Monday 9 November 2009

Letter to Lillian Hellman in the Lindsay Anderson Archive

Sometimes you come across a letter so unexpected that it just lights up the whole day. This happened to me on Friday whilst cataloguing a series of material in the Lindsay Anderson Collection related to a book he wrote, About John Ford. It's been an incredibly interesting section of material to catalogue anyway, containing transcripts of interviews Anderson carried out with Henry Fonda, Dudley Nichols, and Harry Carey Jr; various handwritten drafts of Anderson's book; and lots of reviews of John Ford films.

The letter which made my day on Friday was Lindsay Anderson writing to Lillian Hellman. It came as a real surprise to me as I didn't know that they had met. Although I had heard of Hellman's plays it was actually through her autobiographical book Pentimento that I first got to know about her. I know she is a controversial figure who is said to have invented her biography to varying degrees, depending on which critic you believe, but she was such a wonderfully strong character that I can't help but admire her. There is also a letter in the same file which Lillian Hellman wrote to Anderson in which she says 'It would give me great pleasure if you were ever interested in directing it[The Little Foxes]' (Lillian Hellman writing to Lindsay Anderson, 29/04/1981) - I wish that this had happened!

Section of a letter from Lindsay Anderson to Lillian Hellman, LA/4/3/16/8
© Lindsay Anderson Collection, University of Stirling Archives

The Lillian Hellman papers are at the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas.

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