Arthur Miller’s Roxbury writing studio: Arthur Miller had this studio built when he moved houses on Tophet Road in Roxbury, Connecticut in the spring of 1958. He noted in his journal: “(First day in studio July 23/58.)” It was designed as a small space and then expanded slightly in the mid-1970s, with a back deck added as well. Here he wrote and revised plays, stories, essays, poems and his autobiography Timebends. (A complete list of his works spanning 1958 to 2005 is here.) The studio stands as an outward manifestation of Arthur’s private writing life – the one place where he could explore anything, aloud or in silence, with the narrow brook running below and the trees growing round.
We live most of the time in the country. Arthur is a hands-on man, he knows his tools and how to repair machinery which still is a source of endless astonishment to me, having been brought up in Europe where most intellectuals have a rather distant relationship to this kind of stuff. His mornings are dedicated to writing. He spends many hours in the small studio built mostly by himself on a hill near the house. Nothing disturbs him there, not even the view.
In the afternoons work on the land or in the carpentry shop takes over; in the late afternoons and evenings, reading, music, dinners with friends.
Inge Morath’s photographs of the studio’s interior include Arthur at his desk, and with director Elia Kazan and producer Robert Whitehead (After the Fall). Inge’s colleague and friend Kurt Kaindl also documented Arthur’s studio in later years.
Every morning, Miller would walk up the slope from his Connecticut house to his studio where his imagination would be distilled into words that he himself would first speak aloud, with no audience beyond the racoons and birds in the woods beyond, before those same words would later be spoken on stages across the world. This is where he filed away ideas, drafts, images, only for them to emerge years later, as time had done its work, and he suddenly saw how they could open a world he could populate with characters whose fate not only he would care about. I am not saying that if you stand there today you will hear their voices, but you will be where the magic occurred, where, a carpenter, he fashioned his desk from an old door as he once made the bed in which he slept and the table at which his family dined. Some places have echoes if you listen carefully enough.
—Christopher Bigsby, emeritus professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia
A Note on Arthur’s studio
Arthur’s writing studio was a place of solitude and true quiet. He would walk up the grassy slope from the house after breakfast and work all morning. Later in the afternoon, he might garden with Inge or work in the yard or woods, pruning back or cutting trees. He might return to his studio, write in his journal, type a letter, or take a short nap on the daybed.
In the 1950s and 60s, he often wrote by hand in his notebooks and journals here. He also used a Royal typewriter for writing play drafts and scripts, later an electric typewriter, followed by an early personal computer and then a laptop. At some point a telephone was installed in the studio, as well as an intercom (which also connected from the house to the barn, where Arthur had his wood shop and Inge her studio spaces and darkroom).
Arthur made his first desk from a wooden door. He added a large desk with drawers after he expanded the studio structure. He made the third desk from heavy plywood to hold his early computer equipment and printer; he added a typewriter stand too. The desk chairs reflect different eras as well – from a faded pink 1950s molded fiberglass chair to a fabric-covered swivel office chair added in the late 1990s.
For almost fifty years Arthur kept everything in the studio filing cabinets that he was still working on or that he might return to. And he kept all his journals, his earliest letters and some of his earliest unpublished play scripts here too: the studio files housed the core of his unpublished archive. Black and white speckled school notebooks from the 1940s, spiral bound notebooks from the 1950s and 60s, overflowing loose-leaf binders of typed sheets from the 1970s and 80s, and 1990s binders of printed word processing files. From the first letter he wrote from college in 1934, saved by his mother, to the laser-printed journal pages of the early 2000’s – Arthur saved his most essential materials in this one place.
On the shelves he kept reference books for specific plays and project, volumes from the house library, and books he had carried with him from earlier places. Whatever he was reading at the moment might also land on those shelves. In later years he began keeping printed records of his (now) digital journals, bound in black binders, on those same shelves.
Arthur saw his journal writing as the one thing to which he devoted more of his writing life than any other single work. It was the one place everything fit. The studio itself stands as an outward manifestation of Arthur’s private writing life – the one place everything fit – where he could explore anything, aloud or in silence, with the narrow brook running below and the trees growing round.
(Julia Bolus, 2018)