Arthur Miller – American Witness

‘John Lahr treats his subject with clarity and charity. His cogent analyses are revelatory but not surgical, and his sympathy never cloys. He does what a good literary biographer must do: He does not reduce the work to the life, but shows how it explains the life from which it emerges. He is an investigative reporter, a profiler of personality, mind and character, and a critic who understands drama on the page and in the house.’
– Wall Street Journal

‘New Yorker critic John Lahr shines in this searching account of the playwright Arthur Miller….It’s a great introduction to a giant of American letters.’
Publisher’s Weekly

‘In this succinct and gorgeously written portrait, the former New Yorker critic and award-winning biographer of Tennessee Williams offers a keen psychological appraisal of Miller’s work, and Miller himself.’
– Boston Globe

Below:  John Lahr and Nicholas Hytner discuss American Witness on Jewish Book Week videos.

Transcript of the discussion here.

‘No one writes about playwrights and the theater the way John Lahr does. In this probing, brilliantly insightful, and also deeply readable and entertaining book, he offers unique insight into how Miller’s mind works, and how the details of his biography impacted his body of work.’
– Sarah Ruhl, MacArthur Prizewinning playwright

‘In “Arthur Miller”, the great critic and biographer John Lahr has found a perfect subject: complex, gifted, a man of his times. This is biography-as-collaboration, and utterly captivating.’
– Hilton Als, Pulitzer Prize–winning essayist and author

‘Lahr lets us see the great American playwright with new eyes.  No one writes more perceptively about the twentieth century theater than John Lahr.  After his highly acclaimed Tennessee Williams biography, Lahr scores a second smash hit with “Arthur Miller”.’
– John Guare, author of Six Degrees of Separation; The House of Blue Leaves.

‘A superbly written, impeccably researched biography from the great John Lahr. The close relationship between  Miller and his plays is detailed and sympathetic. A classic book about a classic American playwright.’
– André Bishop, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater

John Lahr’s latest book Arthur Miller – American Witness was published by Yale University Press in November 2022

Book talk with John  Lahr on American Witness.

John Lahr’s Diary of a Somebody plays at the Seven Dials Theatre in London, 22 March – 30 April 2022.

The year is 1966. A shabby bedsit in Angel. Joe Orton, who lives with his lover Kenneth Halliwell, is becoming the most successful young playwright in Britain. His West End hit Loot is voted Play of the Year. His work is adapted for TV. The Beatles demand that he write their new movie.

‘A class act all the way…Sometimes uproariously funny, and ultimately unsettling…A most welcome revival.’
– The Times

‘Stunning drama from Joe Orton’s Journal..Halliwell insisted in his suicide note that his partner’s diaries would explain all. They didn’t. This production, however, comes closer.’
– The Guardian

More details and buy tickets here.

Tennessee Williams – Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, follows Lahr’s other ground-breaking theatre biographies to give intimate access to the mind of one of the greatest American playwrights of the twentieth century. Williams’s work ushered in – as Arthur Miller declared – ‘a revolution’ in American theatre. Williams put his best self – and most… Continue Reading

Joy Ride

John Lahr’s most recent book JOY RIDE will feature many of his very best New Yorker profiles and reviews. Published by Norton (US) and Bloomsbury (UK). Joy Ride throws open the stage door and introduces readers to such makers of contemporary drama as Arthur Miller, Tony Kushner, Wallace Shawn, Harold Pinter, David Rabe, David Mamet,… Continue Reading

New award for John Lahr

John Lahr was recently awarded The National Arts Club Medal of Honour for Achievement in the Theatrical Arts, the first critic ever to win the award which has been given in the past to such luminaries as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lin Manuel-Miranda. Continue Reading

John Lahr wins eighth annual Sheridan Morley Prize for MAD PILGRIMAGE OF THE FLESH

John Lahr has won the eighth annual Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography for Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. The book was described at the prizegiving ceremony by panel member Michael Simkins as the “definitive biography” of Tennessee Williams. John Lahr said, “You don’t write books for prizes, but it’s amazing how thrilling it… Continue Reading article on John Lahr and MAD PILGRIMAGE OF THE FLESH

With Tennessee Williams biography, theater critic John Lahr sheds new light on a familiar legend. Click here to read the article. Continue Reading


March 2015: John Lahr has just been named winner of the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for best biography, and winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award for recognition of “the quality of prose style” for his recent biography of Tennessee Williams Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. Continue Reading

New book – JOY RIDE

John Lahr’s latest book JOY RIDE, including his very best New Yorker profiles and reviews, will be published by Norton (US) and Bloomsbury (UK) in September. Stay tuned for further details… ‘John Lahr writes ­ beautifully ­ about the theatre and those who make it with an unrivalled blend of enthusiasm, perception and analytical precision. This book… Continue Reading

New nomination for Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, has been nominated as a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award. More details… Continue Reading

More press acclaim for John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams biography

Tennessee Wiiliams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh has been picked amongst the best books of the year in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Financial Times, the Kirkus Service and Publishers Weekly Continue Reading