In her 20s, Martha Gellhorn filed dispatches from the frontline of the Spanish Civil War. In her 80s, she reported on the invasion of Panama. Cody Delistraty delves into the archives of one of the world’s greatest war correspondents—and explains why she succeeded despite, not because of, her famous husband.
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,
Photography:Courtesy of Scanpix Denmark
This story appears in a print issue of Kinfolk. You’re welcome to read three stories from each print issue of Kinfolk for free. To continue reading this story, click here.
If you'd like to enjoy unlimited access to our online archive, subscribe here. If you’re already a subscriber, please sign in.
Alternatively, keep browsing Kinfolk.com to enjoy more free content.