No Villain was written by the playwright when he was at university in 1936, but has never been performed on the stage.

Arthur Miller

Miller is regarded as one of the best 20th century playwrights

A long-lost play written by Arthur Miller when he was a 20-year-old student is to have its world premiere in London next month.

The US playwright wrote No Villain over six days in 1936 during his spring break, with hopes of winning the University of Michigan’s $250 Avery Hopwood award.

Miller needed the money to be able to return to college for another year.

He won the prize but the play never reached the stage and was largely forgotten about until London-based director Sean Turner read about it in an autobiography of Miller.

„I was determined to find the script, it was the only dramatic work I couldn’t find of his,” he said.

After a year and a half the original typed manuscript was unearthed by librarians at the University of Michigan and Turner was given a copy.

It will have its world premiere on 8 December at the Old Red Lion Theatre, above a pub in central London, just over 100 years since Miller’s birth.

Marilyn Monroe with third husband American playwright Arthur Miller

Miller with his wife of four years Marilyn Monroe

Although it is Miller’s first play, it has „the mark of quality” that sets it out as the work of a writer later celebrated as one of the greatest US playwrights of the 20th century, according to Turner.

„After 18 months of searching I was sure it was going to be substandard,” the director said.

„It is a wonderful piece of work, not just a nascent idea, he’s really writing quite fully formed. The rhythms are there, the beautiful high poetry in domestic settings we see in his later work,” he added.

The play tells the story of a student who has become a Marxist at university and returns to his family in New York, to find himself torn between helping the family coat-making business or joining the striking workers.

Miller’s father ran a coat factory.

The writer later explored US suspicion and blacklisting of people suspected of Communist sympathies in The Crucible, a dramatisation of the Salem witch trials, and was himself hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956.

Miller, who married actress Marilyn Monroe, is also known for his works All my Sons, Death Of A Salesman and A View From The Bridge.

No Villain will run until 9 January.