LILLIAN HELLMAN Biography - Writers


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Lillian Hellman(1905-1984), American dramatist, whose plays are distinguished         
for the forcefulness of their subject matter, usually a condemnation of personal       
and social evil. They are also notable for character development and expert           
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Hellman was educated at New York and Columbia         
universities. Her plays include The Children's Hour (1934), in which a malicious       
child's accusations of lesbianism ruin the lives of two schoolteachers; The           
Little Foxes (1939), in which the members of a Southern family struggle               
unscrupulously with one another for the family wealth after the American Civil         
War (1861-1865); and The Watch on the Rhine (1941), in which a leader of an anti-Nazi 
movement visiting the United States is forced to kill a Nazi agent. This play         
won her a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award in 1941. Hellman's other plays         
include The Searching Wind (1944); Another Part of the Forest (1946); and The         
Lark (1955), a story of Joan of Arc, adapted from the play L'Alouette, by the         
French dramatist Jean Anouilh. In 1960 Toys in the Attic (1960) won Hellman a         
second New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. All of these plays have been made         
into films.                                                                           
Hellman was awarded the 1970 National Book Award in arts and letters for her           
autobiography An Unfinished Woman (1969). This work was continued with                 
Pentimento (1973), a collection of prose portraits of herself and others whose         
lives influenced hers; the 1977 movie Julia was based on one of these sketches.       
The autobiography ended with Scoundrel Time (1976), an account of her                 
experiences during the McCarthy-era investigations of Communism in the United         
States (see McCarthy, Joseph Raymond).