Walter M. Miller, Jr

Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Born Walter Michael Miller, Jr.
(1923-01-23)January 23, 1923
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Died January 9, 1996(1996-01-09) (aged 72)
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Language English
Nationality American
Notable work(s) A Canticle for Leibowitz
Notable award(s) Hugo Award for Best Novelette (1955)
Hugo Award for Best Novel (1961)
Spouse(s) Anna Louise Becker (1945-1995)
Children 4

Walter Michael Miller, Jr. (January 23, 1923 – January 9, 1996) was an American science fiction author. Today he is primarily known for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Prior to its publication he was a prolific writer of short stories.


Miller was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Educated at the University of Tennessee and the University of Texas, he worked as an engineer. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a radioman and tail gunner, flying more than fifty bombing missions over Italy. He took part in the bombing of the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino, which proved a traumatic experience for him. Joe Haldeman reported that Miller "has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for 30 years before it had a name," and that Miller displayed a photograph he had taken of Ron Kovic prominently in his living room.[1]

After the war, Miller converted to Catholicism. He married Anna Louise Becker in 1945, and they had four children. He lived with science-fiction writer Judith Merril in 1953.


Between 1951 and 1957, Miller published over three dozen science fiction short stories, winning a Hugo Award in 1955 for the story "The Darfsteller". He also wrote scripts for the television show Captain Video in 1953.[2] Late in the 1950s, Miller assembled a novel from three closely related novellas he had published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1955, 1956 and 1957. The novel, entitled A Canticle for Leibowitz, was published in 1959.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic (post-nuclear holocaust) novel revolving around the canonisation of Saint Leibowitz and is considered a masterpiece of the genre. It won the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The novel is also a powerful meditation on the cycles of world history and Roman Catholicism as a force of stability during history's dark times.

After the success of A Canticle For Leibowitz, Miller never published another new novel or story in his lifetime, although several compilations of Miller's earlier stories were issued in the 1960s and 1970s. As well, a radio adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz was produced by WHA Radio and NPR in 1981 and is available on CD.

Later years

In Miller's later years, he became a recluse, avoiding contact with nearly everyone, including family members; he never allowed his literary agent, Don Congdon, to meet him. According to science fiction writer Terry Bisson, Miller struggled with depression during his later years, but had managed to nearly complete a 600-page manuscript for the sequel to Canticle before taking his own life with a gun in January 1996, shortly after his wife's death.[1][3] The sequel, titled Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, was completed by Bisson and published in 1997.

Writings by Miller



  • Conditionally Human (1962) 3 stories
  • The View from the Stars (1965) 9 stories
  • The Science Fiction Stories of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1977) - omnibus of Conditionally Human and The View from the Stars
  • The Best of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1980) - omnibus of Conditionally Human and The View from the Stars plus two added stories, The Lineman and Vengeance for Nikolai
  • Conditionally Human and Other Stories (1982) - 6 stories from the 1980 omnibus
  • The Darfstellar and Other Stories (1982) - the remaining 8 stories from the 1980 omnibus

Short stories

(** stories collected in Miller collections)

  • MacDoughal's Wife (in American Mercury March 1950; not SF)
  • Month of Mary (in Extension Magazine May 1950; not SF)
  • Dark Benediction (story) (1951) **
  • Izzard and the Membrane (1951)
  • The Little Creeps (1951)
  • Secret of the Death Dome (1951)
  • The Song of Vorhu (1951)
  • The Soul-Empty Ones (1951)
  • The Space Witch (1951)
  • The Big Hunger (1952) **
  • Big Joe and the Nth Generation (1952) [aka It Takes a Thief] **
  • Bitter Victory (1952)
  • Blood Bank (1952) **
  • Cold Awakening (1952)
  • Command Performance (1952) [aka Anybody Else Like Me?] **
  • Conditionally Human (1952) **
  • Dumb Waiter (1952) **
  • Gravesong (1952)
  • Let My People Go (1952)
  • No Moon for Me (1952)
  • The Big Hunger (1952)
  • The Reluctant Traitor (1952)
  • Please Me Plus Three (1952) [in Other Worlds Science Stories August 1952]
  • Six and Ten Are Johnny (1952)
  • Crucifixus Etiam (1953) [aka The Sower Does Not Reap] **
  • I, Dreamer (1953) **
  • The Yokel (1953)
  • Wolf Pack (1953)
  • Death of a Spaceman (1954) [aka Memento Homo]
  • I Made You (1954)
  • The Ties that Bind (1954)
  • The Will (1954) **
  • Way of a Rebel (1954)
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz (1955)) (aka The First Canticle) [rev into A Canticle for Leibowitz as Fiat Homo] **
  • The Darfsteller (1955) **
  • The Hoofer (1955)
  • The Triflin' Man (1955) [aka You Triflin' Skunk!] **
  • And the Light is Risen (1956) [rev into A Canticle for Leibowitz as Fiat Lux] **
  • The Last Canticle (1957) [rev into A Canticle for Leibowitz as Fiat Voluntas Tua **
  • The Lineman (1957) **
  • Vengeance for Nikolai (1957) [aka The Song of Marya] **


  • "Beyond Armageddon" (1985)

Writings about Miller

  • Roberson, W. H., 2011. Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Reference Guide to His Fiction and His Life.
  • Roberson, W. H., and Battenfeld, R. L., 1992. Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Bio-Bibliography.
  • Secrest, Rose, 2002. Glorificemus: A Study of the Fiction of Walter M. Miller, Jr.


External links

  • Project Gutenberg
  • Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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