Few literary celebrities have lived with more abandon and under a brighter spotlight than Lillian Hellman. Even fewer have been doubted as absolutely as Hellman, famously denounced by rival Mary McCarthy. Attacked by critics and idealized by admirers, Hellman’s determination to control and manipulate her image helped make her a figure of unknowable half–truths and rumors. Until now.
Lillian Hellman: A Life with Foxes and Scoundrels is the first biography of the iconoclastic playwright written with the full cooperation of her family, friends, and inner circle. Deborah Martinson moves beyond the myths around Hellman and finds the sassy, outrageous woman committed to writing, to politics, and to having her say. Martinson’s research—through interviews, archives, recently declassified CIA files, and her unprecedented access to Hellman’s confidants—paints the most complete, and surprisingly admiring, portrait of this remarkable writer that we’ve ever had.
Distinctly American—a New Orleans Jew with one foot in Manhattan and one in Hollywood, a writer whose experience spanned the Great Depression, the Cold War, and the Nixon years—Hellman lives again in this riveting biography, facing the world with wit, truth, lies, and chutzpah.