Hellman, Lillian

Hellman, Lillian

▪ American playwright
born June 20, 1905, New Orleans, La., U.S.
died June 30, 1984, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
 American playwright and motion-picture screenwriter whose dramas forcefully attacked injustice, exploitation, and selfishness.

      Hellman attended New York public schools and New York University and Columbia University. Her marriage (1925–32) to the playwright Arthur Kober ended in divorce. She had already begun an intimate friendship with the novelist Dashiell Hammett (Hammett, Dashiell) that would continue until his death in 1961. In the 1930s, after working as book reviewer, press agent, play reader, and Hollywood scenarist, she began writing plays.

      Her dramas exposed some of the various forms in which evil appears—a malicious child's lies about two schoolteachers (The Children's Hour, 1934); a ruthless family's exploitation of fellow townspeople and of one another (The Little Foxes, 1939, and Another Part of the Forest, 1946); and the irresponsible selfishness of the Versailles-treaty generation (Watch on the Rhine, 1941, and The Searching Wind, 1944). Criticized at times for her doctrinaire views and characters, she nevertheless kept her characters from becoming merely social points of view by writing credible dialogue and creating a realistic intensity matched by few of her playwriting contemporaries. These plays exhibit the tight structure and occasional overcontrivance of what is known as the well-made play. In the 1950s she showed her skill in handling the more subtle structure of Chekhovian drama (The Autumn Garden, 1951) and in translating and adapting (Jean Anouilh (Anouilh, Jean)'s The Lark, 1955, and Voltaire's Candide, 1957, in a musical version). She returned to the well-made play with Toys in the Attic (1960), which was followed by another adaptation, My Mother, My Father, and Me (1963; from Burt Blechman's novel How Much?). She also edited Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton)'s Selected Letters (1955) and a collection of stories and short novels, The Big Knockover (1966), by Hammett.

      Her reminiscences, begun in An Unfinished Woman (1969), were continued in Pentimento (1973) and Maybe (1980). After their publication, certain fabrications were brought to light, notably her reporting in Pentimento of a personal relationship with a courageous woman she called Julia. The woman on whose actions Hellman's story was based denied acquaintance with the author.

      Hellman, a longtime supporter of leftist causes, detailed in Scoundrel Time (1976) her troubles and those of her friends with the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings during the 1950s. Hellman refused to give the committee the names of people who had associations with the Communist Party; she was subsequently blacklisted though not held in contempt of Congress.

      Her collected plays, many of which continued to be performed at the turn of the 20th century, were published in 1972.

Additional Reading
Biographical studies include William Wright, Lillian Hellman (1986); Carl Rollyson, Lillian Hellman: Her Legend and Her Legacy (1988); Peter Feibleman, Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman (1988); and Joan Mellen, Hellman and Hammett (1996). Two important reference works are Mark W. Estrin, Lillian Hellman: Plays, Films, Memoirs (1980); and Barbara Lee Horn, Lillian Hellman: A Research and Production Sourcebook (1998). Doris V. Falk, Lillian Hellman (1978); and Katherine Lederer, Lillian Hellman (1979), offer analyses of her work. Other critical works include Alice Griffin and Geraldine Thorsten, Understanding Lillian Hellman (1999); and Mark W. Estrin (ed.), Critical Essays on Lillian Hellman (1989).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • HELLMAN, LILLIAN FLORENCE — (1905–1984), U.S. playwright. Sources vary about the year of her birth. The Library of Congress lists it as 1906. The New York Times, the newspaper of record, in its obituary for her in 1984, listed her age as 79. She first worked for a… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hellman, Lillian — • ХЕ ЛМАН (Hellman) Лиллиан (20.6.1905 30.6.1984)    амер. драматург, сценарист. Училась в Колумб. ун те. В 1934 выступила как драматург. Внесла значит, вклад в развитие театр. иск ва США, отмечена мн. наградами. В кино с 1935 (сц. ф. Мрачный… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Hellman,Lillian — Hell·man (hĕlʹmən), Lillian. 1905 1984. American playwright whose works concern sensitive political and social issues, such as lesbianism in The Children s Hour (1934) and interracial relations in Toys in the Attic (1960). * * * …   Universalium

  • Hellman, Lillian — (1906 84)    American playwright. Born in New Orleans, she worked as a manuscript reader; she then was a theatrical play reader and film scenario reader. In the 1930s she began to write her own plays, some of which were adapted for the screen.… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Hellman, Lillian —  (1905–1984) American playwright …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Hellman, Lillian —    см. Хеллман, Лилиан …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • Hellman, Lillian (Florence) — born June 20, 1905, New Orleans, La., U.S. died June 30, 1984, Vineyard Haven, Martha s Vineyard, Mass. U.S. playwright. After working as a book reviewer, press agent, and play reader, she began writing plays in the 1930s. Her first major success …   Universalium

  • Hellman, Lillian (Florence) — (20 jun. 1905, New Orleans, La., EE.UU.–30 jun. 1984, Vineyard Haven, Martha s Vineyard, Mass.). Dramaturga estadounidense. Trabajó como crítica literaria, agente de prensa y lectora de guiones, y en la década de 1930 comenzó a escribir obras de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lillian Hellman — Infobox Writer name = Lillian Hellman imagesize = 200px caption = birthdate = birth date|1905|6|20 birthplace = New Orleans, Louisiana deathdate = death date and age|1984|6|30|1905|6|20 deathplace = Tisbury, Massachusetts occupation = writer… …   Wikipedia

  • Lillian Hellman — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hellman. Lillian Hellman est une scénariste et actrice américaine née le 20 juin 1905 à La Nouvelle Orléans, Louisiane (États Unis), décédée le 30 juin 1984 à Tisbury (États Unis). Sommaire 1 …   Wikipédia en Français

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