Florence King on Lillian Hellman

Miss King reviewed Hellman and Hammett by Joan Mellen, about the affair between authors Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett.

Like many feminist icons, Lillian Hellman never got asked to the prom. To put it bluntly, she was ugly. How she worked her way into Hammett’s life is unclear, at least from the review, but it might have something to do with the fact that she didn’t run when he punched her in the jaw on their second date.

Hammett was rather a jerk. He had constant affairs, was usually drunk, beat her, insulted her constantly, and in general acted like a swine. The stories of the “love affairs” of leftists are generally object lessons in why one should wait for marriage before having sex; he promised to get a divorce and marry her if she got pregnant by him, but when she did, he made her get an abortion instead.

She probably put up with it because she was trying to steal his writing ability. After he became involved with her, he never wrote another book. His career was destroyed. He did, however, write two famous plays: The Children’s Hour and The Little Foxes, both of which Hellman put her own name to. Soon he was forced to be supported by Hellman’s profitable screenwriting career, which was based on her fraudulent credit for the two plays he wrote.

A few years later Hammett, a communist, was jailed for contempt of court when he refused to name names during the McCarthy thing. She abandoned him and left the country till things blew over.

After his death, she wrote mendacious memoirs that depicted her relationship with Hammett as a beautiful romance, and threatened anyone who wrote a biography of Hammett with lawsuits if they disputed her claims.


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