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The Children's Hour

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  9,764 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest for everyone
Paperback, 124 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Kessinger Publishing (first published January 1st 1953)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Petra Eggs
This book brings back memories of what a bad girl I was in school. When I left I was very pissed off, I'd been expelled yet again (drunkenness from mixing rum with yoghurt for lunch, conducting the school choir quite literally behind the headmistress's back, cheating in exams - took me ages to get caught, I already had a job and a place in art college and my father wouldn't let me leave school) and I so wanted my own back.

I went to an extremely academic girls' school where there was a very small
...more
Eve
Apr 11, 2014 Eve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
About 8 years ago, I had a sort of emotional crisis. I just couldn't deal with the compounded pressures of life, and most especially the breakdown of an intimate relationship, along with the sudden onset of serious illness of a parent. I quit my job, and camped out on my bed for a month watching the AMC and TCM network nonstop. I'm sure you're picturing an unbathed, unshaven me, in weeks old Garfield pajamas, and dirty cereal bowls piled precariously high on one nightstand. I assure you, it was ...more
Jen
I remember being floored by this play when I first read it in high school, not the least reason being we were assigned to read a play with a lesbian theme in a Catholic school. I would say that this is similar to "The Crucible" with a lesbian relationship substituting for witchcraft--except Hellman's play was written 18 years before Miller's. Ultimately it's about the devastating effects of malicious gossip.

I read online that Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss (from 'Mad Men') starred in a Lond
...more
Lori
Abigail Williams (The Crucible) is one of the most hateful literary characters I've ever come across - she's high up on my top 5. Mary Tilford, the little demon, may just have kicked Abigail down a notch on my Characters I Hate the Most list. Although this is a work of fiction, it is scary to think how very possible it is for a bully to intimidate others into spinning a web of lies that can ruin people's personal and professional lives. How someone who has always done right by everyone and worke ...more
Rosie
Nov 01, 2015 Rosie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: educational
I had to read this for my Uni Acting For Stage module in which I am directing and excerpt from this piece. I really enjoyed it! I'm really excited to get down and do some directing and hopefully we will all do really well!

The play is set in a boarding school for girls where a particularly bratty student starts a viscious rumour about two of the teachers.

It provides great social commentary and touches on the themes of LGBTQ+, secrecy, lies, suicide, gender and family.

A great read!
Josh Kight
This play has really stood the test of time to become one of the most horrifying and saddening plays ever written. Readers need to understand that the play is less about lesbianism and more about a specific lie. Maybe Hellman did consider lesbianism just a plot device. But "unnatural" love and society's disapproval of it are fundamental to the play, just as anti-Semitism is central to The Merchant of Venice. Readers still argue over whether Shakespeare was criticizing or endorsing the prejudice ...more
Steph
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
May 30, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, play-film
Lillian Hellman's great play "A Children's Hour" is the story of two women who run a private school for girls and whose lives are ruined by the evil and vindictive accusations of one of their students. The implications of lesbianism and society's intolerance for differences are among the many themes addressed in this fine work. I believe it is timeless but others may see it as dated. Guilt by accusation remains as much a part of our society as ever...sadly. The inference that homosexuality is eq ...more
Ellen
Nov 15, 2009 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wonderfully evil, and so much better, I believe, than Miller's play, The Crucible on the same theme. The movie version of Heller's play has held up well.
Arielle
Compelling. This play is largely character driven and driven by an event caused by a large and dangerous shortcoming or one character. This character lies. The personalities of the characters are prevalent very early on. Hints are given about the characters and the state of their constitution from the very start of the play. The smallest events seem to add to the big picture of who each character is, so by the end of the first act, the reader knows exactly who each character is, the way they thi ...more
Roxanne
Summary: Martha and Karen are best friends running a school for girls in the early thirties. They have a very close relationship, and their extremely manipulative pupil, Mary, decides to play with this well known fact and start a rumor that they are intimately involved. This rumor starts total uproar as their lives, as they once knew them, are destroyed through prejudice and the power of gossip.
Why it was meaningful: This is an incredibly well written play, absolutely incredible. It blows my mi
...more
MariLisa
Jan 13, 2011 MariLisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Javiera
Dec 15, 2015 Javiera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is frightening in so many ways. I teach in an all-girl high school and I have seen how gossiping can be so damaging but what it pains me the most it is the fact that most girls don't realize how their words can change somebody's life, usually for the worse.

Like Mary, everything is a game where they have to win no matter what, but behind their "victories" there is the worst side of human behavior. And like Karen, you try to make them realize that but sometimes it is a lost battle becau
...more
Jonathan
Jul 26, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Our setting is a school run by two women, friends since college. When they punish Mary, one of the students, for faking a heart attack, she runs to her grandma and tells her about how the two women are lesbians. It's an interesting, certainly sad story once everything plays out, but it never reaches the emotional height I was preparing myself for. Mary is perhaps the best character, incredibly devilish and controlling, but her disappearance from the second half weakens the whole structure--no on ...more
Alana
Dec 02, 2015 Alana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-to-film, play
A tragic story of how an angry, malicious lie can lead to absolute, far-reaching destruction for many people. It reminded me of the storyline of Atonement (at least the movie: I haven't been able to get through the book yet). Rumors spread and listened to, acted upon, can have disastrous consequences, and letting children get spoiled and not making them take responsibility for their actions can be just as detrimental.
3/5
Morgan M. Page
Sep 02, 2016 Morgan M. Page rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour (1934) proves itself to be of perennial relevance. From HUAC to the Tumblrized call out culture of the 2010s, the little liars and exaggerators like Mary Tilford bully and blacklist and attempt to destroy anyone who gets in their way. THAT SAID, isn't it kind of funny that Lillian Hellman's most important play was all about the dangers of lying while the writer herself was accused of making up and exaggerating sections of her own memoirs? Although, to be fai ...more
Annie
Jul 17, 2011 Annie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
When I took part in a production of this play in december, 2010, we discussed thoroughly the power of a lie. A lie told convincingly has the power to alter the opinions one holds of another. But an expertly crafted lie can also cause the victim to doubt themselves:"Why is it that so many people are so willing to believe this lie? Is there some truth within this lie?" A challenging play I was proud to take part in, even if I was only in the first scene).
Sabrina
Jan 02, 2012 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-classics
Rumor has it...... Classic story of what can happen when a lie and a rumor gets out of hand. I kept hoping that an adult would see past the lies of a spoiled little girl.
Craig
Sep 14, 2013 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-2011
A solid reminder of the historical struggle of the LGBT community to be contributing, respected members of society.
Berit
May 04, 2008 Berit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminiscent of Henry James' Bostonians, though this play is both wittier and more overtly tragic. Life sure has changed since 1934 (thank goodness!).
Brina
Dec 13, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
It is 1934 and world is becoming polarized into two factions- fascism and communism. During the period between the two world wars, the United States maintained the stance of isolationism, not wanting to become involved in others' conflicts. In Europe, however, people who were regarded as different were already persecuted in the years leading up to World War II. It is in this light that New Orleans born Lillian Hellman penned her debut play The Children's Hour, about a vicious girl who falsely ac ...more
Lizzie
Jan 05, 2017 Lizzie rated it it was ok
Shelves: university-books
(2.5 stars)

I have to say I was slightly disappointed in this play. It is another book I had to read for university and it just did not capture my attention at all. I felt the character of Mary had no redeeming qualities whatsoever (something I feel every character should at least have one of) and the entire play just seemed to resolve to nothing. I have seen a lot of great reviews for this play on here and so maybe it just wasn't to my taste (someone said they thought it was a lot like Atonement
...more
Jonathan
Oh my God. This play is not for the faint of heart. I think everyone should read one book a year that makes them want to kill themselves and this one is that one for me. And it is so masterfully done! Hellman uses German expressionism in this play along with some Bible names and references to drive her points home. Nothing in this play is as it seems. The children are not innocent. Half of the adults act like children. The worst child in the play acts like how I would imagine a young Donald Trum ...more
Rachel
A harrowing play about how the lives and relationships of Martha Dobie and Karen Wright are changed when accused by a pupil of having a romantic relationship. It's a timeless play in that it explores the damaging effects of gossip and lies. And boy, did I hate Mary. I don't think there's very many fictional characters I hated as much as her in the span of 60+ pages.
Rachel
Nov 04, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
*3.5 stars*
Again, I read this for class and it was a fun little play. It reminded me of The Crucible at some parts, and I wasn't blown away by this but it was enjoyable to read and discuss for a couple of days.
Daniel
Dec 01, 2016 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eric Hinkle
Nov 04, 2016 Eric Hinkle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. That's all I can say.
Kathy
Jan 11, 2017 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The notes on this site say this was first published in the 1950's, though the copy I just read was published in 1934. This story was inspired by events that took place in 1810. In so many ways this play is timeless as it plays on how fast lives can fall apart due to lies, gossip, and bullying.
Brandie
The Children's Hour is a play that takes place mostly at an all girls school on the east coast in the 1950's.

One student, Mary, who is unhappy at the school, sets out to cause trouble. She wants to go back home and not stay at the school, so she decides to tell her grandma that the two young woman in charge are behaving inappropriately. Grandma instantly pulls her out and notifies the other parents.

A second student (who is all but forced to by Mary) corroborates the story.
And what have the wom
...more
Tony
Jul 28, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
THE CHILDREN’S HOUR. (1934). Lillian Hellman. ****.
Hellman (1905-1984) burst on to the Broadway scene with this, her first play. It was extremely popular, running for over two years. The draw was in its taboo subject: lesbianism. Most of the action occurs in the Wright-Dobie School for Girls in the small town of Lancet. It is a relatively new business run by two young women who have been working hard to make it a success. They are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel after years of scr
...more
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66241
Lillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American dramatist and screenwriter famously blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) at the height of the anti-communist campaigns of 1947–52.

Hellman was praised for sacrificing her career by refusing to answer questions by HUAC; but her denial that she had ever belonged to the Communist Party was e
...more
More about Lillian Hellman...

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