Arthur Asher Miller is born in Manhattan. He is the second son of Augusta and Isidore Miller, both Jewish immigrants from Poland. Isidore's business—S. Miller & Sons—is prosperous enough that the family can afford a sixth-floor apartment overlooking Central Park. Isidore rides a chauffeured car to work every morning.
The stock market crashes. Isidore Miller, who has invested extensively in stocks, takes a hard hit in the subsequent Depression. Within two years, Miller is forced to give up his business and the family moves from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Arthur Miller graduates from Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School and begins work in an auto-parts warehouse in order to save money for college. He also attends New York City College night classes for a few weeks, but drops out when he is unable to keep up with both school and work.
Miller enrolls in the University of Michigan after having been denied admission twice before due to his poor grades in high school. Miller works as a reporter and night editor for the university newspaper, the Michigan Daily.
Miller receives the Hopwood Award for his first play, No Villain, and uses the prize money to help pay tuition. A revised version entitled They Too Arise wins him a $1,250 scholarship from the Theater Guild's Bureau of New Plays the following year.
Miller wins a second Hopwood Award for his play Honors at Dawn. Miller's third entry to the Hopwood Committee, a dramatic critique of prison conditions called The Great Disobedience, receives second place recognition.
Miller graduates from college and finds work writing radio plays for the Federal Theater Project in New York City. Two years later, the U.S. government cuts the Depression-era program after critics assail its leftist political leanings. An unemployed Miller accepts federal assistance.
Miller marries his college sweetheart, a Catholic woman named Mary Grace Slattery. Miller is unable to find a producer interested in his plays, The Half Bridge and The Golden Years. Slattery supports them both through her work as a waitress and an editor.
As the United States mobilizes to fight World War II, Miller begins work as a ship fitter's helper in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, choosing to work nights in order to write during the daytime.
Miller finds work as a screenwriter for a war film, The Story of G.I. Joe, and quits his job in the Navy Yard. Frustrated with his employers and their lack of acknowledgement for his work, Miller eventually quits the job.
Miller's play The Man Who Had All the Luck receives the Theater Guild National Award and opens on Broadway. Despite the award, the play bombs with the public and closes after only four performances. Disheartened with his repeated failures in New York, Miller considers quitting writing. In the same year Mary Slattery gives birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Jane.
Miller's play All My Sons, based on a true story about a man who sold faulty machine parts to the U.S. military during World War II, becomes an instant hit. The play wins two Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and is rated one of the ten best plays of 1947. In the same year, Miller's son Robert is born.
Death of a Salesman opens to huge acclaim on Broadway. The play wins the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the Tony.
Miller meets actress Marilyn Monroe and they have a brief affair.
The Crucible opens on Broadway. The play's setting in the Salem Witch Trials provides an allegory for Senator Joseph McCarthy's ongoing persecution of suspected communists, a process that disgusts Miller.
Miller produces two new moderately successful plays, A Memory of Two Mondays and A View from the Bridge. A View from the Bridge is based on the same story as Elia Kazan's Oscar-winning film On the Waterfront.
Miller divorces his first wife and marries Marilyn Monroe. Shortly after the marriage, Miller—who has attended party meetings, but never been a member of the Communist party—is called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify. Committee chairman Francis Waters privately offers to let Miller off if he agrees to have Monroe pose with Walters for a campaign poster. Miller refuses and is questioned about his involvement with communist activities and probed for the names of other communists. Despite the pressure, Miller refuses to name names.
A judge finds Miller guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to name other alleged communists during his 1956 HUAC testimony.
After a lengthy appeals trial, a judge overturns Miller's contempt conviction.
The Misfits, a movie written by Miller and starring Monroe, premieres. Shortly afterward, the couple divorces. Monroe dies of a drug overdose nineteen months later.
Miller marries Austrian-born photographer Inge Morath, whom he met on the set of The Misfits. In September, Morath gives birth to their daughter Rebecca.
Miller writes Incident at Vichy and After the Fall, two plays about the Holocaust. Critics assail After the Fall, calling it indulgent and exploitative of Marilyn Monroe's recent death. Miller denies any intentional similarity between the play's character and his former wife.
Miller is elected president of PEN, an international literary organization that advocates for a free press and against censorship and oppression of writers.
Miller's son Daniel is born with Down Syndrome and his parents decide to commit him to an institution.
The Price, a play about two brothers dealing with the death of their father, premieres. Miller's own father died in 1966. The Price is Miller's last major Broadway success.
After receiving lackluster reviews at its 1977 American premiere, The Archbishop's Ceiling opens to great acclaim in England and marks the beginning of a revival of Miller's work in that country. The play's themes reflect Miller's advocacy on behalf of censored writers in the Soviet bloc.
Miller publishes his autobiography, Timebends. He also releases two plays, I Can't Remember Anything and Clara, both preoccupied with the themes of memory and remembrance.
Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, a distinctly political play about the Reagan years, premieres in England.
Broken Glass, a play about the Nazis' 1938 Kristallnacht attack against civilian Jews and their property, premieres.
Inge Morath, Miller's wife of forty years, dies of lymphatic cancer.
Arthur Miller dies at the age of 89 at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut.