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Author photo. Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (cropped) (jfklibrary.org)

Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998)

Author of Travels with Myself and Another: A Memoir

Includes the names: M. Gellhorn, Martha Gelhorn, Martha Gellhorn

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Short biography
Martha Gellhorn's parents were a physician and an advocate for women's right to vote. She attended a progressive private school her parents founded in St. Louis, then went to Bryn Mawr College, leaving in 1927 to write for The New Republic. She then got a job as a crime reporter in Albany, New York. In 1930, she went to Europe, paying for the boat trip by writing a brochure for the Holland American Line. In Paris, she met French writer Bertrand de Jouvenel, whom she may have married. She returned with him to St. Louis and then traveled the American Southwest as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her first novel, What Mad Pursuit (1934), attracted the attention of Harry Hopkins, a close advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who hired Gellhorn to travel the USA as a field investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and write about the effects of the Great Depression. The resulting work, The Trouble I've Seen (1936), is now one of her most famous. Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway, whose writing she admired, in Key West, Florida, in 1936. When he told her he was going to Spain to cover the Civil War there, she decided to go, too. She arrived in Madrid in 1937 on assignment for Collier's Weekly. The couple soon became lovers and married in 1940. She took Hemingway along with her to China to cover the Chinese Army's retreat from the Japanese invasion. During World War II, she covered the Soviet attack on Finland, the German Blitz attacks on London, and the Allied D-Day invasion of Europe. "She wrote passionately about the dreadful impact of war on the innocent," the Washington Post said in her obituary. She witnessed the Allied liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau, and her article became one of the most famous accounts of the discovery of the camps. After the war, Gellhorn divorced Hemingway and lived in several countries, from France and Italy to Cuba, Mexico, and Kenya, before settling in the UK. She covered the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and the conflicts in Vietnam, Panama, and El Salvador. She also wrote more fiction, including The Honeyed Peace (1953) and Two by Two (1958). Her novellas were popular, and were published in collections including The Weather in Africa (1988) and The Novellas of Martha Gellhorn (1993). Her memoir Travels With Myself and Another, was published in 1978. In 1953 she married her third husband, T.S. Matthews, a former managing editor at Time Magazine. She gave birth to one son, George Alexander Gellhorn, whom she raised herself, and adopted a son from an Italian orphanage. She committed suicide at age 89. Her selected letters were published posthumously in 2006.
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