Extraordinary Women

Martha Gellhorn

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Martha Gellhorn became a war correspondent almost by accident when her lover, Ernest Hemingway, urged her to file a report from Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. She wrote about the innocent victims of the war: the civilians who lived in daily fear of being killed by bombs. It was the beginning of a remarkable career spanning some sixty years. Until Martha entered the field, war-reporting was dominated by male journalists but, through her fearlessness and dedication, she earned a place at the top. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she was motivated to write - not about tactics and statistics - but about the devastating effects of war on the lives of civilians. It was a theme she carried from Spain throughout World War Two, to Vietnam and, much later, to America's wars in Guatemala and Panama. But Martha's success came at great cost to her personal life. Her relationships were disastrous and shortlived. Her first marriage, to the writer Ernest Hemingway, ended acrimoniously when it became clear that she could not put her husband before her job. She had several affairs with married men and a painful and difficult relationship with her adopted son. Although American, Martha fell out with her government and spent her whole life looking for somewhere else to settle. She had homes in Mexico, Africa and Britain, ending her life in an apartment in London. She carried on reporting well into her eighties when, half-blind, she travelled alone to Brazil to report on the plight of street-children who were being murdered by death-squads. Martha Gellhorn was committed to reporting the truth and she worked hard for her reputation as one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.
 

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