Everyone in Big Sur has a cool answer to the question, “How did you get here?”
For Magnus it was a freak motorcyle accident (long story). For our friend Dave, it was a “help wanted” sign he saw after checking out of his campsite at Fernwood.
So what about Henry? We all know that Henry called Big Sur home for roughly 20 years, but how did he get here?
The short answer? He wrote a letter. The long answer? Read on!
In 1940, Miller returned to New York; after a year-long trip around the United States, a journey that would become material for The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, he moved to California in June 1942, initially residing just outside Hollywood in Beverly Glen, before settling in Big Sur in 1944, calling the area “the face of the Earth as the creator intended it to look.”
In December 1943, The New Republic published an open letter from Miller complaining that James Laughlin, the editor at New Directions, had failed to publish his banned books in the states. This letter was read by fellow artist, the sculptor Jean Varda, (pictured with Henry) who promptly invited Miller to come stay with him in Monterey.
One day Vada drove Miller down to Big Sur to meet Lynda Sargent, a friend of Varda who was writing a novel. She lived in a cabin overlooking the sea. The cabin had an open room and she offered it to Henry. He accepted the offer.
“The Henry Miller Library guarantees all guests the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. It is not the proper role of the Library to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. There are many books and stories to read, to write, to tell, and to listen to.”