Read e-book online Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life PDF

By Dorothy Gallagher

Glamorous, gifted, audacious—Lillian Hellman knew every body, did every thing, have been in every single place. by way of the age of twenty-nine she had written The Children’s Hour, the first of 4 hit Broadway performs, and shortly she was once thought of a member of America’s first rank of dramatists, a place she maintained for greater than twenty-five years. except her literary accomplishments—eight unique performs and 3 volumes of memoirs—Hellman lived a wealthy lifestyles full of awesome friendships, debatable political job, shuttle, and amorous affairs, most significantly with Dashiell Hammett. yet by the point she died, the reality approximately her existence and works have been known as into query. Scandals connected to her identify, having to do with intercourse, with cash, and along with her personal veracity.
 
Dorothy Gallagher confronts the conundrum that used to be Lillian Hellman—a girl with a ability to encourage outrage as usually as admiration. Exploring Hellman’s leftist politics, her Jewish and Southern historical past, and her recognized testimony earlier than the home Un-American actions Committee, Gallagher additionally undertakes a brand new interpreting of Hellman’s conscientiously crafted memoirs and performs, within which she is either published and hidden. Gallagher kinds throughout the proof and the myths, arriving at a sharply drawn portrait of a girl who lived huge to the top of her notable existence and not subsidized down from a fight.

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I love you very much. . Certainly I’m coming back & if you want me sooner I’ll leave right away. . ”27 And, “I dreamed 45 li lli a n hellma n about you last night. . I think about you too much. ”28 She spoke about having children with him. Hellman was keeping her options open. She was writing to Hammett, too. He did not keep her letters, but she kept his. Hammett wrote teasingly, offering himself in one sentence, withdrawing in the next; speaking of love, and mocking it: “The emptiness I thought was hunger for chow mein turned out to be for you, so maybe a cup of beef tea.

Moses Marx, a young man from Bavaria, perhaps Isaac’s youngest brother, also lived with them and clerked in Isaac’s store. In the same census Isaac, when asked the value of his real and personal property, gave the figure of $23,000. This made him far from the wealthiest man in town—the great wealth was held by the planters—but he was equally far from the poorest. His real property would have included the value of his store, and of the house which he had by then built for his family. Some fraction of his personal property—in the vicinity of four 23 li lli a n hellma n or five thousand dollars—inhered in the value of his five slaves, who were listed only by sex and age.

The Children’s Hour ran on Broadway for more than two years, and when the Pulitzer Prize Committee gave the prize to an adaptation of an Edith Wharton story, The Old Maid, the New York drama critics created the Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and gave one to Hellman. She was twenty-nine and famous. In the middle of the Depression, Sam Goldwyn offered her $2,500 a week to write screenplays; she was rich. She had more lovers than she could easily juggle: Herman Shumlin would soon be her lover, also the editor and publisher, Ralph Ingersoll, Hammett, of course, the producer 50 t h e w ri ti ng li f e: 1 9 3 3 –1 9 8 4 and director Jed Harris, Arthur Kober from time to time, and others as the fancy took her.

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