Lillian Hellman Biography
(Dramatist and Screenwriter)
Birthday: June 20, 1905 (Gemini)
Born In: New Orleans, Louisiana
Lillian Hellman is regarded as one of the most important American playwrights. She also penned screenplays of many films. Her career began when she became a reader with MGM. Writer Dashiell Hammet became her companion and critic, and encouraged her writings. While on a visit to Germany, she got her first taste of the anti-Semitic policy of the Nazi party. Some of her works, the plays, ‘Watch on the Rhine’ and ‘The Searching Wind’, and her screen play for ‘The North Star’, reflected her anti-Fascist stance. In her country, she was viewed with suspicion for her admiration for Communist causes. Post WWII, America was gripped by an anti-communist hysteria. She had been a member of the Communist Party, but had become disillusioned by its functioning. Despite being boycotted by the film industry, she never divulged the names of fellow Communists, and found it hard to meet financial commitments. Her successful plays include ‘The Children's Hour’, ‘The Little Foxes’, ‘The Autumn Garden’, ‘The Lark’, and ‘Toys in the Attic’. She wrote about lesbianism when it was still taboo, and did not believe in the institution of marriage. The three volumes of her memoirs that she published were well-received. She is remembered as someone who was much ahead of her times.