The Second World War has remained one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Massive killings, casualties, and destruction of both lives and properties were recorded as nations strived to outwit each other. To keep everyone informed about the raging atrocities, a number of journalists explored the battlefront in search of stories and Clare Hollingworth was one out of the bunch. Beyond being the first to announce the outbreak of World War II to the world, she left a remarkable legacy in journalism. Want to learn more about her? Tag along.
Who Was Clare Hollingworth?
Clare Hollingworth was an English journalist and a writer. She was one of the leading female war correspondents for most of the British and American publications in the 1900s. The British journalist was born on October 10, 1911, in Knighton, Leicester, England. She lived for 105 years. Yeah, death only came for her on the 10th of January 2017.
In her lifetime, Clare Hollingworth was renowned for her dauntless resolve in the face of war as she eagerly reported details of the conflicts and invasions of territories. She would even place her life on the line just to give a firsthand account of the war. Below are some intriguing facts about this legendary journalist.
Facts You Need to Know about Her
1. She Was Rebellious
Clare Hollingworth was as stubborn as she was dauntless. She was born into a middle-class family in Knighton and raised on a farm owned by the Hollingworth family. Her father, Albert Hollingworth also owned a shoe factory. The old man had a certain love for history, he would often take Clare on fun trips to historic battlefields like Naseby, Crecy, Poitiers, Bosworth, and Agincourt in Britain and France much to the disdain of his wife.
Daisy Hollingworth didn’t want her daughter to be entangled in those tales of bloodshed. She was livid when Clare decided to become a writer and reporter. She made her displeasure known and insisted that Clare must choose a more noble course to explore. Clare initially tried being obedient by enrolling in a domestic science college in Leicester. She detested the school and became restless. Eventually, she called her mum’s bluff, followed her heart, and made a living from her fascination with warfare.
2. Clare Was a Badass Reporter
Lady Hollingworth was barely a week old in journalism when she began making waves for herself. She was the first to report on the invasion of Poland by the German troops which heralded the upsurge of the Second World War. Clare Hollingworth also covered the abdication of King Carol in Bucharest and even the war in Algeria. She stood out among her colleagues not just because of her passion and resilience in the job – her methods were unconventional and insane. She did not believe in using her femininity to ease her way through, she would rather take the dangerous path to get her stories.
Clare is that reporter who could sneak into Germany across a closed border disguised with the consul general’s car. She even received a salute from the Germans as she drove-by. The journalist once resisted arrest from the German police by stripping naked. In 1965, when India banned foreigners from covering the war with Pakistan, Clare persuaded Indira Gandhi, the information minister to make an exception for her. She found her way in and even smuggled two of her colleagues into Indian under the pretense that they were her servants. At some point, she joined the US military operations based in Algiers just to cover stories for the Chicago Daily News.
Clare received several threats from the Organisation Armée Secréte (OAS) terrorists. She escaped from some of their gunmen by threatening to use her shoe. Clare knew she was stepping on too many toes and was always ready for the worse. This explains why she also slept with a revolver underneath her pillow.
Hollingworth’s amazing accomplishments as a journalist never went unnoticed. In 1962, she won the Woman Journalist of the Year award for her report on the civil war in Algeria. Many years later (in 1982), Clare Hollingworth was made an officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for her exceptional services to journalism. She bagged the James Cameron Award for Journalism in 1994 and yet received a lifetime achievement award in 1999.
3. She Was Unlucky With Love
Love was one thing she could not wrap her head around, it just never worked out for her. We’d like to think that away from all the journalistic superwoman stunts, that Clare Hollingworth wanted something more in life. Perhaps some peace and quiet away from all those bombs and gunshots; someone to call her own, a lover she could return to when it’s all over.
Alas! That was not meant to be. Clare was first engaged to a family friend’s son. Well, that marriage never happened as she got a secretary job in the League of Nations Union (LNU) and quickly left to pursue her dream. There was certainly no turning back for her. In 1936, she fell in love with Vandeleur Robinson, LNU’s regional organizer in south-east England and they were soon married. Unfortunately, the union couldn’t survive the storms and chaos that came along the way. Clare disliked the thoughts of a round belly and diapers. She wouldn’t have children as she preferred to focus solely on her work. She later found that Vandeleur was having an affair and threatened to kill his mistress but this didn’t stop his philandering. She was soon frustrated by his serial cheating and their marriage went from bad to ruins, the couple went their separate ways after a divorce in 1951.
Clare tried giving up on love but found herself in the love web again. This time it was with Geoffrey Hoare, a journalist with the News Chronicles. The lovebirds tied the knot in 1952 barely a year after her divorce. Finally, a beautiful fairytale that would last her a lifetime. Sadly, she was wrong about this too. Geoffrey died in 1965, leaving her with a stepchild to tend.
4. Clare Hollingworth Has Weird Habits
Due to the nature of her job, Clare picked up many strange habits most of which she never got rid of. Her nephew Patrick Garrett published a biography of the veteran journalist in 2015, he revealed that Clare liked to drink beer for breakfast, a habit she gave up in her latter days.
She didn’t like to keep family photos or children’s drawings. Clare was crazy about work and would often sleep with her shoes by her side, passport in hand, and visa up to date just in case she had to leave at midnight to cover a story. She wasn’t keen about fashion but would often have two suitcases packed, one for hot climates and the other for winter. She could go on for days without eating or taking a shower. All she needed to keep body and mind together was a typewriter and a toothbrush. The “T&T” as she would call it.
5. She Was No Fan of Writing
Clare Hollingworth’s entire life had been all about her work. Journalism and reporting were all that really mattered to her. However, she didn’t fancy scribbling on paper as much as she fancied narrating and reporting war stories. She would rather paint pictures of her war experiences with spoken words rather than write them.
Clare was unadventurous with the pen and would often run short of words to write. Although she was the author of five books, we can’t say that was without a struggle. Her husband, Geoffrey Hoare was burdened with the responsibility of proof-reading and editing her crude articles and documentaries. He would spend all day correcting spellings and grammatical errors, enhancing the article and exhuming the lead story as Clare tend to bury five paragraphs down in one, leaving out the details.