The Children's Hour

Definition

Theater

  • The first play by the US dramatist Lillian Hellman,dealing with the then controversial subject of lesbianism. It waspremiered in 1934 in New York and two years later in London; the filmversion (1961) starred Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn.

    Set in New England, the story involves Karen and Martha, twofriends who run a small boarding school for girls. Their neuroticstudent Mary Tilford runs home to her grandmother, Amelia Tilford,and justifies this by accusing the two women of being lesbians. MrsTilford withdraws Mary and other parents do the same as the rumourspreads. Karen's fiancé, Dr Joseph Cardin, is able to findinconsistencies in Mary's story, but she blackmails a fellow pupilinto corroborating her lie. The school goes bankrupt and closes. DrCardin proposes to Karen but she now has doubts about her sexual preferences.Martha, suffering from the same doubts, commits suicide. Mrs Tilfordfinally discovers the lie and offers Karen money, but it is too late.

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