Jump to content

Madeline Miller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Madeline Miller
Miller in 2013
Miller in 2013
Born (1978-07-24) July 24, 1978 (age 45)[1]
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationBrown University (BA, MA)
University of Chicago
Yale University
Notable worksThe Song of Achilles
Notable awardsOrange Prize for Fiction (2012)
Official website

Madeline Miller (born July 24, 1978) is an American novelist, author of The Song of Achilles (2011) and Circe (2018). Miller spent ten years writing The Song of Achilles while she worked as a teacher of Latin and Greek. The novel tells the story of the love between the mythological figures Achilles and Patroclus; it won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making Miller the fourth debut novelist to win the prize. She is a 2019 recipient of the Alex Awards.


Miller was born on July 24, 1978, in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia.[2][3] Miller attended Brown University, completing both a bachelor's and master's degree in Classics (2000 and 2001, respectively). She started writing her first novel, The Song of Achilles, during the final year of her bachelors after co-directing a production of Troilus and Cressida. She has said that the scene in the play that shows Patroclus' death sparked her interest in telling his story and pushed her to start writing.[4] Prior to this moment, she already had a deep interest in Greek mythology and classics. Her mother, a librarian, started reading her The Iliad at five years old and she started learning Latin at 11.[4]

After completing her degrees, Miller then went on to teach Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students.[2][3][5] While working as a teacher, Miller continued work on her novel.[4]

She later studied for a year at the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought working towards a PhD and from 2009 to 2010 at the Yale School of Drama for an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism.[6]

She has discussed how Long COVID has affected her life since a February 2020 COVID-19 infection. In an op-ed in The Washington Post in August 2023, she said that having had the disease for three years, she had regained the ability to write but her fatigue had worsened.[7]


The Song of Achilles[edit]

The Song of Achilles, Miller's debut novel, was released in September 2011.[3][8] The book took her ten years to write.[2][3] Set during the Greek Heroic Age, the novel tells the story from Patroclus' point of view and the bond that grew between him and Achilles.[5] The novel won the 17th annual Orange Prize for Fiction.[9]


Circe, Miller's second novel, was released on April 10, 2018.[10] The book is a modern reimagining told from the perspective of Circe, an enchantress in Greek mythology who is featured in Homer's Odyssey. Circe was ranked the second-greatest book of the 2010s by Paste.[11] Tutor House ranked Circe in its top books for Classics students in 2021. An 8-part miniseries adaptation of the book has been greenlit for HBO Max.[12] Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are set to write and produce the adaptation.[13]


A short story originally released as an e-book in 2013.[14] It was later released in hardback in March 2022.[15] The novel is a retelling of the Greek myth Pygmalion from the perspective of the sculptor's statue.[14]

Heracles' Bow[edit]

A short story contained within The Song of Achilles, published on August 7, 2012. It takes from the perspective of Philoctetes, how he suffered his snake bite, and his abandonment by his companions. Much of the story takes place as a dialogue between Philoctetes and an imaginary Heracles, though other characters from The Song of Achilles also appear in it.


In December 2021, Miller announced via an Instagram post that she was working on her new novel, about the goddess Persephone.[16]

Genre, style and influences[edit]

Miller is known for writing mythological realism.[17] Miller's novels re-imagine stories from Greek mythology, while focusing on themes that she considers timeless, like dysfunctional families and homesickness.[18][19] She has said that she finds relevance to retelling The Odyssey because it related to "universal human experiences."[19] In an interview, Miller said that she sees genre as "permeable and changeable"[20] but said that her books could be characterized as "either literary adaptation or mythological realism. Or just plain old fiction!".[20] Miller has said though that her approach to the original material was quite different for her two novels. In The Song of Achilles she took an existing story "hidden in the material already" and for Circe she challenged the classic texts by taking out Odysseus voice and replacing it with Circe's,[21] a more "subversive retelling".[22]

Miller told a reporter from The Guardian that her inspirations include David Mitchell, Lorrie Moore, Anne Carson, and Virgil.[23] Miller expressed "hate" and "visceral disgust" towards Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead. As she herself indicated, she hates the "ideas behind it". Instead, she prefers books by James Herriot and Chinua Achebe.[24]


Book Award Result Ref.
The Song of Achilles (2011) Chautauqua Prize Finalist [25]
Gaylactic Spectrum Award Won [26]
Orange Prize for Fiction Won [9]
Stonewall Book Award Honor Book [27]
Circe (2018) Athenaeum Literary Award Won [28]
Goodreads Choice Award (Fantasy) Won [29]
The Kitschies (Red Tentacle) Won [30]
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Finalist [31]
Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlisted [32]


  • The Song of Achilles. London: Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 9781408816035, OCLC 770085076
  • Circe: A Novel. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2018. ISBN 9780316556347, OCLC 1029608347[33][34][35]


  1. ^ Leonard, Sue (September 24, 2011). "Beginner's Pluck". Irish Examiner. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Alter, Alexandra (February 24, 2012). "Rewriting the Story of Achilles". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Brown, Mark (May 30, 2012). "Orange prize for fiction 2012 goes to Madeline Miller". The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Cochrane, Kira (June 1, 2012). "The Saturday interview: Madeline Miller, Orange prize winner". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Marsden, Sam (May 30, 2012). "Orange Prize for Fiction goes to Madeline Miller's story of a love affair overshadowed by the Trojan War". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  6. ^ "About Madeline". madelinemiller.com. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  7. ^ Miller, Madeline (August 9, 2023). "Opinion | Long covid has derailed my life. Make no mistake: It could yours, too". Washington Post. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  8. ^ Ana (December 21, 2011). "Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller". The Book Smugglers. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Kellogg, Carolyn (May 30, 2012). "First-time author Madeline Miller wins last-ever Orange Prize". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  10. ^ "News - Madeline Miller". madelinemiller.com. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  11. ^ "The 40 Best Novels of the 2010s". pastemagazine.com. October 14, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 30, 2019). "'Circe' Fantasy Drama From Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver Based On Novel Gets HBO Max Series Order". Deadline Hollywood.
  13. ^ Otterson, Joe (July 30, 2019). "HBO Max Orders Greek Mythology Drama 'Circe' From Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa". Variety. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Chai, Barbara (August 14, 2013). "Read an Excerpt of Madeline Miller's 'Galatea'". Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  15. ^ Brown, Francesca (March 1, 2022). "March 2022's best new books, including memoirs, thrillers, essays, poetry and more". Stylist. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  16. ^ Madeline Miller (December 20, 2021). "Madeline Miller on Instagram: "Some news about my current novel-in-progress. I know I said I was working on the Tempest. Turns out the Tempest is going to have to wait. She grabbed me with both hands. #persephone"". Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  17. ^ VanRy, Nikki (April 19, 2018). "Writing Of Gods And Mortals: A Madeline Miller Interview". BOOK RIOT. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  18. ^ "One Read 2019 - An Interview with Madeline Miller". thelibrary.org. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  19. ^ a b Klein, Ezra (April 24, 2020). "Madeline Miller on myth, nostalgia, and how power corrupts". Vox. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  20. ^ a b Ping, Trisha (March 16, 2018). "Interview with Madeline Miller about 'Circe'". BookPage. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  21. ^ Wiener, James Blake. "Interview: Circe by Madeline Miller". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  22. ^ Alter, Alexandra (April 6, 2018). "Circe, a Vilified Witch From Classical Mythology, Gets Her Own Epic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  23. ^ "Paperback Q&A: Madeline Miller on The Song of Achilles". The Guardian. May 1, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  24. ^ Miller, Madeline (March 11, 2022). "Reading Ayn Rand was like being dipped in slime". The Guardian. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  25. ^ Ron Charles (May 15, 2013). "Timothy Egan wins Chautauqua Prize for "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher"". Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  26. ^ "Gaylactic Spectrum Awards 2013". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  27. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards List – 2013". American Library Association. September 9, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  28. ^ "Literary Award". The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  29. ^ Jarema, Kerri (December 4, 2018). "The 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Winners Are Here & 'The Hate U Give' Won In A BIG Way". Bustle. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  30. ^ Chandler, Mark (April 16, 2019). "Miller's Circe picks up Red Tentacle at Kitschies | The Bookseller". The Bookseller. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  31. ^ Emerson, David (June 5, 2019). "The Mythopoeic Society: 2019 Mythopoeic Awards finalists announced". Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  32. ^ Jean-Philippe, McKenzie (April 29, 2019). "An Oprah's Book Club Pick Just Made the Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist". Oprah Daily. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  33. ^ Charles, Ron (April 9, 2018). "Review | The original nasty woman is a goddess for our times". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  34. ^ Alter, Alexandra (April 6, 2018). "Circe, a Vilified Witch From Classical Mythology, Gets Her Own Epic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  35. ^ Preston, Alex (April 8, 2018). "Circe by Madeline Miller review – Greek classic thrums with contemporary relevance". The Guardian. Retrieved April 15, 2018.

External links[edit]