Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman, 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 Wilbur, 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 Hammett, 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Little Foxes
Lillian Hellman.
Viking Press, 1961
Stage Left: The Development of the American Social Drama in the Thirties
R. C. Reynolds.
Whitston, 1986
Librarian’s tip: "Lillian Hellman: The Well-Made Melodrama" begins on p. 128
Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition
William W. Demastes.
University of Alabama Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Ten "Into the Foxhole: Feminism, Realism, and Lillian Hellman"
Rumours, Gossip and Lies: Social Anxiety and the Evil Child in Lillian Hellman's the Children's Hour
Tunc, Tanfer Emin.
Journal of Literary Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3, September 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Lillian Hellman's the Little Foxes and the New South Creed: An Ironic View of Southern History
Watson, Ritchie D., Jr.
The Southern Literary Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2, Spring 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Southern Women Playwrights: New Essays in Literary History and Criticism
Robert L. McDonald; Linda Rohrer Paige.
University of Alabama Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "These Four: Hellman's Roots Are Showing"
Feminine Sense in Southern Memoir: Smith, Glasgow, Welty, Hellman, Porter, and Hurston
Will Brantley.
University Press of Mississippi, 1995
Freud on Broadway: A History of Psychoanalysis and the American Drama
W. David Sievers.
Hermitage House, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "Lillian Hellman" begins on p. 279
"These Three": The Influence of William Wyler and Gregg Toland on Lillian Hellman
Hayes, Richard.
Literature/Film Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3, July 1, 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Telling Lies in Modern American Autobiography
Timothy Dow Adams.
University of North Carolina Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Lillian Hellman: 'Are You Now or Were You Ever?'"
American Women Playwrights, 1900-1950
Yvonne Shafer.
Peter Lang, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Lillian Hellman (1905?-1984)" begins on p. 121
Jewish Women Fiction Writers
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Lillian Hellman: 1905-1984" begins on p. 33
Watch on the Rhine: A Play in Three Acts
Lillian Hellman; Herman Finkelstein Collection (Library of Congress).
Random House, 1941
Another Part of the Forest: A Play in Three Acts
Lillian Hellman.
The Viking Press, 1947
The Searching Wind: A Play in Two Acts
Lillian Hellman.
The Viking Press, 1944
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