Autobiographies by Women Journalists: An Annotated Bibliography

By Steiner, Linda | Journalism History, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

Autobiographies by Women Journalists: An Annotated Bibliography


Steiner, Linda, Journalism History


This list includes autobiographies by women who established their reporting careers before 1960. The list excludes photojournalists, women working for special interest periodicals (although the black press is included here) magazines (except news magazines) or whose careers were primarily non-journalistic (although Ferber is included for purposes of comparison).

Banks, Elizabeth. The Autobiography of a 'Newspaper Girl. " New York: Dodd, Mead, 1902.

Banks began as a society reporter, first in Milwaukee and later in Baltimore; in London, however, she met great success with some enterprising investigations that ran in serial form. Here she concentrates on her journalism career and is coy about her personal life.

Bennett, Milly. On Her Own. Journalistic Adventures from San Francisco to the Chinese Revolution, 1917-1927. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1993.

In 1939, unable to interest a publisher, Bennett stopped writing her autobiography. Tom Grunfeld found the highly introspective manuscript and annotated it. The book emphasizes her work in China, including her stint working with Rayna and Bill Proehme to produce a propaganda newspaper for the Cantonese Nationalists.

David, Frances. A Fearful Innocence. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1981.

Davis's primary interest is the socialist utopian community where she lived, but she also describes her high-minded efforts to become a foreign correspondent and her journalistic achievements during the Spanish Civil War.

Dorr, Rheta Childe. A Woman of Fifty. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1924.

Dorr worked for several papers, including the New York Evening Post and the New York Evening Mail. Her best years were writing about suffrage and feminism, socialism, and labor issues for Hampton's. She highlights potential and real conflicts between romantic life, work, and domestic responsibilities in the context of sexism.

Dunnigan, Alice Allison. A Black Woman's Experience-From Schoolhouse to White House. Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1974.

While working as a government clerk, Dunnigan wrote on a space-rate basis about Washington for the Associated Negro Press. In 1947 she became head of the ANP's Washington bureau, where she stayed for fourteen years. She was the first African-American woman to be accredited in the Capitol press corps. Dunnigan's divorce is handled in a footnote in this 673-page autobiography.

Ebener, Charlotte. No Facilities for Women. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1955.

Ebener recounts her adventures as a foreign correspondent, especially covering the Chinese Civil War; she filed stories from Manchuria, Korea, and Cambodia, as well as from Eastern Europe. She eventually retired from reporting in order to accompany her journalist husband George Weller.

Ferber, Edna. A Peculiar Treasure. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960.

In her first autobiography novelist Ferber enthusiastically recollects her years in journalism and how this work figured in her novel writing. A Kind of Magic (1963), a second autobiography, summarizes those four years in the first chapter.

Furman, Bess. Washington By-Line. New York: Knopf, 1949.

Despite her success as a Washington-based reporter for the Associated Press and the New York Times, most of Furman's book concerns Washington personalities and politics.

Harrison, Marguerite Elton (Baker). There's Always Tomorrow. The Story of a Checkered Life. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1935.

An exhaustive account of her career with the Baltimore Sun, which she joined after the death of her husband and with a son to support. Harrison wrote music and drama reviews but was better known for her writing about Manchuria, Siberia, and Moscow, where in 1921 she was imprisoned (wrongly, she says) as a spy.

Hemingway, Mary Welsh. How It Was. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.

Most of this book is about Mary Hemingway's life as wife and later widow of Ernest Hemingway, but she includes many anecdotes from her successful days as a reporter and war correspondent with the Chicago Daily News, the London Daily Express, and then Time and Life.

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