‘Requiem’ by Martha Gellhorn

When I was researching my book about Martha Gellhorn in her restricted personal papers in Boston, I discovered many stories she never submitted for publication. ‘Requiem’ is about abortion. She wrote on the manuscript pages that she thought it was written in 1931. In December 1930, Gellhorn returned to the United States from living abroad in Paris for most of the year. She was pregnant and felt like a failure at 22. In January 1931, she had an abortion in Chicago. Just as she would write unflinchingly about what she saw and heard during the Spanish Civil War and WWII, Gellhorn turns the lens on her own experience in unforgiving detail, but manages to evade self-pity. With the permission of Gellhorn’s literary executor, I included this astonishing story at the end of my book.

Written 1931. First published in Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn’s Letters of Love & War 1930-1949, Firefly Books 2019