Review: Martha Gellhorn by Caroline Moorehead | Books | The Guardian
Martha Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway when she was 28 and he was The couple had just come from Spain, where they had lived side by side as .. her goal, which might have been the most terrifying scenario of all. Hermione Lee on Caroline Moorehead's account of Martha Gellhorn, a brave out of personal relationships - Andrew Motion's Larkin, Selina Hastings's Rosamond Lehmann. on how much better a reporter Gellhorn was here than Hemingway (though . We hope to pass our goal by early January Gellhorn's troubled marriage to Ernest Hemingway meant that for much of her life she had to overcome being regarded as what she once called a "footnote" in.
But she was restless, thinking of Europe and the coming war. Leaving Hemingway to work on his novel, she agreed to write a piece for Collier's about Finland, which Russia was threatening to invade. They wrote to each other nearly every day and their nicknames had never been more fanciful: Rabby, Bongie, the Pig, Bug. Hemingway told her that he was "stinko lonely". On her return, she drafted a comic, poignant note.
Bongie, Hemingstein, hereby guaranty… that I will not leave my present and future husband not for nothing, no matter what or anything… only he has to be a good boy and not love nobody but me. But he will not love nobody but me.
Reviving Gellhorn and Hemingway, mostly - The Boston Globe
This is an unnecessary guaranty. Hemingway had been pressing Pauline for a divorce. It came through in November and he and Gellhorn decided to get married. A reporter covering the wedding, which took place in Wyoming, in the dining room of the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne, called it a "pairing of flint and steel". Martha was 32, Hemingway After the brief ceremony they ate moose for dinner.
They were driving through Arizona, on their way back to Cuba, when they heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Would things have turned out differently had Gellhorn been able to settle?
Hemingway wanted nothing more than to stay in the Finca Vigia, writing, drinking with his cronies and arming his boat, the Pilar, with bazookas and grenades, ostensibly to hunt down Nazi submarines. But Gellhorn yearned always to be where the action was. She left for a tour of the Caribbean, for Collier's, then got herself to London and wrote about Bomber Command and the Polish forces, waiting for the invasion.
While apart, she and Hemingway exchanged tender, nostalgic letters. Together, though, they were now often at war. In so much as ends have beginnings, theirs came in the summer of Hemingway was drinking heavily and she found his lack of cleanliness, his boundless egotism and his crassness increasingly offensive; he accused her of being a prude and a prima donna.
There was little laughter and few jokes. One night, when he was drunk, she took over the wheel of his much loved Lincoln Continental. He slapped her; she drove it slowly and deliberately into a tree. They fought over money, over work, over his drunken cronies.
He bullied, mocked and snarled at her. Then the day came when he told her that he had accepted a commission to cover the Allied invasion for Collier's — effectively demoting her, since no paper could have more than one reporter at the front. There was little more to be said.
Hemingway left for London on a priority flight; Gellhorn crossed the Atlantic on a Norwegian freighter carrying dynamite. In the event, she wrote better and more interesting stories than he did about the liberation of Europe, travelling on her own, entering Belsen not long after the Allied forces.
But the marriage was over. She was a writer in her own right, a woman who had covered the heaviest of wars, and she wished to be remembered for that.
Yet all people recalled was the marriage. Beautiful Exile makes it apparent why Gellhorn was so reticent to talk about the man who would eventually shoot himself.
For the first time, her friends have learned that, jealously, he tried to destroy her reputation, dehumanising her as an "operative" during their years working together and trying to turn her into his property. The book contains extracts from ferocious letters Hemingway wrote to Gellhorn after she walked off to war and out of their marriage. He called her a "career bulldozer", a "product of beauticians" and a "phoney and pretentious bitch".
Rosie Boycott was friends with Gellhorn from the early 70s when Boycott founded Spare Rib and Gellhorn told her the women's movement was "bunk". Boycott helped her find a lawyer to oppose publication of Rollyson's original biography and recalls "quite a nasty fight.
I imagine he was monumentally pissed off. The stuff about how mean and vitriolic Hemingway was is astounding. I was taken aback by how he set out to destroy her. The only thing I came away with from that book was another level of understanding of why she was so insistent in not wanting to be portrayed as Mrs Ernest Hemingway.
In spite of her friends' pleadings, just before her death she burnt the letters from Hemingway. Following publication of the original biography, Gellhorn wrote 25 pages of notes on Rollyson's errors. Bill Buford, the New Yorker editor who was a friend of Gellhorn's, explains: She concluded that the man was interested only in salacious gossip. Martha asked many people to do what they could to stop the book.
In those later years she told stories to her "chaps" - those who came to read to her when she was near-blind following a botched cataract operation - which were hazily recollected through the mist of Famous Grouse.
She knew that this way they would be half-remembered and they were rarely written down.
Reviving Gellhorn and Hemingway, mostly
The journalist James Fox, who bonded with Gellhorn when they were writing about the miners' strike, is outraged by the notion that Gellhorn slept with people to get a good story and by the book's claims that she did not actually enjoy sex. Hemingway was allowed to have affairs and that's fabulous and macho. She's portrayed as a scarlet woman. It's as if the author said: Four years later, inshe returned to the US and wrote about the depression from the ground, living with the poorest families and railing to President Roosevelt.
Her acclaimed book, The Trouble I've Seen, is an account of this time. She met Hemingway in when she was on holiday with her family in Key West. It was when the two hooked up in Spain while covering the civil war that they began their affair.