On this day in 1905 Arthur George Miller was born in Chelsea. As is well known, he was the inspiration behind many of John Ireland’s works, including On a Birthday Morning (1922), Prelude for piano (1924) and ‘When I am dead, my dearest’, inscribed to him in Cerne Abbas in June 1925. There are several 0ther dedications across the 1920s (see the John Ireland Companion).
What do we know about Arthur Miller?
- He was born on 22 February 1905 at 44 Westmoreland Road, Paddington.
- He was brought up in a family of antique furniture dealers, his father Arthur Willie Miller (who also worked as a picture framer), his mother Maud Major.
- He had two sisters, Ruby and Rene, and a brother, Charles.
- He joined St Luke’s choir, coming under the wing of the composer, and knew some of the other choristers, including Charlie Markes.
- He ran his own antique shop at 220 King’s Road.
- At the age of 22, on 26 June 1927, he married Emmeline Orriss, daughter of a police constable. They had one daughter, Joan.
- In 1933 he was now based at 243 King’s Road.
- From 1935 there are no further entries in the Post Office London Directory.
- In 1938 his new business is based in Kent, at 77 High Street, Folkestone.
- He remarried in 1940, his second wife a Danish woman, Margrethe Larsen (Rita).
- With Rita he had four children, Valerie, Pat, John and Clive.
- During the Second World War he worked as a policeman.
- He, like Ireland, had alcohol problems.
- From 1947 he is listed as a furniture dealer in Folkestone, his home address 69 Brockman Road.
- In 1949 he is still in contact with Ireland (Jack), thanking him for financial assistance, but also asking for further help.
- In the same year he was put on the payroll of the P&O, sailing to Singapore and on to Australia.
- He had money problems for many years, and was often helped out by the composer, long after their intense friendship of the 1920s had ended.
- He moved to Brighton c. 1970 and died in 1982.
In the narrative of Ireland’s life and works Miller is one of the most important figures, lying behind works that cover a wide range of sentiments, from the gaiety of Bergomask (1925) to the sombre ‘We’ll to the woods no more’ (1927).