"And, as you know, I love you all the time."
- Martha Gellhorn to Eleanor Roosevelt, 1951.
By becoming one of the first female war reporters, Martha Gellhorn changed war reporting and women's history forever. She was also one of Eleanor Roosevelt's good friends. In the gallery below, here are just a few snippets from correspondence between Mrs. Gellhorn and Mrs. Roosevelt from the early 1950s.
Select Correspondence From Martha Gellhorn to Eleanor Roosevelt
Columns Mentioning "Martha Gellhorn"
"It [Martha Gellhorn's book The Trouble I Seen] is well written, almost too well written, if you want to preserve a sense of satisfaction with things as they are."
"In a moment of enthusiasm my secretary told the publishers of Martha Gellhorn's book, "The Trouble I've Seen" that when I read the first story aloud at home my listeners wept! He jumped to the conclusion that this was a tribute to my reading whereas it was a tribute to a very remarkable piece of writing."
"She [Gellhorn] seems to have come back with one deep conviction, "the Spanish people are a glorious people, something is happening in Spain which may mean much to the rest of the world."
"Martha Gellhorn is always to me an exciting person with whom to talk."
"It is important to us, every one of us, to understand what happens to the individual forced to live under such circumstances and to those other individuals, who through force and fear, rule people in such a manner. If we lack this knowledge, we cannot understand what is happening in Europe today. I strongly recommend the reading of "Stricken Field," not for pleasure, though it is very well written, but because you will know vividly the fear of the little people all over the world."
"I was interested to find in the two women with whom I was talking, a greater understanding of the attitude of our young people than one usually discovers in the older generation. Our great writers and those of us of lesser degree, have told youth how horrible and futile war is. Honest people, whether they are artists or just ordinary individuals, must tell the truth as they see it, and there are few of us today who believe that war is an instrument for good. We know that it calls out in human beings fine qualities, but so does any event requiring great self-sacrifice."
"The gift of the fiction writer is to paint in words that "heart of another," so that, for the first time, you actually live somebody else's life. You know their thoughts and feelings, and follow their reasoning, a thing often missed in real life."
"The pleasure of seeing a friend whom you love after a long separation is particularly satisfactory now, when all of life seems precarious and the urgency for moments of happiness greater than ever."
"One of her [Gellhorn in her book The Face of War] statements I think none of us today should ever forget. 'From the earliest wars of men to our last heart-breaking worldwide effort,' she writes, 'all we could do was kill ourselves. Now we are able to kill the future.'"
Special thanks to...
The image of Martha Gellhorn and the letter from President Roosevelt were found here on the No Job For a Woman website. The photo of Martha Gellhorn is courtesy the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA.
Thanks to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the National Archives for providing all of the other documents available on this page.
Thanks to the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project for publishing the "My Day" columns online here.