American playwright and memoirist, who had a lifelong relationship with the mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. Many of the characters in her works were based on her own family members. Despite writing only 12 plays, Hellman was a leading voice in American theatre.
She became a writer at a time when writers were celebrities and their recklessness was admirable. Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Hammett, Lillian Hellman was a smoker, a drinker, a lover, and a fighter. Hellman maintained a social and political life as large and restless as her talent. While her plays were a constant challenge to injustice, her memoirs were personal accounts of the exciting and turbulent life behind the art.