Martha Gellhorn


War correspondent Martha Gellhorn might have been just that if history had recorded her only as Ernest Hemingway’s wife. Instead she made her mark as a renowned journalist and novelist whose career spanned almost 60 years and saw her cover every major conflict in her lifetime from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam to the U.S. invasion of Panama. Gellhorn was born in 1908, the daughter of a suffragist. She dropped out of Bryn Mawr college in 1927 to pursue a career in journalism, and moved to Paris in 1930 with the hopes of becoming a foreign correspondent.

Later, Gellhorn returned to the United States and became an investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, documenting the impact of the Great Depression. Her reports caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt–who was First Lady at the time–and the two became friends.

Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway in 1936 and traveled with him to cover the Spanish Civil War. She married Hemingway in 1940, but the two split up in 1945–evidence suggests Hemingway was resentful of Gellhorn prioritizing her career over him. Gellhorn, meanwhile, went on to cover the D-Day landings, the liberation of Dachau, the Vietnam War, and traveled extensively in South America during the 1980s.


"I have no intention of being a footnote in someone else's life."

By 1998, Gellhorn had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had spread to her liver. Deciding to end her life on her own terms, she committed suicide.

Gellhorn resented being known as “Hemingway’s third wife,” and insisted that he not be mentioned during interviews. On one occasion, she said, “I’ve been a writer for over 40 years. I was a writer before I met him and I was a writer after I left him. Why should I be merely a footnote in his life?” Learn more: On Wikipedia On Biography.com


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