Lillian May Miller (1895-1943)

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An accomplished painter, woodblock printmaker and poet, Lillian May Miller (July 20, 1895 - January 11, 1943) was born in Japan while her parents were involved in diplomatic service. In 1909, her father was transferred back to Washington, DC. She attended Western High School, studied at Vassar College (where she was a classmate of the famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay), graduating in 1917 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

After graduation Miller lived in Seoul, Korea, where her father was the American Consul General. In 1918 she returned to DC to work in the Division of Political Affairs at the State Department in Washington, DC. In 1919 she returned alone to Japan to begin artistic studies with Shimada Bokusen. By 1922, she had produced more than 6,000 prints and was featured in a number of newspaper articles in Japan and the United States. Her Tokyo studio, including all of her woodblocks along with the printing shop where her book was being printed, were destroyed in the Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The collection of poetry and ukiyo-e prints, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden was finally published in 1927.

Miller remained in Japan with brief periods in the San Francisco Bay area. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 she moved back to DC to work in the Navy's counter-propaganda branch as a Japanese Research Analyst. She lived at 1458 Columbia Rd. NW, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

She died of cancer in 1943.

DC Writers' Homes:

Submitted by Kim Roberts, July 2018

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