21st of July: Ernest and Martha

On July 21st, Hemingway would have turned 122 years, and of course, this date is often used as an excellent occasion to remind people of the genius he was.

Yet, Lit4School likes to take the opportunity to remember Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife and one of the most adventurous women. She was the only woman who experienced the D-Day on the spot and attended the liberation of Dachau. She founded and renovated her and Hemingway’s home in Cuba, the Watchtower Farm, after their stay in Spain as war correspondents during the Civil War. Her braveness and continuous outstanding journalistic work are honoured in the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. It is awarded annually for journalists writing in the style of Martha Gellhorn, which she understood herself as a “view from the ground”: Capturing human stories that, on the one hand, shake up official news reported in magazines and newspapers, and on the other hand, reveal humanity in places and times on which the world refuses to look closer at.

Her relationship with Hemingway started in Spain as clandestine love in the 1930s: Only a mile away from one of the fronts in the Spanish Civil War and always in danger of getting hit by shell attacks. Also, Hemingway was still married to his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and they had two sons. Hemingway and Gellhorn had lived in an on-and-off relationship until they married in 1940. But their marriage was overshadowed by Hemingway’s seek for domestication, which he soon became bored of, and Gellhorn’s wish to continue reporting of struggles all over the world. Finally, in 1945, after unsteady years of marriage, she said that she has enough and divorced. Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman. Especially in the case of Ernest and Martha, it is exciting leaving the well-known paths of Hemingway and investigate the life and achievements of the woman who influenced his life and works.