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Biography of Martha Gellhorn

Martha Ellis Gellhorn famously known as Martha Gellhorn was known to be a novelist of an American origin, a writer as well as a journalist. She was famous mostly because of her journalism skills and the urge to be a foreign reporter made her a global name. She was also referred to as a war correspondent of the 20th century and was the best in what she did. She had an ardent interest in war stories and made sure that she covered each and every war story from around the world. Her stint as a war journalist lasted for around 60 long years. Apart from being a global name for war journalism, she was also famous as the third wife of the world famous American Novelist Ernest Hemingway. The marriage lasted for around five years but it no doubt brought about limelight to her life. She had to face a lot of criticisms from people when they compared her writing along with the writings of her husband. She believed bringing out her voice to the world according to the vision that she saw and not copy her husband just because he was a famous novelist known for his beautiful writing.

Childhood and Early Life

• Martha was born on the 8th of November 1908 to George Gellhorn and Edna Fischel Gellhorn in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother Edna Fischel Gellhorn was a suffragist and her father George Gellhorn was a gynecologist.

• She had two brothers who had great careers and excelled in whatever they did.

• Martha had a rebellious nature and did what she felt was right and these traits flowed through her genes where her mother too was a social activist and believe in letting people enjoy their rights.

• Martha graduated from her high school John Burroughs School in the year 1926 and got herself enrolled in Bryn Mawr College but left midway in the year 1927 to pursue a promising career in Journalism.

• She made sure that her articles were put out for the world to see and thus they got published in The New York Republic and this continued till the year 1930.

• She grasped the various messages that the world conveyed to her and eventually published her very first publication named ‘What Mad Pursuit’ in the year 1934.

• She later came to America to find herself with a job with the Federal Emergency relief Administration. During the ‘Great Depression’ in America and thus she became the official reporter for the ‘Great Depression’ where the government stored the contents that she captured and were the official correspondence files.


• She continued being a war journalist with a rebellious nature. She was hired for ‘Collier’s Weekly’ where she reported on Adolf Hitler who has recently become famous for his deeds.

• She covered the details and the situations of the World War 2 from countries like Singapore, Burma, Finland, England and Hong Kong.

• Martha made sure that she reached the depth of the war situation and made sure that no one caught her red handed while covering the war stories. On June 6th, 1944, she was the first woman to reach Normandy and also report from the Dachau Concentration camp after the camp availed independence from the Allied troops.

• She later was employed for the ‘Atlantic Monthly’ where she covered the Vietnam War and the troubles between the Arabs and the citizens of Israel during the 60s and the 70s.

• She was soon realizing that her body was giving up due to age as she had almost reached her 70th year and thus couldn’t manage to run about to places and countries in order to cover stories of political conflict.

Major Works

• Apart from being a fierce journalist, Martha Gellhorn was a novelist as well as a travel writer. She put down her experiences and the real emotions of the lives of the grief stricken people in words and publish acclaimed books named ‘A stricken Field’ in the year 1940, ‘The face of War” in the year 1959, ‘The Lowest Trees have Tops’ in the year 1967, ‘Travels with Myself and Another’ in the year 1978 and finally ‘The view from the Ground’ in the year 1988.

Awards & Achievements

• Being a globally famous war journalist during the time when women weren’t given much importance brought about a change in the lives of several women. Martha Gellhorn became an inspiration for women and years later in 2007, the United States Postal Service announced a stamp in honor of the best journalists of the 20th century. There was an award announced on her name where journalists from around the world were commemorated with an award each year for writing outstanding journalism content in English either for newspapers or the Internet.

Personal Life & Legacy

• Martha Gellhorn had several love affairs but had found true love when she met Ernest Hemingway. She married him in the year 1940 but parted ways in the year 1945 with a divorce.

• She disliked being compared to his writings and wanted to be an independent novelist with a unique way of putting down her thoughts.

• She had a second marriage to the former managing editor of the Time Magazine named T.S. Matthews in the year 1954. She had planned a sorted life with him by shifting to London but later divorced him after around 11 years.

• She had adopted a baby boy in the year 1949 but soon had sour relationships with him as she had other priorities.

• Towards the end of her life, Martha was almost blind, suffered from ovarian cancer and was reported to commit suicide and end her life by swallowing Cyanide.


• Martha Gellhorn was considered to be a woman who was sexually manipulative and didn’t involve in physical relationships with her partners with her personal consent. She was also described as ‘conscientious’.