Lillian Hellman: Rebel Playwright

Lillian Hellman: Rebel Playwright

by Ruth Turk

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
This is a competent introduction to the nonconformist author of The Little Foxes and An Unfinished Woman. Emphasis is placed on Hellman's New Orleans childhood, her relationship with mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, and her long love affair with left-wing politics-including Hellman's skirmishes with the House Un-American Activities Committee in the fifties. The biography should be useful for raising questions about alternate life styles and the role of intellectuals within American society.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-This biography never swerves from the more sensational aspects of this noteworthy woman's life. There is no invention of dialogue, no glossing over Hellman's unusual relationship with Dashiell Hammett, and no simplification of the McCarthy-era blacklisting that kept Hellman out of circulation as a writer and playwright in the 1950s. Her remarkable iconoclasm is traced from recalled incidents from her childhood, described in her own words, and continues throughout her life. The photographs are ample but not dominant, and show this woman in all of her fashion faux pas and her elegance, even at a time that the narrative notes her need for money and her style of life beyond her means. And yet her accomplishments as a playwright, fiction writer, and autobiographer are the centerpiece and are in no way tarnished or diminished by her eccentricities. The book gives an even-handed evaluation of her writing, and places Hellman where she belongs, among those whose productivity and genuine literary excellence are admirable. A fascinating life, well described.-Ruth K. MacDonald, Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA
Mary Harris Veeder
Young people may seek information on Hellman for many reasons--because of their interest in her as a distinguished writer for stage and screen or because of her autobiographical memoirs. And for students interested in American history, Hellman's critical voice during the years when the House Un-American Activities Committee was operative and during the 1960s can provide insight into several turbulent periods. Turk presents some details about Hellman's childhood, and she handles the controversial aspects of Hellman's personal and professional adult life (for example, her association with Dashiell Hammett and allegations that she lied in her memoirs) straight on. Without overwhelming readers with details, she forcefully draws the disparate strands of Hellman's story into a coherent portrait, at the same time deepening the impression of the writer's lifelong energies.

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Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.33(w) x 8.81(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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