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Creator / Lillian Hellman

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"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."
Lillian Hellman, before the House Un-American Activities Committee

"Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"
Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman

Lillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (1905 – 1984) was an American playwright and screenwriter. She achieved her greatest success writing dramatic plays for Broadway in the 1930s and 1940s.

Hellman was known for her strong left-wing views and activism. She was briefly a member of the Communist Party. During the Red Scare era, Hellman was targeted by The Hollywood Blacklist and refused to name names.

By the 1970s, Hellman was widely regarded as a hero for having taken a stand against the blacklist. During this time, she published her memoirs. One chapter of her 1973 memoir Pentimento formed the basis for the 1977 film Julia, starring Jane Fonda as a young Lillian Hellman.

In 1979, Mary McCarthy accused Hellman of being a Consummate Liar and Hellman sued for defamation. McCarthy produced evidence of Hellman's dishonesty. Most notably, evidence mounted that the "Julia" chapter in Pentimento was Based on a Great Big Lie. Hellman died before the issue could be settled in court.


Although Hellman's writing is still respected, the controversy over her dishonesty went a long way to overshadowing and tarnishing her prior reputation as an anti-McCarthyite heroine, leaving her with a mixed legacy.

Works by Lillian Hellman with their own trope pages include:

Other works by Lillian Hellman contain examples of: