Playwright Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans on June 20, in 1905. After studying at New York and Columbia Universities, Hellman worked in publishing and as a book reviewer and play-reader. In 1934, Hellman had her first success as a playwright with The Children's Hour. In the play, Hellman mixed social, political, and moral issues along with more personal ones. Among some of Hellman's other successful plays are The Little Foxes, Watch on the Rhine, The Searching Wind, and Toys in the Attic. Hellman was also a screenwriter who wrote many film scripts and adapted the works of other authors for film and the stage. Hellman's memoirs include An Unfinished Woman and Pentimento. For more than 30 years Hellman had a relationship with "hard-boiled" detective writer Dashiell Hammett. She lived with him until his death in 1961, and shared his commitment to radical political causes. Hellman's appearance before Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 resulted in her being blacklisted in Hollywood. Her book, Scoundrel Time, explores her experiences during the McCarthy era. Nearly blind and confined to a wheelchair, Lillian Hellman died of cardiac arrest in 1984.
Wendy Wasserstein was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 18, 1950. She received an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, an M.A. at City College of New York and a M.F.A. at Yale University's School of Drama. A one-act play not only served as her M.F.A. thesis but became the basis for her successful full-length work, Uncommon Women and Others (1977). Her other plays include Isn't It Romantic, The Sisters Rosensweig, and Old Money. The Heidi Chronicles (1989) received numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony, the New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for most outstanding play by a woman, and the Hull-Warriner Award for the best play dealing with a controversial subject. She also wrote the screenplay for the 1998 film The Object of My Affection, the children's book Pamela's First Musical, a spoof of self-help literature entitled Sloth, a novel entitled Elements of Style, and two collections of personal essays entitled Bachelor Girls and Shiksa Goddess. She died of lymphoma on January 30, 2006 at the age of 55.
Garry Wills, 1934 - Garry Wills was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1934. Wills received a B.A. from St. Louis University in 1957, an M.A. from Xavier University of Cincinnati in 1958, an M.A. (1959) and a Ph.D. (1961) in classics from Yale. Wills was a junior fellow of the Center for Hellenic Studies from 1961-62, an associate professor of classics and adjunct professor of humanities at Johns Hopkins University from 1962-80. Wills was the first Washington Irving Professor of Modern American History and Literature at Union College, and was also a Regents Professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Silliman Seminarist at Yale, Christian Gauss Lecturer at Princeton, W.W. Cook Lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School, Hubert Humphrey Seminarist at Macalester College, Welch Professor of American Studies at Notre Dame University and Henry R. Luce Professor of American Culture and Public Policy at Northwestern University (1980-88). Wills is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and his articles appear frequently in The New York Review of Books. Wills is the author of "Lincoln at Gettysburg," which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1993 and the NEH Presidential Medal, "John Wayne's America," "A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government" and "The Kennedy Imprisonment." Other awards received by Wills include the National Book Critics Award, the Merle Curti Award of the organization of American Historians, the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale Graduate School, the Harold Washington Book Award and the Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, which was for writing and narrating the 1988 "Frontline" documentary "The Candidates."