Lillian Hellman

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Related to Lillian Hellman: Dorothy Parker, Dashiell Hammett, Mary McCarthy

Hellman, Lillian,

1905–84, American dramatist, b. New Orleans. Her plays, although often melodramatic, are marked by intelligence and craftsmanship. The Children's Hour (1934), her first drama, concerns the devastating effects of a child's malicious charge of lesbianism against two of her teachers. The Little Foxes (1939) and Another Part of the Forest (1946) constitute a chilling study of a wealthy and rapacious Southern family. Several of Hellman's dramas—notably Watch on the Rhine (1941) and The Searching Wind (1944)—treat international political themes such as isolationism and the rise of fascism. In 1952 she was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee because she had attended Communist party meetings in the late 1930s. She made several English adaptations of French plays and, with Richard WilburWilbur, Richard,
1921–, American poet and translator, b. New York City, grad. Amherst (B.A., 1942) and Harvard (M.A., 1947). A virtuoso craftsman who writes gracefully in traditional verse forms, Wilbur is always original and generally affirmative in his view of the world,
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, wrote a libretto for a musical version of Voltaire's Candide (1955). Her other plays include Days to Come (1936), The Autumn Garden (1951), and Toys in the Attic (1960). In 1931 she met the writer Dashiell HammettHammett, Dashiell
, 1894–1961, American writer, b. St. Mary's co., Maryland. After a variety of jobs, including several years working as a detective for the Pinkerton agency, beginning in the early 1920s he found success as a writer, largely originating the hard-boiled
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, who remained her constant companion until his death in 1961.


See her autobiographical works, An Unfinished Woman (1969), Pentimento (1973), and Scoundrel Time (1976); biographies by W. Wright (1986), C. Rollyson (1988), and A. Kessler-Harris (2012); P. Feibleman, Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman (1988); J. Mellen, Hellman and Hammett (1996).

Hellman, Lillian


Born June 20, 1905, in New Orleans, La. American writer and dramatist.

Hellman studied at New York University and Columbia University. Her realistic, socially significant work is filled with profound interest in man’s inner life, exemplified in such plays as The Children’s Hour (1934) and The Days to Come (1936). A bourgeois family’s history of predatory accumulation of wealth is unfolded in The Little Foxes (1939; Russian translation, 1944) and Another Part of the Forest (1947; presented on the Soviet stage as Ladies and Gentlemen).

During World War II, Hellman created the bold antifascist plays Watch on the Rhine (1941) and The Searching Wind (1944) and a screenplay, The North Star (1943), about the heroic struggle of Soviet guerrillas. The themes of her postwar plays reflect the destiny, mood, and spiritual confusion of a segment of the American intelligentsia; these plays include The Autumn Garden (1951) and Toys in the Attic (1960; Russian translation, 1967). Hellman has also published autobiographical works—An Unfinished Woman (1969), Pentimento: A Book of Portraits (1973), and Scoundrel Time (1976).

For several decades, Hellman has taken part in the antifascist democratic movement in the USA. She visited the USSR in 1944 and again in 1967. Her plays have been presented in many Soviet theaters.


My Mother, My Father and Me. New York, 1963.
Collected Plays. Boston, 1971.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. Moscow, 1958.
Pogonia: Kinostsenarii. Moscow, 1971.


Golysheva, E. “Vozvrashchenie L. Khellman.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1975, no. 4.
Moody, R. Lillian Hellman: Playwright. New York, 1972.


Hellman, Lillian

(1905–84) playwright; born in New Orleans. After studying at New York and Columbia Universities, she worked in publishing and as a book reviewer and play-reader before attaining her first success with the play, The Children's Hour (1934). Concerned with social, political, and moral issues along with more personal ones, she wrote a number of successful plays including The Little Foxes (1939) and Toys in the Attic (1960). She also wrote many film scripts and adapted the works of others for film and the stage. She published several memoirs, including Scoundrel Time (1976), and she wrote the book for Leonard Bernstein's musical, Candide (1956). For some 30 years she lived with Dashiell Hammett and shared his commitment to radical political causes; her appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1952) resulted in her being blacklisted in Hollywood. Her last years were tainted by a feud with Mary McCarthy and allegations that she had often lied in her memoirs.
References in periodicals archive ?
Lillian Hellman was born in 1905 in New Orleans to parents of German Jewish descent and died in 1984 in the midst of a lawsuit about truth.
I asked him to write an entry on Lillian Hellman for the Encyclopedia of the American Left (Garland, 1990), which I was editing.
Ex-Friends: Falling Out with Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer.
With Ex-Friends Podhoretz has re-told the Family story in the odd and provocative form of five mesmerizing, densely interconnected narratives of his feuds with prominent people who were either Family members or figures on the periphery: Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer.
Playwright Lillian Hellman reminded everyone that she was indeed a fabricator, while no network ever again hired Carol Burnett for regular appearances-even though she won her case.
While, in consequence, the role of women is not ignored -- Emma Goldman makes an appearance, Lillian Hellman several -- anything approaching an awareness of the gendered nature of politics is conspicuous by its absence.
The book devotes an entire, and unusual, section to drama by Alice Gerstenberg, Susan Glaspell, and Genny Lim, but not Lorraine Hansberry, Lillian Hellman, or Wendy Wasserstein.
Brantley studies the autobiographical writing of Lillian Smith, Ellen Glasgow, Eudora Welty, Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, and Zora Neale Hurston with the avowed aim to "deprovincialize the Southern Renaissance -- to redefine it without abstract a priori conditions for what constitutes 'southernness'" (p.
The Hellman/Hammett grant program was set up in the name of Lillian Hellman and her companion Dashiel Hammett.
turns his eyes away from exclusive focus on the state in order to focus on the role of dissident cultural producers and private citizens such as Dalton Trumbo and Lillian Hellman in helping to shape the production of American cultural diplomacy programs in film, television, theater, and other public exhibitions.