Serious, careful, honest journalism is
essential, not because it is a guiding light but because it is a form of honorable
behavior, involving the reporter and the reader.(Gellhorn,1959)
Women reporting the news today from Bosnia or any other hot spot is not unusual. 60 years ago, it was. The days when a female journalist was considered a contradiction in terms is long past thanks to the pioneering efforts of women like Martha Gellhorn.
Today she is not considered a misfit. Her work as a war correspondent covering the Spanish Civil War to the U.S invasion of Panama at age 81 earned her the respect of the media world. Only when the Bosnian war broke out in the 1990's did she concede she was to old to go. "You need to be nimble, " she said. The London Daily Telegraph hailed Gellhorn as "one of the great war correspondents of the century; brave, fierce and wholly committed to the truth of the situation."
"All politicians are bores and liars and fakes. I talk to people, " she said. Throughout her career, she focused on war's civilian victims and those fighting to survive. She avoided the "big brass" and chose instead the company of soldiers.
Though best known for her groundbreaking journalism, she was also an accomplished fiction writer, author of 5 novels, 14 novellas and 2 collections of short stories.
During her time in Spain she met Ernest Hemingway, also in Spain as a correspondent; they married in 1940, he becoming her second husband and she his third wife. The marriage lasted five years, ending when Gellhorn left Hemingway, the only of his wives to do so.
Looking back on her life in later years she remarked, "I'm overprivileged. I've had a wonderful life. I didn't deserve it but I've had it."
This page last Updated 3 December 1998