Henry Miller Library

Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920

831-667-2574

Mission Statement

The Henry Miller Library is a public benefit, non-profit organization championing the literary, artistic and cultural contributions of the late writer, artist and Big Sur resident Henry Miller. The Library also serves as a cultural resource center, functioning as a public gallery/performance/workshop space for artists, writers, musicians and students. In addition, the Library supports education in the arts and the local environment. Finally, the Library serves as a social center for the community.

History and Purpose

The Henry Miller Library (also known as the "Henry Miller Memorial Library, Founded by Emil White") was created by Emil White, a longtime friend of Miller. Located in Big Sur, 35 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on Highway One, the Library occupies White's former home.

White moved to Big Sur in 1944 to serve as caretaker and personal secretary to Henry Miller. The two had met in Chicago in 1942. In the 1960's White bought the property, a lush meadow surrounded by towering redwoods, on which the Library now stands. The main building was built in 1966 on the site of the Graves Canyon landfill created during the construction of Highway One in the 1930's. The caretaker's cottage adjacent to the main house was added shortly thereafter. Other changes have been made piecemeal since 1981.

After Miller died in 1980, Emil decided to maintain his property as a memorial to his friend and as a gallery where local artists could show their work. In 1981, with the assistance of the Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT), he converted his home into the Library. Emil spent the rest of his life as director of the new institution, which evolved into a local center for the arts.

At his death in 1989, White bequeathed the "HENRY MILLER MEMORIAL LIBRARY, FOUNDED BY EMIL WHITE," to the BSLT. "With this bequest," White wrote in his Last Will and Testament, "I am encouraging support and maintenance of said Library, and to promote and enhance the scholarly research and worldwide enjoyment of Henry Miller's literary and artistic works."

The mission of the Big Sur Land Trust is to focus on preserving Big Sur as an invaluable natural resource. The mission of the Henry Miller Library is to promote the literary and artistic works of Henry Miller, and to serve as a cultural and educational resource for residents of and visitors to Big Sur.

In 1997, with the growing awareness that these two mission statements were quite different from one another the Library staff, with the blessings of the BSLT, began the process of becoming an independent 501(c)3 organization. That process is completed.

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