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Alice Duer Miller (1874–1942)

Author of The White Cliffs

Includes the names: Alice Duer., Alice Duer Miller, Alice Duer Miller

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Alice Duer Miller was born to a wealthy and influential New York family descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence. However, shortly after she made her debut in society, her family lost most of its fortune in a banking crisis. She went to Barnard College in 1895, studying mathematics and astronomy, and helped to pay for her tuition by writing poems, short stories, and essays for national magazines. In 1899, she married Henry Wise Miller and the couple left for Costa Rica, where he attempted to grow rubber. This venture eventually failed and they returned to New York with their young son in 1903. She became known as a women's suffrage campaigner and wrote a satirical column in The New York Tribune called Are Women People? A collection of her columns was published in book form in 1915 and the three-word title became a catchphrase of the suffrage movement. She also wrote novels, including Come Out of the Kitchen (1916), which was adapted into a stage play and the 1948 film Spring in Park Lane, and Forsaking All Others (1933). Other stories adapted for films included Are Parents People? (1925), Roberta (1935), and Irene (1940). She wrote many of the screenplays, including Wife vs. Secretary (1936). In 1940, she published the verse novel The White Cliffs, which was spectacularly successful in both the USA and UK, selling an unprecedented one million copies. It was recorded by British-American actress Lynn Fontanne with a symphonic accompaniment, and made into the 1944 film The White Cliffs of Dover. It was so popular that it is considered to have changed the isolationist public opinion of the time in favor of USA support for the British in World War II.
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