Lillian Florence “Lily” Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American playwright, linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes. She was romantically involved for 30 years with mystery and crime writer Dashiell Hammett (and was the inspiration for his character Nora Charles), and was also a long-time friend and literary executor of author Dorothy Parker.
Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana into a Jewish family. Her father was Max Hellman, a New Orleans shoe salesman, and her mother was Julia Newhouse of Demopolis, Alabama. Julia Newhouse's parents were Leonard Newhouse, a Demopolis liquor dealer, and Sophie Marx, of a successful Jewish Demopolis banking family. The discord between the Marx and Hellman families was to later serve as the inspiration for Hellman's play, The Little Foxes.
Although her mother and most of her family had converted to Christianity, from a young age Hellman attended both St. Louis Cathedral and Temple Beth Israel. During most of her childhood she spent half of each year in New Orleans, in a boarding home run by her aunts, and the other half in New York City.