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,
1921–2017, 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
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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 ?
And so Lillian Hellman lied even when she must have known how easily her lies could be proven.
Matters of veracity took their final turn in 1980 when Mary McCarthy accused Lillian Hellman of being a "dishonest writer," which she further famously elaborated by saying "every word she writes is a lie, including and and the" (323).
While Gaines's novel touches on the issue of homosexual relationships between black men, chapters four and five examine the texts of Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, and Margaret Walker that depict the ambiguous queer intimacy between the plantation mistress and her black maid.
La calumnia de Lillian Hellman obtuvo un exito notorio cuando se estreno en 1934, y tambien cuando se reestreno en 1952, debido a su tratamiento del lesbianismo.
Which brings me to Lillian Hellman, our lady of the eternal grudge, who was still suing Mary McCarthy when she died, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her waving a warrant when everybody else is raptured up.
Thomas Carl Austenfeld concludes his critical study of Kay Boyle, Katherine Anne Porter, Jean Stafford, and Lillian Hellman with a series of questions.
Playwright Lillian Hellman was one of those who refused, saying "I will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.
On the other hand, the music is allied to sharp lyrics from a string of notables including Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Stephen Sondheim and Bernstein himself.
A collection of essays edited by Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron, entitled Significant Others: Creativity & Intimate Partnership2 describes, among others, the relationships of Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Clara and Andre Malraux, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett.
Last year, while mounting Peter Feibleman's Cakewalk, about his twenty-five-year relationship with Lillian Hellman, Loewenberg discovered that he controlled Hellman's estate.