GELLHORN, MARTHA (8 November 1908, St. Louis, MO–16 February 1998, London).
As a journalist, war correspondent, novelist, and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn traveled the world and recounted major twentieth-century events to a rapt audience, including her friend Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom she engaged in a lively correspondence. According to Gellhorn, she first met ER at the White House in November 1934, although ER had long been acquainted with Gellhorn’s mother, Edna Gellhorn, who was active in the League of Women Voters* and the Women’s Division of the Democratic Party.* Despite an almost twenty-five-year age difference, ER and Gellhorn developed a friendship buttressed by their similar political and social views.
Gellhorn was the only daughter of an outstanding physician and his suffragist and social reformer wife, who were prominent figures in St. Louis. Dropping out of Bryn Mawr College to pursue a career as a journalist, Gellhorn showed a lifelong concern for those attempting to live decently in the face of adversity. At the time she became acquainted with ER, Gellhorn was one of a group of field investigators for Harry L. Hopkins,* head of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
Lorena Hickok,* Hopkins’ chief investigator and ER’s intimate friend, arranged the meeting with the First Lady in response to Gellhorn’s outrage over what she had seen, including inadequate New Deal* relief efforts, while investigating conditions faced by millworkers in the South and East. ER, in turn, introduced the attractive and sophisticated Gellhorn to Franklin D. Roosevelt* so that she could give the president her vivid, firsthand observations, and Gellhorn thereafter was a welcome White House guest. After Gellhorn left the job with Hopkins in the summer of 1935, her field reports became the basis of a book of short stories,