Gellhorn & Grandma

“…asked if sitting in my room writing all the time didn’t feel like prison. I said you bet, what a writer needs.” -Martha Gellhorn, writing to Peggy Schutze, preacher’s wife, mother of 4, and creator of the most awesome picture books ever custom-made for me in my whole life.

A few years ago I found myself procrastinating novel-writing and preparing for my first baby to be born (!!) by obsessing over Martha Gellhorn, the feisty novelist and journalist who was once married to Ernest Hemingway and, more importantly, had a correspondence with my grandmother. The result of this obsession was an essay that I sent around to a resounding “huh.” But now TV’s getting involved, and Nicole Kidman, who is for some reason always playing my literary heroines, portrays Gellhorn in Hemingway & Gellhorn. (Between this and Girls, I’m convinced there is a world-wide conspiracy to make me feel bad about not having HBO.) And now I’m so happy that the essay, “A Goofy State of Mind: My Grandmother’s Letters With Martha Gellhorn,”  is up at The Millions, and that Gellhorn is finally — as a prescient coworker of mine suggested years ago — having her moment. Not to mention my grandmother, a true writer and an imaginative, excitable, dreamy, bicycle-riding, fabulous-hat-collecting, typewriter-clacking space-case eccentric waaaaaay before Zooey Deschanel made it a brand.

So anyway, for a peek into the letters between a globe-trotting war correspondent and the “mouse in her own mind”, and for evidence that I once actually wrote things that were carefully thought-out or at least expansively researched, please visit The Millions.

9 responses to “Gellhorn & Grandma

  1. Amy, I read your piece for the Millions the other day and LOVED LOVED it. What a way to mine your family history– with a history like that!

  2. Wow, Amy, what a great STORY!! I love it. Your grandmother sounds truly amazing, and I love learning more about your literary evolution! Totally fascinating, great stuff!

  3. Thanks, you guys! My grandmother’s writing is so great, and I have (dormantly) been trying to figure out a way to share more of it. She has this short story called The Little Bastard I keep meaning to transcribe and share somehow — it’s just really so good!
    And hey, thanks for reading this little blog. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. :)

  4. Finally!

    The Millions is a great place for your essay and I am so happy it ended up there. Thanks for sharing your grandma with us.

  5. Your piece in The Millions was brilliant. I wrote a decidedly less highbrow review of the Hemingway and Gellhorn movie on LitStack (http://litstack.com). Aside from that, yes, I think you need HBO. Girls is something you just can’t miss. .

    • Thanks! I just read your review actually — totally agree. And thanks for the kind words. And I know. But I already have a Mad Men thing going on, so I feel like I can’t really add another show, can I? Can you follow more than one at once? I’m not very good at tv.

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