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How about The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman? It is later than the time fram you want, as it is from 1934. But the theme is one of gossip, and how it destroys the lives of the people concerned. The story concerns the lies of a schoolgirl about a ficticious lesbian affair between two women who run a boarding school. Because of the willingness of adults to believe the child's lies and spread the gossip, lives are destroyed and a suicide results. An early movie of the play (instead called These Three) couldn't use the context of homosexuality due to the movie codes of the times, and instead made the "scandal" a heterosexual love triangle.
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