Madeline Miller. Photo by Stephanie Diani.
What does she do? Madeline Miller is an American novelist. Her debut novel, The Song of Achilles, won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making Miller the fourth debut novelist to win the prize. Miller spent ten years writing the book while she worked as a Latin and Greek teacher. Her second novel, Circe, was released in April of 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. One of the most anticipated books of 2018, Circe is a #1 New York Times bestseller.
Who is she? Madeline Miller was born on July 24, 1978 in Boston. After growing up in New York City and Philadelphia, she attended Brown University, where she studied the Classics. She achieved her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brown, then when on to teach Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students. Additionally, she studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, as well as the Yale School of Drama. Her major literary inspirations include the likes of David Mitchell, Lorrie More, Anne Carson, and Virgil.
The Song of Achilles, Miller’s debut novel, was released in September of 2011. The book was a labor of love; it took ten years to write. Miller discarded a completed manuscript five years into the writing project, then started again from scratch. Set in Greece, The Song of Achilles tells the story of a love affair between Achilles and Patroclus—both major characters in Homer’s Iliad. Miller wanted to explore Patroclus’s character and his place within Achilles’ story.
The Song of Achilles was the winner of the 17th annual Orange Prize for Fiction after being named the “dark horse” candidate by several literary critics. The book was also shortlisted for the 2013 Chautauqua Prize. Her second book, Circe, is still very new at the time of this publication. However, already a #1 New York Times Best seller and one of the most anticipated books of the year, we expect it to do well in the awards circuit for 2018. Miller currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts teaching and writing.
Why watch? Miller’s dedication to craft and voice make her one of the most interesting novelists of the time. Her reimagining of Homeric characters breathes new life into the ancient texts, sparking a newfound interest in the classics. Though Miller’s books take years to write, we expect to see more award-winning work from her in the future.