Research into Martha Gellhorns life


General background

Cupcakes and Kalashnikov’s: 100 Years of the Best Journalism By Women. Noami Wolf and Eleanor Mills. 2005.

‘Quitting university after just a year, Gellhorn had a prodigious start to her writing career, contributing to publications including the New Republic whilst still in her late teens. Determined to become a foreign correspondent, she then moved to France in her twenties to work for the United Press bureau in Paris.

Thus started a brilliant career, which saw Gellhorn bring her pacifist-tinged views to reports on conflicts ranging from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam, and, finally, the wars in Central America. Some of her most striking writing came from the period of World War Two, when, in Gellhorn’s words, she ‘followed the war wherever I could reach it.’ – “Martha Ellis Gellhorn,   (born Nov. 8, 1908, St. Louis, Mo.—died Feb. 15, 1998, London, Eng.), American journalist and novelist who , as one of the first female war correspondents, candidly described ordinary people in times of unrest. Though often remembered for her brief marriage to American author Ernest Hemingway, Gellhorn refused to be a “footnote” to his life; during a career that spanned some six decades, she covered a dozen wars and drew praise for her fictional work. Gellhorn attended Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College but left in 1927 to begin a career as a writer. After contributing to several publications, including The New Republic magazine, Gellhorn took a job with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, touring the U.S. to report on the Great Depression. The Trouble I’ve Seen (1936) is an account of her experiences. In 1937 she accepted her first war assignment, covering the Spanish Civil War for Collier’s Weekly, and it was during this time that she began an affair with Hemingway. He dedicated For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) to her, and they married in 1940 (divorced 1946). Gellhorn traveled the world to report on such events as the Nürnberg trials, the Arab-Israeli wars (1967), and the Vietnam War. In 1944 she impersonated a stretcher bearer to witness the D-Day landings during World War II. Always distrustful of politicians, Gellhorn eloquently championed the cause of the oppressed. Her fictional work, noted for its lean prose, includes the novels A Stricken Field (1939) and The Lowest Trees Have Tops (1967) and a collection of novellas, The Weather in Africa (1978).”

“Asked shortly before her death which war she would have liked to have reported on, Martha Gellhorn, half a century of war reporting behind her, told me: ‘They’re all the same: same obstacles, same disinformation, same terrible warfare. You just have to do your best …” –



Dachau. May 1945. The Face of War.

The Trouble I’ve Seen (1936) is an account of her experiences.

In 1937 she accepted her first war assignment, covering the Spanish Civil War for Collier’s Weekly

The great depression

D-Day landings



Other people’s views

‘Her May 1945 account of the prisoner of war camp, Dachau, is startling in both its detail and humanity.’ – Cupcakes



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