Lillian Hellman (Hardcover)

An Imperious Life (Jewish Lives)

By Dorothy Gallagher

Yale University Press, 9780300164978, 184pp.

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

Glamorous, talented, audacious—Lillian Hellman knew everyone, did everything, had been everywhere. By the age of twenty-nine she had written The Children’s Hour, the first of four hit Broadway plays, and soon she was considered a member of America’s first rank of dramatists, a position she maintained for more than twenty-five years. Apart from her literary accomplishments—eight original plays and three volumes of memoirs—Hellman lived a rich life filled with notable friendships, controversial political activity, travel, and love affairs, most importantly with Dashiell Hammett. But by the time she died, the truth about her life and works had been called into question. Scandals attached to her name, having to do with sex, with money, and with her own veracity.
 
Dorothy Gallagher confronts the conundrum that was Lillian Hellman—a woman with a capacity to inspire outrage as often as admiration. Exploring Hellman’s leftist politics, her Jewish and Southern background, and her famous testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Gallagher also undertakes a new reading of Hellman’s carefully crafted memoirs and plays, in which she is both revealed and hidden. Gallagher sorts through the facts and the myths, arriving at a sharply drawn portrait of a woman who lived large to the end of her remarkable life and never backed down from a fight.


About the Author

Dorothy Gallagher is the author of Hannah’s Daughters and All the Right Enemies: The Life and Murder of Carlo Tresca, and two volumes of memoirs. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and Grand Street. She lives in New York City.


Praise For Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life (Jewish Lives)

"Unafraid to question Hellman's idealized memoirs, Gallagher (Hannah's Daughters) meets the 'unflaggingly famous' dramatist head on in this pithy biography."—Publishers Weekly

— Publishers Weekly

‘This snappy biography is full of piquant details and entertaining quotations.’—Molly Guinness, The Spectator
— Molly Guinness

"An illuminating and convincing portrait of Lillian Hellman, the real one and the heroically fanciful one."—Playbill

— Playbill

“Gallagher pounces on and decisively dissects the choicest bits in Hellman’s colorful and contrary life of artistic excellence and blinkered radicalism, self-mythologizing and egregious lies, creating a fast-flowing, deeply provocative portrait of a seductive, truculent, and audacious literary powerhouse.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist

— Donna Seaman

“Gallagher has shown herself to be an incisive, sharp-edged, darkly humorous writer, and these qualities help engage readers in a study of Lillian Hellman (1905–1984) that might otherwise seem mean-spirited. The author has no personal ax to grind against her subject, as do many of the sources she quotes, but her portrait is all the more devastating since it seems so matter-of-fact.”—Kirkus Reviews

— Kirkus Reviews