Press led to obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography in the early 1960s. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the book non-obscene. It is regarded as an important work of 20th-century literature.

<i>Tropic of Capricorn</i> (novel) 1939 novel by Henry Miller

Tropic of Capricorn is a semi-autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, first published by Obelisk Press in Paris in 1939. A prequel of sorts to Miller's first published novel, 1934's Tropic of Cancer, it was banned in the United States until a 1961 Justice Department ruling declared that its contents were not obscene.

<i>House of Incest</i>

House of Incest is a slim volume of 72 pages written by Anaïs Nin. Originally published in 1936, it is Anaïs Nin's first work of fiction. But unlike her diaries and erotica, House of Incest does not detail the author's relationships with famous lovers like Henry Miller, nor does it contain graphic depiction of sex. Rather, House of Incest is a surrealistic look within the narrator's subconscious mind as she attempts to escape from a dream in which she is trapped, or in Nin's words, as she attempts to escape from "the woman's season in hell."

<i>The Diary of Anaïs Nin</i> Book by Anaïs Nin

The Diary of Anaïs Nin is the published version of Anaïs Nin's own private manuscript diary, which she began at age 11 in 1914 during a trip from Europe to New York with her mother and two brothers. Nin would later say she had begun the diary as a letter to her father, Cuban composer Joaquín Nin, who had abandoned the family a few years earlier.

<i>Henry and June</i>

Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin is a 1986 book that is based upon material excerpted from the unpublished diaries of Anaïs Nin. It corresponds temporally to the first volume of Nin's published diaries, written between October 1931 and October 1932, yet is radically different, in that that book begins with a description of the landscape of and around her home and never mentions her husband, whereas Henry and June begins with discussion of Nin's sex life and is full of her struggles and passionate relationship with husband Hugo, and then, as the novel/memoir progresses, other lovers.

<i>Henry & June</i> 1990 film by Philip Kaufman

Henry & June is a 1990 American biographical drama film directed by Philip Kaufman, and starring Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, and Maria de Medeiros. It is loosely based on the posthumously published 1986 Anaïs Nin book of the same name, and tells the story of Nin's relationship with Henry Miller and his wife, June.

Winter of Artifice, published in 1939, is Anaïs Nin's second published book, containing subsequently alternating novelettes.

<i>Incest: From a Journal of Love</i>

Incest: From a Journal of Love: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1932–1934) is a 1992 non-fiction book by Anaïs Nin. It is a continuation of the diary entries first published in Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin. It features Nin's relationships with writer Henry Miller, his wife June Miller, the psychoanalyst Otto Rank, her father Joaquín Nin, and her husband Hugh Parker Guiler. She also copied some of her correspondence with these people into her diary. Much of this book was written in English, although those of her letters which were originally written in French and Spanish were translated. Most of this diary takes place in France, particularly Clichy, Paris and Louveciennes.

<i>The Rosy Crucifixion</i>

The Rosy Crucifixion, a trilogy consisting of Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, is a fictionalized account documenting the six-year period of Henry Miller's life in Brooklyn as he falls for his second wife June and struggles to become a writer, leading up to his initial departure for Paris in 1928. The title comes from a sentence near the end of Miller's Tropic of Capricorn: "All my Calvaries were rosy crucifixions, pseudo-tragedies to keep the fires of hell burning brightly for the real sinners who are in danger of being forgotten."

Joaquín Nin

Joaquín Nin y Castellanos was a Cuban pianist and composer. Nin was the father of Anaïs Nin.

Ian Hugo

Hugh Parker Guiler, also known as Ian Hugo, was Anaïs Nin's husband from 1923 until her death in 1977, and a skilled engraver and filmmaker in his own right.

<i>Fire: From a Journal of Love</i>

Fire: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin is a 1995 book that is based on material excerpted from the unpublished diaries of Anais Nin. It corresponds temporally to part of Anaïs Nin's published diaries, but consists mostly of material about her love life that was too sensitive or secret to publish in her lifetime or in that of others involved.

<i>Nearer the Moon</i>

Nearer the Moon: From a Journal of Love is a 1996 book based upon material excerpted from the unpublished diaries of Anaïs Nin. It corresponds temporally to part of Nin's published diaries. It consists mainly of material that was left out of the published version because it would have hurt people involved or their relationships with Anaïs Nin had it been published at the time.

<i>Quiet Days in Clichy</i> (novel)

Quiet Days in Clichy is a novella written by Henry Miller. It is based on his experience as a Parisian expatriate in the early 1930s, when he and Alfred Perlès shared a small apartment in suburban Clichy as struggling writers. It takes place around the time Miller was writing Black Spring. According to his photographer friend George Brassaï, Miller admitted the title is “completely misleading.”

<i>Moloch: or, This Gentile World</i>

Moloch: or, This Gentile World is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Henry Miller in 1927-28, initially under the guise of a novel written by his wife, June. The book went unpublished until 1992, 65 years after it was written and 12 years after Miller's death. It is widely considered to be of interest more as a study of Miller's artistic growth than as a worthy piece of fiction.

The following is a bibliography of Henry Miller by category.

<i>Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch</i>

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1957, about his life in Big Sur, California, where he resided for 18 years.

<i>The Air-Conditioned Nightmare</i>

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1945, about his year-long road trip across the United States in 1939, following his return from nearly a decade living in Paris.

References

  1. Mary V. Dearborn's 1991 biography, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, p. 80, gives June Miller's birthday as January 7, 1902; Robert Ferguson's biography from the same year, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 78, gives her birthday as January 28, 1902.
  2. "June Miller," Griceland, September 11, 2012.
  3. Mary V. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp. 79-80.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Kenneth C. Dick, Henry Miller: Colossus of One, Alberts-Sittard, 1967, pp. 159-217.
  5. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 87.
  6. "The Real Jean Kronski?" Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company: A Henry Miller Blog, July 23, 2006.
  7. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 102-17.
  8. Robert Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991, pp. 156-58.
  9. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 119.
  10. Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 355.
  11. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 174.
  12. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 160-61.
  13. 1 2 Arthur Hoyle, The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2014, pp. 137-38, 223-25, 266.
  14. Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 310.
  15. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive, p. 280.
  16. "June's Arizona Grave" Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company: A Henry Miller Blog, October 13, 2008.