Millen Brand (January 19, 1906 – March 19, 1980) was an American writer and poet. His novels, The Outward Room (1938) and Savage Sleep (1968)—which addressed mental health institutions, were bestsellers in their day.
|Born||January 19, 1901|
Jersey City, New Jersey
|Died||March 19, 1980(aged 79)|
|Residence||New York City|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Notable works||The Outward Room, Savage Sleep|
|Spouse||Pauline Leader, Helen Mendelssohn|
Brand was born on January 19, 1906, in Jersey City, New Jersey, into a working-class family. He was of Pennsylvania Dutch descent on his mother’s side. He graduated from Columbia University in 1929. He resided in Greenwich Village and on a small farm he owned in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He married twice; first to Pauline Leader, a poet noted for her memoir about growing up deaf, And No Birds Sing, and then to Helen Mendelssohn; both marriages ended in divorce. He had three children by his first marriage and one by his second.
After graduating from Columbia, Brand began work as a psychiatric aide and also a copywriter for the New York Telephone Company before accepting faculty posts at the University of New Hampshire and New York University, where he taught writing fiction. Brand was an editor at Crown Publishers for about twenty years, starting in the early 1950s, where he edited works by Indian social-realist novelist Bhabani Bhattacharya.
In 1935, Brand joined the League of American Writers (1935-1943), whose members included Alexander Trachtenberg, Frank Folsom, Louis Untermeyer, I.F. Stone, Myra Page, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, and Dashiell Hammett. Members were sympathetic to the U.S. Communist Party.
In 1937, Brand wrote his first and most noted novel, The Outward Room, based in part on his experience as a psychiatric aide. The novel was a bestseller and was adapted for Broadway as The World We Make. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing (Screenplay) in 1948 for The Snake Pit (with Frank Partos), an adaptation of Mary Jane Ward's novel, which like his novel, The Outward Room, involved confinement in a mental health institution.
While Millen viewed his move to New York City as an escape from his heritage, he returned to the topic of the Pennsylvania Dutch late in life, writing the text to accompany George Tice's photographs for Fields of Peace: A Pennsylvania German Album (1970), and Local Lives (1975), a book of poems about the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Millen was active in the civil rights movement and the peace movement. In 1953, he was required to appear before the U.S. Senate Investigations subcommittee, chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy, at which appearance he refused to testify against his colleagues in the League of American Writers, citing the Fifth Amendment. Consequently, his works were among those banned from U.S. State Department libraries, abroad. Toward the end of his life, Brand was active in a movement to open up major poetry publications to writers of color and younger writers, through his friendship with the Caribbean-American poet, essayist, teacher, and activist, June Jordan.
- Brand, Millen (1937). The Outward Room. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781590173596.
- Brand, Millen (1939). The Heroes. New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Brand, Millen (1947). Albert Sears. New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Brand, Millen (1959). Some love, some hunger. Berlin: Seven Seas Publishers.
- Brand, Millen (1968). Savage Sleep. New York: Crown Publishers.
- Brand, Millen (1970). Fields of Peace: a Pennsylvania German Album. Boston: David R. Godine Publisher. ISBN 9781567920765.
- Brand, Millen (1975). Local lives. New York: C. N. Potter.
- Brand, Millen (1980). Peace march, Nagasaki to Hiroshima. Woodstock, Vermont: Countryman Press. ISBN 9780914378648.
- Staff (1980). "Millen Brand". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Pace, Eric (March 22, 1980). "Millen Brand, Writer and Editor Known for Works on Psychiatry; Co-Author of 'Snake Pit' Film Plans Aborted". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
- Brand, Millen (2010-10-19). The Outward Room. New York Review of Books. ISBN 9781590174074.
- Jain, Saudamini. "The long history of Indians in the US, as told by a portrait of an anonymous woman". Quartz India. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
- Page, Myra; Baker, Christina Looper (1996). In a Generous Spirit: A First-Person Biography of Myra Page. University of Illinois Press. p. 145. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Earl Browder, "Text of Speech by Browder at American Writers Congress," The Daily Worker, vol. 12, no. 102 (April 29, 1935), pg. 3.
- Brand, Millen (1970). Fields of Peace: a Pennsylvania German Album. David R. Godine Publisher. ISBN 9781567920765.
- Curators. "Millen Brand papers, 1919-1976". Columbia University. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
- Jordan, June (July 1975). "Millen Brand Critical Essays". The American Poetry Review. Retrieved 2019-04-26.