Going with the Boys: Six Extraordinary Women Writing from the Front Line by Judith Mackrell; Invisible Walls: A Journalist in Search of Her Life by Hella Pick - review by Frances Cairncross

Frances Cairncross

They Fought to Report

Going with the Boys: Six Extraordinary Women Writing from the Front Line

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Picador 448pp £20 order from our bookshop

Invisible Walls: A Journalist in Search of Her Life

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson 320pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

In February last year, Victoria Newton assumed the editorship of The Sun, still the UK’s most widely purchased daily. More or less simultaneously, Emma Tucker took the reins at the Sunday Times. At much the same time, Alison Phillips, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mirror, added the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People to her responsibilities. Not long before, Roula Khalaf had become the first woman to edit the Financial Times. Katharine Viner has been editing The Guardian since 2015.

With women now sitting in so many national editorial chairs, it might seem hard to justify giving space to two books about women in journalism. Yet the female journalists who feature here were pioneers in the field. The women in Judith Mackrell’s book reported on the disintegration of Europe, whereas Hella Pick spent a good part of her life at The Guardian charting efforts to build European unity. An underlying theme of both is that female journalists have – or had – advantages and disadvantages not shared by their male colleagues.

Mackrell recounts the experiences of six women – five journalists and one photographer – who covered the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. Some are well known, such as Martha Gellhorn, who married Ernest Hemingway in 1940, and Clare Hollingworth. Also in her book are Virginia Cowles, who

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