MILLER, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press, 1949.
8vo., original orange cloth, with printed house design in brown to upper cover and lettered in brown direct to spine; printed black and white pictorial endpapers; upper edge coloured; original unclipped pictorial dust jacket with iconic design by Joseph Hirsch; pp. [ii], 139, [iii]; a very good copy, with some very light fading and spotting to edges, some light toning to prelims and a previous ownership name to half title; the jacket with some shelf-wear, chips and nicks to head and foot of spine and creasing to upper edge; two small closed tears to upper panel; still a bright example.
First edition, in first issue dust jacket, priced at $2.50 and with the 'D' of 'Death' partially within the yellow spotlight of cover image. With tipped-in envelope signed by Arthur Miller loosely inserted.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, Death of a Salesman initially premiered on Broadway in 1949 to great success, running for 742 performances. The trials and tribulations of the protagonist Willy Loman, and his search for the American Dream, presents a tragic, moving and poignant insight into an American working class family in 1940s downtown Brooklyn, and is set against the backdrop of the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent depression. The play has its origins in a short story Miller wrote at the age of seventeen, when he worked briefly for his father's company. His protagonist is often thought to have been based upon his salesman uncle, Manny Newman, who "dared not lose hope" and who "tremble[d] with resolutions and shouts of victories that had not yet taken place but surely would tomorrow". (Autobiography)
The play went on to win the Tony Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Drama Circle Critics' Award, becoming the first ever play to win all three prizes.