The play I've chosen for August features the themes of small battles and little battles: it's a feminist piece with humour.
by Steven Carl McCasland
In 1980, Mary McCarthy told Dick Cavett that "everything Lillian Hellman says is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." She also claimed to know a woman who could prove it. And with those words, a legendary literary feud began.
In Little Wars, it's France, 1940. Tensions are high. The booze is flowing. War is coming. Inspired by one of the literary world's most famous scandals, Little Wars features Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Alice B. Toklas and Muriel Gardiner having the best what-if dinner party imaginable.
Together they'll drink, scoff and face their demons. Everyone has a confession. Someone has a secret.
Lillian Florence Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American playwright, author, and screenwriter known for her success on Broadway, as well as her communist sympathies and political activism.
Dorothy Parker (née Rothschild; August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, writer, critic, and satirist based in New York; she was best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.
Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector. Stein moved to Paris in 1903, and made France her home for the remainder of her life. She hosted a Paris salon, where the leading figures of modernism in literature and art, such as would meet.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, The Mousetrap, which was performed in the West End from 1952 to 2020, as well as six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. In 1971, she was made a Dame (DBE) for her contributions to literature. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies.
In August 1926, Archie asked Agatha for a divorce. He had fallen in love with Nancy Neele, a friend of Major Belcher. On 3 December 1926, the pair quarrelled after Archie announced his plan to spend the weekend with friends, unaccompanied by his wife. Late that evening, Christie disappeared from their home. The following morning, her car was discovered at Newlands Corner, parked above a chalk quarry with an expired driving licence and clothes inside. On 14 December 1926, she was located at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire, registered as Mrs Tressa Neele (the surname of her husband's lover). The next day, Christie left for her sister's residence, where she was sequestered "in guarded hall, gates locked, telephone cut off, and callers turned away".
Alice Babette Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967) was an American-born member of the Parisian avant-garde of the early 20th century, and the life partner of American writer Gertrude Stein.
Muriel Gardiner Buttinger (née Morris; November 23, 1901 – February 6, 1985) was an American psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Her story is based on fact.