June Miller  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

June Mansfield Miller (b. January 12 1902, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary – d. February 1979, Arizona) was the much written about and discussed second wife of Henry Miller.

Contents

Early life

She was born as either Juliet Smerth or Juliet Smerdt, the daughter of Wilhelm and Frances Budd Smerth. She emigrated with her family to the United States and arrived in the United States on July 10 1907, aged five.

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

She attended public school in New York. In Sexus, Henry Miller writes that June claimed she graduated from Wellesley College, but later in the Rosy Crucifixion he writes that she never finished high school. Kenneth Dick, after interviewing June, quotes her 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." Somewhere around 1917-1919, she went to work as a taxi dancer at Wilson's Dancing Academy (later, in 1931, renamed the Orpheum Dance Palace) in Times Square.

Life with Henry Miller

In 1923 at Wilson's she met Henry Miller when she was 21 and he was 31. Henry Miller left his first wife to marry June in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 24 1924.

In October 1926 ([1]) Jean Kronski, an artist and poet, moved in with them. June, who was bisexual, cultivated a very close relationship with Jean, often preferring Jean's affections to Henry's. This phase of her relationship with Jean is the central piece of Henry's autobiographical fictional novel Crazy Cock.

This living arrangement soon fell apart and Jean and June left for Paris together in April 1927. However, two months later they started to quarrel, and June returned to Henry in July. They subsequently left for a tour of Europe, settling in Paris.

In 1931, June met writer Anaïs Nin, who quickly became obsessed with her and, just as Henry Miller did, used her as a biographical archetype in many of her subsequent writings. June and Nin became involved in a lesbian affair, and June later figured prominently into Incest and her diaries, which the movie Henry and June was based upon ([2]).

Later life

June and Henry divorced by proxy in Mexico in 1934.

After divorcing Miller she married Stratford Corbett (probably) in 1935, who worked either for the New York Life Insurance Company or as a public relations officer for the U.S. Government, neither has been confirmed. Stratford left her in 1947 for the actress Rita La Roy Corbett. Her life deteriorated at this point and she 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.

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 1961 she met Miller again; he was shocked at her deterioration, and the two never rekindled their relationship.

In the late 1960s, June moved to Arizona with one of her brothers, where she is believed to be buried, but no location has been confirmed.

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 her former lover Nin.

References





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "June Miller" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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