Archive: Martha Gellhorn

Inside the archives of one of the world’s greatest war correspondents.

“‘Why should I be a footnote to somebody else’s life?’ she famously asked.”

In 1937, at the age of 29, Martha Gellhorn left for Madrid with a knapsack of clothes, a contract with Collier’s magazine to write about the Spanish Civil War and little else. She had $50 in her pocket and no bank account. This was to be her break free.

Born in St. Louis, Gellhorn had graduated from the all-women’s Bryn Mawr College in a tony Philadelphia suburb, placed a few articles in The New Republic and signed on as a crime reporter at the Albany Times Union in upstate New York. She’d been raised in a particularly progressive manner—her father, a gynecologist, seeing that her biology class textbooks in high school blurred out the anatomically explicit parts, petitioned her school to have them made more accurate; her mother, an outspoken advocate of women’s voting rights, ...

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