A perspective by Valentine Miller

Henry V. Miller was born December 26, 1891 in Yorkville, NYC. His parents were from Germany, his mother from the north, his father from Bavaria. He lived in Brooklyn during his school years. Tried working in his father’s tailor shop, here he developed his love of fine clothes. He was always a dapper dresser. His life is chronicled both by himself through his books & by his fellow authors. I think his life was remarkable in so many ways. He had to fight mediocrity and poverty, working at many mundane jobs. He started to write in his 30’s, late for a writer. When he discovered Europe, particularly Paris, he became friends with writers like Anais Nin, Alfred Perles, Lawrence Durrell. In the 1930’s he wrote & published “Tropic of Cancer”, “Black Spring”, “Aller Retour New York”, & “Tropic of Capricorn”. The floodgates were open, he was a WRITER…

A young Henry Miller
with his parents and
his sister Lauretta.

Dad lived in France, Greece, NYC, Beverly Glen, Big Sur & Pacific Palisades. He was a prolific writer, disciplined & driven to create. Painting watercolors was his way to relax, he didn’t consider himself an ‘artist’ but loved to paint. He made thousands of paintings, gave most of them away. He also learned how to etch & make silk screens. Nuns from The Immaculate Heart School came to the house in LA & taught him how to make the silk screens.

Dad balanced the cerebral with the physical. He loved riding bicycles, he would ride out to Coney Island and he raced in the Velodrome. He was still riding in his 70’s in the Palisades. He was a great walker, walking all over New York and the wonderful arrondisements of Paris. In Big Sur he would trek down the road to get the mail & groceries, hauling it back up the hill. My brother & I would run to his studio in the afternoons, Dad was always happy to take us up in the hills for long walks. Sometimes he told us stories, one I recall about a little rich girl who lived in the city, a fantasy which fascinated us, being country kids.

I only knew my Dad for 35 years, the last third of his life. But am so fortunate to have the legacy he created. In my home I am surrounded by his wonderful paintings, they are a pleasure to look at. His books are an endless source of knowledge and enjoyment in self discovery. One can open to any page & find some phrase or passage that rings true. Even his book titles are inspiring, he definitely had a way with words - “Stand Still Like The Hummingbird”, “The Devil in Paradise”, “Remember to Remember”, “The Wisdom of the Heart”, “The Air Conditioned Nightmare”, “The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder”.

Dinner conversations were always lively. There was a constant stream of friends and fans, also the women who would come to the Ocampo house & prepare special meals for Dad. I liked it when just the two of us could talk, Dad would recommend the latest authors he was reading, or writers he thought I might like. His taste in literature was eclectic, from obscure Marie Corelli to Knut Hamsun, Hermann Hesse to H Rider Haggard. He gave me the Modern Library collection of authors whom he admired, Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Carson McCuller… He loved Walt Whitman, Nostradamus, M Proust, Rimbaud, Balzac, Stendahl… He had a great memory & could pull favorite passages out of the air. His “Books in my Life” is a good read & source of novels & authors. My admiration, respect and love for my father grows as the years go by.

Your daughter,