web site hit counter The Children's Hour - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Children's Hour

Availability: Ready to download

This is a serious and adult play about two women who run a school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumour about the two women, the rumour soon turns into a scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is This is a serious and adult play about two women who run a school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumour about the two women, the rumour soon turns into a scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done.


Compare

This is a serious and adult play about two women who run a school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumour about the two women, the rumour soon turns into a scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is This is a serious and adult play about two women who run a school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumour about the two women, the rumour soon turns into a scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done.

30 review for The Children's Hour

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-Eggs Sunny Side Up

    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 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 set of us, just six, who were two years ahead of our grade. Three were swots. The other two were my close friends and as equally boy-mad and bad-minded as I was. So what we did was put an ad in a sort of local entertainment and men's magazine that came out monthly. The ad was about two leather lesbians who liked to punish men. I put down both the headmistress and deputy headmistress's phone numbers. Since I'd left I had no idea what effect the ad had except, ironically, it might have backfired. It was a school joke that Shylock and Fishlips were lezzies. But my grandmother who was friendly with Shylock told me later they really were. They had lived together for years. So I hope they enjoyed themselves, and maybe even made some money :-) What does this have to do with the book? A lot. The book is about the same sort of rumour an evil and manipulative girl starts in her girls' private school, which becomes a scandal and irrepairably destroys the lives of the teachers concerned. Lesbianism was such a wicked concept then, so anti-Christian in a time when people at least paid lip service to the Church, that there seemed to be only one way out... Times change. Lucky for me. Read Dec. 2013 Rewritten Jan 2016

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    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 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 accused two of her teachers of lesbianism. Martha Dobie and Kate Wright had met in college and upon graduation decided to start a boarding school for girls. Less than ten years later, they had raised enough funds from the wealthy to be self sufficient from their benefactors, and were ready to take full ownership of their school. Kate was to be married to long time beau Joe Cardin, who is also the school's doctor. Happy days seemed ahead for the trio, who along with the rest of Boston's Brahmin class, did not appear to be affected by the depression. Before Joe and Kate could enjoy their marriage and honeymoon, student Mary Tilford accuses Kate and Martha of engaging in lesbian affairs. Mary believed that the teachers had been out to get her and complains to her grandmother, school benefactress Mrs. Amelia Tilford. Mrs. Tilford takes the side of her granddaughter, the school shuts down, and Martha, Kate, and Joe are ruined. Only Mary stands to gain from this situation because she returns to her grandmother's care and once again becomes the spoiled child that she is. Throughout history both men and women engaged in endearing same-sex friendships. Hellman writes of lesbianism long before it was acceptable to discuss homosexual relationships in public. Those who were supposed homosexuals were ostracized for the rest of their lives. It appears to me that Hellman may have had an inkling of what was occurring on the other side of the Atlantic at the time of production, as those not in the aryan race were beginning to lose basic human rights. At a time- the Great Depression- when Americans desired upbeat escapes from everyday bleakness, Hellman instead produced a scathing debut play to begin her long, illustrious career. The Children's Hour is a riveting character study that had me on edge to see what happened to both protagonists and antagonistic characters; which changed with each act. By reading classic American plays of the 20th century, I glean much about various time periods from these character studies. I would be interested in reading more of Hellman's works to see if her political stance changes. The Children's Hour, an intense character study, merits a solid four stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Idarah

    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 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 a neater affair, but that's exactly how I felt on the inside. Beaten. I've always been a film geek, and had a passion for the classics, but during this dark period of my life, film took on a deeper, lifelike meaning for me. Sometimes I felt like I'd literally stepped into another time period, and I took comfort in completely losing myself in a director's imaginary playground. I also fondly remember discovering Wes Anderson for the first time. I love that man! I'm sitting here, index finger poised over the backspace key, debating about whether to erase this and start over again, on account of the "naked-in-front-of-the-class-dream-sequence-ish" feeling that's come over me. Waiting. Wait-ing. Bravery won out! It's a good day to be alive. So I've set the scene, and now you know why I was primed to fully appreciate the genius of Hellman's mind! I woke up early one morning during that month, in time to catch a wonderful film called These Three, filmed in 1936, that was based on the play The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, who also wrote the screenplay. The two main characters, a young pair of best friends, have pooled their resources to run a girls' boarding school in a small town. One mean-spirited student starts a vicious rumor about the teachers, that has unforeseeable consequences. Due to content and the audience at that time, Hellman had to revise a major plot element of her play for the screenplay, in order for it to be accepted by a production studio. Later in 1961, director William Wyler took Hellman's original play and created a poignant, atmospheric film gem, starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McClaine. I think what most got to me was that long after you watch these films, or read the play, you will be thinking about it. Although it seems like a pretty simple, straightforward story, it's so complex! Read the play, watch the films, see for yourself. Reading the play for the first time now, I feel this surging protective affection for that scared, beaten person of 8 years ago. Like Karen and Martha in the play, I wish I could tell her that things aren't as bleak as they seem, and that the sun really will come out tomorrow.

  4. 4 out of 5

    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 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 London production of "The Chidren's Hour" in early 2011. I liked this line from the review, how the play acts "as a prescient commentary on how suburban puritanism and its sidekick, gloating prurience, stick their big noses into relationships between teachers and charges, especially today." Gloating prurience! Now there's a band name for ya.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 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 worked their fingers to the bone for a patch of happiness can end up with nothing. If she were real, I think I would track Mary down and choke her with my bare hands!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)

    This tiny play is packed with tension. I knew the basic plot (at a 1930s boarding school for girls, one of the students starts a harmful rumor about the two women who run the school), and technically there's not much that happens beyond that. But Hellman is so skilled at building a creeping, chilling dread, and she creates an interesting portrait of a little girl who compulsively lies. Recommended for a quick, dark read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna Threakall

    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!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    This is my second Hellman play, and I'm definitely interested in more of her work after being mesmerized by this and The Little Foxes. I connected with Martha's character right from the beginning -- her sarcasm, her cynicism, and by the end, her desperation were all wholly real to me. I'm also glad to see I'm not the only one who envisioned a link between Mary Tilford and Abigail Williams from The Crucible. What a spiteful little brat.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I love when lesbian characters are punished for their sins. love it. It was so great to read another book where the dirty lesbian dies. great. love it. ///sarcasm

  10. 4 out of 5

    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 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 Shylock endures, and the homosexual element in The Children's Hour stirs similar debate. The plays depiction of a suicidal lesbian who is ridden with guilt may seem a little old-fashioned, laughable, or even possibly offensive.But The Children's Hour is far less dated than that. Consider the conflicts within the Catholic, Episcopal, and other churches and the efforts around the country to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage. Evangelist Ted Haggard's recent fall from grace illustrates the pain and self-destruction that can result from denying one's nature. Overall, this play strikes a chord with readers and audiences around the globe and surely will live on for quite some time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    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 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 equal to criminality still exists despite the many decades that have past since this was written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lulufrances

    I actually read this play in the big six play collection by Hellman but have since decided to dnf it as I do not want to slog through numerous plays that are essentially boring to me, just to have read the lovely looking book that I had to buy for a play-reading group a few years ago. Alas, I did enjoy this particular play. Witty and tragic.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Exceptional. I first read The Children’s Hour in high school. I remember absolutely loathing Mary. Rereading it as an adult and having a better appreciation for the work and effort it takes to build things like a school and a career, my lack of sympathy towards Mary remains much the same. What disturbed me more on this read, though, were the adult characters. That they blindly follow Mary and see little wrong with destroying the lives of two women based on gossip is a cold and powerful message. In Exceptional. I first read The Children’s Hour in high school. I remember absolutely loathing Mary. Rereading it as an adult and having a better appreciation for the work and effort it takes to build things like a school and a career, my lack of sympathy towards Mary remains much the same. What disturbed me more on this read, though, were the adult characters. That they blindly follow Mary and see little wrong with destroying the lives of two women based on gossip is a cold and powerful message. In this age of public shaming via social media, The Children’s Hour is perhaps more relevant now than when it first premiered. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Terris

    This is a very interesting story of how rumors and lies can destroy people's lives. Karen and Martha run a girls's school, but when a young student becomes upset about being punished for some behavior, she accuses the two teachers of being romantically involved. And you can guess how it all turns out. But even though the reader can see what's coming almost from the start, it is still very sad, and really makes a person think about how all our behaviors can potentially affect others' lives.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie Janson

    Absolutely infuriating in the best way - your outrage will be visceral. The final scene was a bit clumsy and perhaps melodramatic but in the hands of a good director this is a strong show with timeless messages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Wilkey

    Children are the worst.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    read in high school - One of my favorite plays ever.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carla Seravalli

    like I know i say this when I read/watch anything somewhat emotional but goddamn I am in SO MUCH PAIN

  21. 5 out of 5

    E.M. Murren

    This is a devastating account of women who own a school for girls and what happens when a spiteful child decides to tell tales. Brilliant play which has been filmed in various versions over the years. The original is always the best.

  22. 4 out of 5

    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 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 think, see things, and how they function emotionally. None of the characters seem to be oddly extreme (which contributes to how relatable they are), and you don't really "hate" anyone. They are flawed, and you recognize that. Nobody really does anything wrong to be evil (the ones who believe the lie are simply trying to protect the children. The absent characters who can help are just uncomfortable and selfish. Even the lying child is just trying to get out of something she doesn't want to do. She is malicious, but that wasn't the main aim), but nobody really does anything devoid of consequences either. The flow is fantastic. There is a sense of tension in one way or another throughout the entirety of the play. Every character and every word has meaning and adds to the play. Hellman did a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life, providing insight, and making such relatable characters. She takes such a simple concept (a child's lie complicates the lives of four people--and ruins two of them) and creates a complex and compelling read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    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 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 mind that it was written in the early thirties. It was one of the first plays to openly deal with same-sex relationships, which I think is so cool and brave. I am currently involved in a production of this play in Portland playing the character of Mary. Mary is such an interesting character to study. She is so deliciously evil and manipulative, unlike any other character written for a child actor I have encountered. I think even if a reader does not have a strong interest in theatre, this is worth a read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    MariLisa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lillian Hellman wrote this book in the 1930s. It deals with the issue of lesbianism and in its day was considered very risque' (so much so that some theater patrons walked out of the show when they realized it). Even though the story is defined by the character's reactions to the perceived scandal according to 1920s standards of decency, it still resonates truthfully with today's readers/audiences. I suppose this is sad really. 80 years later we are still judgmental of other people and capable o Lillian Hellman wrote this book in the 1930s. It deals with the issue of lesbianism and in its day was considered very risque' (so much so that some theater patrons walked out of the show when they realized it). Even though the story is defined by the character's reactions to the perceived scandal according to 1920s standards of decency, it still resonates truthfully with today's readers/audiences. I suppose this is sad really. 80 years later we are still judgmental of other people and capable of being so cruel to them. The story is simply and beautifully written and the characters are well-defined. The older women, Martha's Aunt Lily and Mrs. Tildford, are particularly memorable because of the judgment they pass and their devastating actions toward Martha and Karen. This play will move you and make you think.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    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 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 one is quite as interesting as the awful little girl, and I missed her in the third act. My rating: 4/5 from http://jonathanlikesbooksblogspot.com

  26. 4 out of 5

    Javiera

    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 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 because society teaches you since you are a kid that you have to be "respected" in a violent way or being just mean. It was a discouraging reading to be honest but it was masterfully executed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alana

    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 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

  28. 5 out of 5

    Morgan M. Page

    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 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 fair, her lies never set out to wantonly destroy others.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    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).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    A fantastic play -- recommended to me many years ago by an old acting coach -- about the nasty repercussions of lies, and just how how easy it is for malicious rumors to be taken as truths and spread throughout a community. Walter Scott summarized this play best several hundred years before it was even published: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave/When first we practise to deceive!"

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.