The Little Foxes

About the Play

First Production

1939, National Theatre, Broadway, New York

Cast Breakdown
6F, 4M
Drama, Melodrama,
Three acts

Acting edition available through Dramatists’ Play Service. Anthologized in Plays by American Women 1930-1960. Ed. Judith Barlow. New York: Applause Books, 2001 and elsewhere


Set in Alabama in 1900, the play tells the saga of the Hubbard family, who have lied, cheated, beaten, and killed their way to the top for generations. With the rise of industrialization, they want to keep that way—they’ve drawn up plans for a new cotton mill. Regina Hubbard, married to the sickly Horace Giddens, wants her piece of the profits, but as a woman, she is left out—until she improvises her own stunningly manipulative plan—one that might cost her more than she could ever imagine.


Hellman based the play in part on stories she had heard about her ancestors and on extensive research into the time period. “Foxes was the most difficult play I ever wrote,” she said, and she spent months re-writing the script.

The play opened to strong, if reserved reviews. Critic Richard Watts, Jr. considered it “fine and American important drama,” and while Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times called it a “vibrant drama” he considered it “second rank” behind The Children’s Hour. Nevertheless, The Little Foxes has become Hellman’s most popular and revived play.

Scenes from the Play

The Little Foxes, Act 2, Regina and Horace
(1 W, 1 M) Regina and Horace quarrel upon his return from the hospital and discuss their estranged marriage.    View Scene

The Little Foxes, Act 3, Birdie gets drunk
(3 W, 1 M) Birdie has too much to drink and reveals the truth about her feelings towards her son and husband.  View Scene

The Little Foxes, Act 3, Regina and Alexandra
(2 W) Alexandra finally cuts ties with her overbearing mother, Regina.  View Scene

The Little Foxes, Act 3, Regina and Horace
(1 W, 1 M) Horace tries to take revenge on his wife Regina for her cruel behavior, but she regains the upper hand. View Scene

About the Playwright

Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) ranks among the most famous and controversial of American playwrights. She never shied away from provocative, social justice-based themes. Her first play, The Children’s Hour (1934), about two owners of a girls’ school accused of having a lesbian affair, was considered so shocking that some members of the Pulitzer Prize committee refused to see it, costing it a nomination. Toys in the Attic (1960) featured two eccentric Southern sisters whose potential was never value…
View Profile

One Play at a Time Participating Universities

Cheryl Black
University of Missouri
Maya Cantu
Bennington College
Claire Chambers
Sogang University
Carla Corona
Antelope Valley College
Bonnie Milne Gardner
Ohio Wesleyan University
Carolyn Grimstead
Long Island University, Post
Laura Lodewyck
North Central College
Robert Thompson
Chesapeake College
Join & ParticipateTell Us Your Experience

Tell us your experience


* indicates a required field.

Tell us your experience on our social media platforms:

Stay tuned for more play summaries
in the coming months.