Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Consists of an open collection, assembled from multiple sources, of letters and memorabilia of American war correspondent, journalist, and novelist Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998). In addition to authoring numerous works of fiction, many of which were drawn from her reporting, Martha Gellhorn was one of the first female war correspondents during World War II. She accepted her first war assignment in 1937, covering the Spanish Civil War for Collier's Weekly, during which time she began an affair with the American novelist Ernest Hemingway, whom she had met on vacation in Key West, Florida, the previous Christmas. Gellhorn next worked as a foreign correspondent in Czechoslovakia and Finland during the late 1930s and traveled as a journalist along the Burma Road and to China in 1940 and 1941 with Hemingway; they married in 1940. Punctuated by her frequent travels abroad, Gellhorn and Hemingway lived together between their villa, Finca Vigía, in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, and Sun Valley, Idaho, as Gellhorn continued to work for Collier's as a war correspondent in England, Italy, France, and Germany from 1943 to 1945, reporting on the beach at D-Day, at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, and at the Nuremberg trials. After a tumultuous marriage plagued by Hemingway's resentment of Gellhorn's successful career as a journalist and frequent travels, the couple divorced in 1945. In 1949, Gellhorn adopted a son, George Alexander ("Sandy") Gellhorn, from an orphanage in Italy. She went on to cover the Vietnam War and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1960s and 1970s and civil unrest in Latin America in the 1980s. She also continued to publish fiction and nonfiction works regularly, spending prolonged stretches of time living and writing in Kenya.
The collection contains fourteen letters from Gellhorn to George Brown, written primarily from Finca Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, and Sun Valley, Idaho, during the time Gellhorn was married to Ernest Hemingway in the 1940s. Brown was Gellhorn and Hemingway's personal trainer, tennis partner, and friend, and the letters focus largely on Gellhorn and Hemingway's physical condition, diet, and domestic life. There are also approximately fifty letters from Martha Gellhorn to her adopted son, George "Sandy" Gellhorn, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, written from Kenya, England, Germany, and the United States. Gellhorn's letters to her son are intimate and include her thoughts and reflections on current events, her travels as a war correspondent and journalist, writing projects, family matters, and her complex relationship with her son. A long sequence of letters written from Kenya in 1969 contains a thorough accounting of Gellhorn's experience in Africa, as well as commentary on Hemingway's prose and troubled relationship with his parents. Other materials include a sketch portrait of Martha Gellhorn by Bernard Perlin, circa 1953, and a group of dog tags, pins, and badges from Gellhorn's career as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and afterward.
Arranged in order of accession.
Purchases, 2016 (AM 2016-108, AM 2017-76).
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This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in September 2016. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in September 2016. Finding aid updated by Kelly Bolding in January 2017.
No materials were separated during 2016-2017 processing.
- Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Married people -- Health and hygiene -- United States -- Correspondence
- Mothers and sons -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Physical education and training -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- United States -- Correspondence
- Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Women war correspondents -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelly Bolding
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Open for research.
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Consists of thirteen typed letters and one autograph letter from Martha Gellhorn to George Brown, Gellhorn and Hemingway's personal trainer, tennis partner, and close friend. The letters are addressed to George Brown (often referred to as "Flash") at his residence in New York City and are written primarily from Finca Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, and Sun Valley, Idaho, with a single 1943 letter on White House stationery addressed from Washington, D.C., and one 1946 letter addressed from South Easton Place in London following Gellhorn and Hemingway's divorce. Gellhorn's letters, which she often signed "Marty," are playful and informal in nature and offer a glimpse into Gellhorn and Hemingway's marriage. Their primary topic is Gellhorn's concern over her and her husband's physical condition and weight, soliciting exercises and weight loss advice from Brown and making jokes about the couple's physical condition and eating and drinking habits. Letters also often refer to errands Brown ran for Gellhorn and Hemingway in New York during the couple's time in the American West and abroad. Gellhorn occasionally mentions her travel plans as a war correspondent for Collier's, and in one letter, suggests Brown attend her 1946 play Love Goes to Press at the Biltmore Theatre in New York. Her letters regarding her domestic life with Hemingway refer to travel plans, tennis, hunting and fishing in Idaho, Hemingway's cats and pigeons at Finca Vigía, and rumors in the press about Hemingway having an affair, which Gellhorn dismisses. She also refers fondly to Hemingway's sons as "Bumby," "Mousie," and "Giggy" and comments on their activities.Physical Description
Consists primarily of letters from Martha Gellhorn to her adopted son George "Sandy" Gellhorn in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There are approximately fifty letters totaling about 160 pages; they are primarily typed, though some are handwritten on hotel stationary. Written from St. Louis, Missouri; Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; and Naivasha and Mombasa, Kenya, Gellhorn's letters are intimate, detailed, and often lengthy. Among their topics are Gellhorn's memories of visiting concentration camps, progress and roadblocks in her writing, her relationship with ex-husband Ernest Hemingway and other relatives, as well as her impressions of current events, including the Vietnam War and related protest movements, the 1968 presidential election, and the Apollo 11 moon landing. Gellhorn also frequently expresses concern over Sandy's lifestyle and offers advice and warnings about love, finding an occupation, and drug culture. A thirty-seven-page sequence of letters written over a month-long period in autumn of 1969, which Gellhorn wrote as a journal of her time in Kenya, contains a thorough narration of her life in Naivasha, as well as reflections on her ex-husband Ernest Hemingway.Physical Description
Includes thirty-seven pages of continuous narrative spanning several letters over the course of a month.Physical Description
One June 17th, 1970, letter is written to a "Sydney" about Sandy.Physical Description
1 folderPencil on paper
Consists of a set of dog tags, fifteen pins, and a cloth badge from Gellhorn's career as a war correspondent, primarily from the Spanish Civil War and World War II, including dog tags from her time as a war correspondent for Collier's Magazine during World War II, which are embossed "Martha G. Hemingway / War Correspondent / Colliers Magazine;" her United States War Correspondent's badge; a "¡No pasarán!" pin from the Spanish Civil War; a United States Armed Forces Parachutist Badge with four stars affixed to it; along with other pins and military pips from Great Britain, the Middle East, and Russia.Physical Description