Clare Hollingworth, First of the Female War Correspondents

C9a78120-6838-11e6-87bc-57ed402b26b2_486xKate Adie at Literary Review:

The wistful nephew of a former secret agent in the Second World War once told me of his utter frustration: his aunt, well into her nineties, refused to talk of her adventures. Patrick Garrett had already read his great-aunt Clare Hollingworth’s autobiography, but it was short on personal detail. He’d also spent many hours talking to her in her apartment in Hong Kong, though she added little to personalise the details of her career in journalism that were already in the public domain. Then, in his parents’ attic back in England, he discovered a ‘battered trunk, plastered with shipping labels’. In it were letters, campaign medals, documents, torn photographs of former lovers… His great-aunt’s past sprang to life.

And what a life. Wars, travel, exotic locations, encounters with spies, fact-finding and gossip with diplomats and soldiers, double agents and politicians. It was both glamorous and gritty, from the fashionable watering holes of Cairo, Paris and Bucharest to the rigours of survival in a warzone. It featured two husbands, many other charming men and, essential to a globetrotting correspondent, a phenomenal contacts book.

more here.