He wore this robe until the last days of his life. He gave it to me just before he went to Heaven w/ the Angels. When I wrote my best-seller, Secrets of Seduction, I would wear this memorable robe around my shoulders & gaze upon the picture that sits above my computer of Henry & the roses for inspiration.
During the final four years of his life, Henry Miller wrote over 1,500 love letters (over 4,000 pages!) to his muse, a beautiful Native American actress named Brenda Venus. Originally published by Morrow in 1986 – six years after Miller’s death – the voluminous correspondence was edited into an approximately 200-page book, with commentary by Venus. When it came out, the book received rave reviews, including a sensitive, insightful analysis by Noel Young in the Los Angeles Times.
Here is an excerpt:
Henry Miller’s death in 1980 brought an end to one of the most extraordinary romances ever conceived, coming as it did from the impassioned mind of a man nearly 90, admittedly a physical ruin, and the good graces of a young actress, aptly named Brenda Venus, in the prime of her life. For Miller, it was love at first sight, kindling an ardor that kept him alive for four more years. He did what he did best – he wrote; and he laid it all on the line in more than 1,000 letters from which this volume is drawn.
An ordinary man, blind in one eye and partially paralyzed, might have taken to bed and wasted away, but not Henry Miller. Instead, he fell hopelessly, shamelessly in love and spilled it out in letters to his dear Brenda, wallowing in a euphoria that lasted to his end. He worked himself into a lather, at least on paper, and lived for those Thursday nights when she appeared at his door, took him by his arm and drove him to dinner at his favorite Japanese restaurant in the Hollywood Hills. One stormy night, to spare him hobbling through the puddles in the parking lot, she simply picked him up and carried him upstairs to the entrance. He accepted this with aplomb and a jaunty smile.
Henry Miller was jubilant to share his knowledge with me. During the last four years of his life, he would find first edition books that he had read and loved during his lifetime which were still available either from England, Europe, or Asia and send them to my home. A letter would arrive daily… accompanied by a book or boxes of books, flowers or a special token of his affection. Here are a few of the many books that he had sent for my education and for your viewing pleasure. Since I had not read many of them, previously, they were a sheer delight. When I had finished, we would meet for dinner and talk about the story, characters and how tender, masterfully written or exciting each book had been. He reread many of his favorites. And when he touched a book, it was exquisite watching the relish, the wonder and respect with which he gave to each page that he touched. It was almost like watching a man make love to the woman he loved. Glorious!
“Miller himself had lots to tell me about Brenda Venus, and never a day passed without him scribbling a message to her. The thought of her was omnipresent. He does not exaggerate when he says she is literally keeping him alive, indeed, her generosity and tact allowed him to end his days in a marvellous euphoria of loving attachment. This correspondence is the fruit of that deep “affair of the heart” — the phrase comes aptly enough because given his age and the precarious state of his health it could hardly have been anything else. He was, as he himself writes, a physical ruin. Then when the young actress strayed into his life a wind stirred the embers of Mona, of June, Betty Anais — and he once more became the young lover and renegade of his early books. What luck!
The role of Brenda Venus will keep its interest and importance also as a memorial of his last great attachment — and Ariel to his Prospero, one might say. She enabled him to dominate his infirmities and to experience all the joys of Paradise. How grateful we all are for her kindness and loving insight!” — Lawrence Durrell (Nobel Laureate)
Henry Miller wrote this 1978 letter to me after I had asked him many questions about his love affair with 2nd wife, June. She was the 1 & only true love of his life… June inspired him to be the great writer he became while living in Paris.
This original 2-page intimate letter is revealing, inspiring, and sensual in content. Miller’s rhythmic pattern of repetitive descriptions with mixed metaphors remain crisp and exciting. Insight, carefully delivered at the price of sexual distraction. No one has ever or could ever do it better! What a master! That’s HENRY MILLER!
His character development is precise. The story is pushed along by delightful detail, with the interjection of vague interludes and intense innuendo. You have to love the way Henry uses acts and words. It’s like a little acid sprinkled on an open wound in passing. Or… the delicacy and aplomb of a Walt Whitman or Lord Bryon. As much said by the unsaid and said by the saying…like a fine bouquet, it’s intoxicating!
Henry Miller presented this special medallion to me with a story of Cabeza de Vaca’s journey. He said that de Vaca, a Spanish explorer, who was born about 1490 in Jerez de la Frontera, had developed sympathies for the indigenous population during the misfortune of losing his men, ship & later lost their hand-made boats in a hurricane. When he finally landed on American soil he became a trader, which allowed him freedom to travel among the Indian tribes.
Henry said, “To PAINT is to LOVE again,” as he expressed in the watercolors. Living life to the fullest, writing and painting gave him the greatest joy and it translates onto the canvas. His paintings are child-like in the fashion of Picasso, Chagall and Miro. Miller often quoted Rabelais: FOR ALL YOUR ILLS I GIVE YOU LAUGHTER! It is a piece of the highest wisdom. Enjoy this limited body of work!