Lillian Hellman

Playwright, Author, Screenwriter
Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist associates to the ... Read more »
Born: 06/19/1905 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA


Writer (16)

Julia 1977 (Movie)

("Pentimento") (Book as Source Material)

The Chase 1966 (Movie)


Toys in the Attic 1963 (Movie)

("Toys in the Attic") (Play as Source Material)

The Children's Hour 1961 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

The Little Foxes 1940 (Movie)

("The Little Foxes") (Play as Source Material)

The Little Foxes 1940 (Movie)


Dead End 1936 (Movie)


These Three 1935 (Movie)

("The Children's Hour") (Play as Source Material)

These Three 1935 (Movie)


The Dark Angel 1934 (Movie)


Another Part of the Forest (TV Show)


The North Star (Movie)


The Searching Wind (Movie)


The Searching Wind (Movie)

(Play Author)

Watch on the Rhine (Movie)

(Play Author)

Watch on the Rhine (Movie)

Actor (1)

Directed By William Wyler 1988 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)


Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist associates to the House Committee on Un-American Activities with the now-famous declaration that "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." She was portrayed by Jane Fonda in the successful 1977 film "Julia", based on one of her short stories and by Judy Davis in the TV biography "Dash and Lilly" (A&E, 1999).


Dashiel Hammett

met in 1930 had on-again, off-again relationship until his death on January 10, 1961

Dashiell Hammett Source Material (from novel)


Max Hellman

owned Hellman Shoe Factory in New Orleans moved family to NYC c. 1911 when business failed

Ralph Ingersoll

was married at time of their affair

Arthur Kober

married on December 30, 1925 he filed for divorce in 1930 after Hellman engaged in public affair with Dashiel Hammett Hellman became pregnant with his child before they married and had first of seven abortions divorced in 1932

John Melby

born c. 1913 became involved during WWII was married at time of their relationship later dismissed from US State Department reputedly because of his affair with Hellman and her pro-Soviet Union views

Julia Newhouse

heiress reportedly Hellman's father married her mother only for her money


New York University

New York , New York 1922 - 1924
did not graduate

Columbia University

New York , New York 1924
did not graduate

graduated from high school at age 17; in her lifetime, Hellman always claimed she was 15 when she graduated



Portrayed by Jane Fonda in "Julia", a film based on parts of her book "Pentimento"; Jason Robards co-starred as Hammett


Adapted "Another Part of the Forest" for PBS


Issued first volume of memoirs, "An Unfinished Woman"


Final screenplay credit, "The Chase"


Final collaboration with Wyler, adapted another screen version of "The Children's Hour"


Last original Broadway play, "Toys in the Attic", starring Jason Robards


Debut as librettist, adapted with Richard Wilbur Voltaire's "Candide" as a stage musical with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by John Latouche


Translated Jean Anouilh's play ("L'Allouete") about Joan of Arc as "The Lark"


Subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities; refused to name names and made now famous comment, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions"


Had another Broadway success with "The Autumn Garden"


Directed and adapted the French play "Montserrat"


Visited Yugoslavia and interviewed Marshall Tito


Wrote the antifascist themed play "The Searching Wind"


Garnered second Oscar nomination for original script "The North Star"


Penned "Watch on the Rhine"


Received first Academy Award nomination for adaptation of her play "The Little Foxes"


Enjoyed Broadway hit with "The Little Foxes"


Traveled to Europe (including a visit to Moscow); also went to Spain with Ernest Hemingway


Solo screenwriting debut, "These Three", adapted from her play "The Children's Hour"; also first collaboration with William Wyler


Feature debut, co-wrote screenplay with Mordaunt Shairp, "The Dark Angel"


Had Broadway success with "The Children's Hour"; Hammett had recounted a true story of two Scottish schoolteachers who lost their jobs amid rumors of a lesbian affair; Hellman reportedly later told people that Hammett wrote much of the play for which she


With Louis Kronenberg, wrote unproduced comedy "The Dear Queen"


Worked as a script reader


Moved to Hollywood when then-husband was hired by Paramount


Was a book reviewer for the New York Herald Tribune

Divided childhood between NYC (where her parents lived) and New Orleans (where her father's sisters ran a boarding house)

After 1925 marriage, moved to Paris briefly then returned to NYC

After dropping out of NYU. was hired by Horace Liveright to work as publisher's assistant

Bonus Trivia


In a televised interview, rival author Mary McCarthy made the now (in)famous statement, "Every word she [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Hellman filed a million-dollar slander lawsuit against McCarthy.


One Muriel Gardner claimed that her life story was actually the basis for the story of Julia that Hellman included in "Pentimento" and that formed the basis of the 1977 book. Gardner also claimed that she had never met Lillian Hellman.


"Lillian was a celebrity hound." --Martha's Vineyard resident Carly Simon on her famous neighbor.


"When I first went out to Hollywood one heard talk from writers about whoring. But you are not tempted to whore unless you want to be a whore." --Lillian Hellman quoted in "Playwrights at Work: The Paris Review Interviews", edited by George Plimpton, (Modern Library, 2000).