Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman Biography

Lillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American author of plays, screenplays, and memoirs and throughout her life, was linked with many left-wing political causes.

Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, into a Jewish family. Her mother was Julia Newhouse of Demopolis, Alabama and her father was Max Hellman, a New Orleans shoe salesman. Julia Newhouse's parents were Sophie Marx, of a successful banking family, and Leonard Newhouse, a Demopolis liquor dealer. During most of her childhood she spent half of each year in New Orleans, in a boarding home run by her aunts, and the other half in New York City. She studied for two years at New York University and then took several courses at Columbia University.

On December 31, 1925, Hellman married Arthur Kober, a playwright and press agent, although they often lived apart. In 1929, she traveled around Europe for a time and settled in Bonn to continue her education. She felt an initial attraction to a Nazi student group that advocated "a kind of socialism" until their questioning about her Jewish ties made their antisemitism clear, and she returned immediately to the United States. Years later she wrote, "Then for the first time in my life I thought about being a Jew."

Beginning in 1930, for about a year she earned $50 a week as a reader for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood, writing summaries of novels and periodical literature for potential screenplays. While there she met and fell in love with a mystery writer, Dashiell Hammett. She divorced Kober and returned to New York City in 1932. When she met Hammett in a Hollywood restaurant, she was 24 and he was 36. They maintained their relationship off and on for 30 years until his death in January 1961.

Lillian Hellman Comments

Lillian Hellman Quotes

I'm good at embroidery. It's what I always wanted to do.... Yep, instead of whoring, I just wanted to do fancy embroidery.

... some people are democrats by choice, and some by necessity.

Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were so often patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth-century France and England, or twentieth-century Russia and America.

Success isn't everything but it makes a man stand straight.

They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.

I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.

It's an indulgence to sit in a room and discuss your beliefs as if they were a juicy piece of gossip.

It is a mark of many famous people that they cannot part with their brightest hour.

It is a mark of many famous people that they cannot part with their brightest hour.

Courtesy is breeding. Breeding is an excellent thing. Always remember that.

You can always spot clothes made in a good place.

The world is out of shape ... when there are hungry men.

Lillian Hellman Popularity

Lillian Hellman Popularity

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