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Profile of Joaquin Miller

Writer
Date Of Birth:
8 September 1837
Date Of Death:
17 February 1913
Place Of Birth:
Union County, Indiana
Best Known As:
"The Poet of the Sierras"

Name at birth: Cincinnatus Hiner Miller

Cincinattus "Joaquin" Miller was a writer known for his descriptions of the American West during the late 19th century. A raconteur and frontiersman, Miller was known as "The Poet of the Sierras." Joaquin Miller was born in Indiana, but his family took the Oregon Trail to Eugene City in the early 1850s. Drawn to adventure as a young man, he traveled the territory as a prospector, Indian fighter, horse thief, jailbird, newspaper editor -- and was even once elected judge. Miller also wrote poems, but his great literary fame came from his 1873 book, Life Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History. He became a celebrity in New York and Washington, D.C., and was a big hit in England and Europe, visiting there dressed in elaborate frontier garb. During his career, Miller had a literary reputation along the lines of Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Besides being called the "Poet of the Sierras," Miller liked to advertise himself as "The Byron of the Rockies." His poetry lost its luster over time, and Miller's fame now rests more on his reputation as an imaginative liar and self-promoter who became rich as a frontier writer. Miller settled outside of Oakland, California and died at his home there in 1913.
Extra Credit:

Joaquin Miller took his middle name, Hiner, and converted it to Heine, after the German poet, Heinrich Heine… When Cincinattus Miller was a newspaper editor, he wrote a sympathetic editorial about Mexican bandit Joaquin Murietta, which earned him the enmity of his readers, who then began calling him “Joaquin Miller” derisively. Miller liked the name and kept it… From 1862 to 1870, Joaquin Miller was married to Theresa Dyer, a writer whose pen name was Minnie Myrtle (“The Poetess of the Coquille”). They had three children together and an unfriendly divorce.

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