martha gellhornDifficult Woman N°15


Martha Gellhorn
(1908 – 1998)

Who: One of the first female war correspondents. Also, novelist, travel writer, stylish badass.

Signature Difficult Moves: Gellhorn covered virtually every major world war and conflict over the course of her sixty year career. Specialized in rule breaking to get a story such as stowing away on a hospital ship and posing as a stretcher bearer so she could get close to the action on D-Day

What People Said About Her: ”Reading Martha Gellhorn for the first time is a staggering experience. She is not a travel writer or a journalist or a novelist. She is all of these, and one of the most eloquent witnesses of the 20th century.”  — Bill Buford

Personals: Married twice. Once to Ernest Hemingway whom she met in a bar in Key West; then T.S. Matthews, whom she also divorced. She resented being a “footnote” in Hemingway’s life, so that’s the last we shall speak of him. Mother of one son, whom she adopted as a single mom.

Feminine Charms: One of those leggy blonds who looks chic in a flak jacket. More glamorous than Nicole Kidman, who played her in the HBO literary biopic He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken & Gellhorn.

How She Spoke Truth to Power: By writing honest, blistering war coverage that made politicians break out in hives. She tagged along with the Americans during the liberation of Dachau and wrote: “Behind the barbed wire and the electric fence the skeletons sat in the sun and searched themselves for lice. They have no age and no faces; they all look alike and like nothing you will ever see if you are lucky.”

Quote to Live by: “Writing is payment for the chance to look and learn.”

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