Illustration by Maria Manhattan
Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 20, 1905. She spent her early days moving back and forth between New Orleans and New York. She studied at New York University and Columbia, but she left school before graduation, immersing herself in the bohemian lifestyle of a writer, artist, and political activist. By the early 1930s, Hellman started a lasting and intimate friendship with Dashiell Hammett, a mystery writer and author of The Maltese Falcon who encouraged her to write her first successful play. Hellman is best known for dramas such as The Children’s Hour, which explores the power of a lie; The Little Foxes, a chilling study of greed; Watch on the Rhine, one of her anti-fascist works; and Julia, a film based on her memoirs.