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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,
1921–2017, American poet and translator, b. New York City, B.A. Amherst, 1942, M.A. Harvard, 1947. A virtuoso craftsman who wrote with grace and precision in traditional verse forms, Wilbur was always original and generally affirmative in his view of the
..... Click the link for more information. , 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
..... Click the link for more information. , 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).
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.
WORKSMy Mother, My Father and Me. New York, 1963.
Collected Plays. Boston, 1971.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. Moscow, 1958.
Pogonia: Kinostsenarii. Moscow, 1971.
REFERENCESGolysheva, E. “Vozvrashchenie L. Khellman.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1975, no. 4.
Moody, R. Lillian Hellman: Playwright. New York, 1972.
I. M. LEVIDOVA