The effects of McCarthyism on the autobiographical writings of Lillian Hellman
From the time that Lillian Hellman appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, her life was changed. Shortly after this experience, the woman who has been called the best woman playwright in America left the genre of drama never to return. Instead Lillian Hellman devoted the rest of her life to writing her memoirs.
The first two books, An Unfinished Woman and Pentimento, written by Hellman in her new genre were quickly accepted by the reading public. However, her third volume, Scoundrel Time, about her experiences with McCarthyism brought her entire body of autobiographical work under close scrutiny by her critics.
The years that have passed since Lillian Hellman published her account of the McCarthy era have left much criticism and many unanswered questions. In spite of all that has been written, Hellman remains an engima; but her battle with McCarthyism remains a central issue in the study of her autobiographical writings.