Student Research in Beinecke Collections
Katherine Fein, Yale College Class of 2014
Quite a Story to Tell: The Laughs and Loves of Mary Welsh
written for Professor John Gaddis, The Art of Biography, HIST215J
Mary Welsh was not yet accustomed to seeing her name in print, even though she worked as a journalist. At Time, correspondents like her collaborated in their reporting, and the magazine was printed without bylines. But on December 6, 1942, Mary’s name made a headline, when the Fargo Forum ran a piece entitled, “True Hollywood Touch to Mary Welsh’s Story.”1 Most likely, Mary had not been surprised when the Fargo Forum interviewed her for this profile, since she was already a celebrity back home in Bemidji, a small town in Minnesota about 100 miles east of Fargo, North Dakota.2 In a community of farmers, loggers, and fishermen, her European adventures had all the exotic appeal of a Hollywood drama: the short profile began cinematically, “Beauty with Brains Beats the Boys to the News Fronts; Romance Flowers in the Blackouts of London, Paris, and Cairo; Glamour Girl Travels with Invading Army.”3 It went on to describe her coverage of the Munich Agreement of 1938, her flight to England as the Nazis invaded France, and her marriage to fellow journalist Noel Monks.
Many people asked Mary to tell her story, and, never one to be shy, Mary acquiesced with a smile. Mary Welsh’s story is one of personalities and encounters, of war and fear, and of laughs and loves. Much of the Hollywood touch in Mary’s story comes from her natural glamour, wit, and spirit of adventure; the rest lies in the extraordinary circumstances she sought out for herself. Mary befriended great men, visited great places, and witnessed great events. The more people she met and places she went, the more she craved greater companions and greater surroundings. All the while, Mary wrote down what she saw, in letters, diaries, and official war correspondence. Her friends and colleagues thought her a great storyteller, mostly because while telling a story, Mary always wore her charming smile, capable of disarming even the greatest of men and hiding Mary’s private doubts.
Read the whole article: Katherine Fein, “Quite a Story to Tell: The Laughs and Loves of Mary Welsh”
Image: Ernest Hemingway and Mary Welsh Hemingway at At the Havana International Yacht Club Havana, Cuba (from Snapshots Of Mary Welsh Hemingway By Kenneth Koyen)
1 “True Hollywood Touch to Mary Welsh’s Story,” Fargo Forum, 6 December 1942. Mary Welsh Hemingway Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
2 Mary Welsh Hemingway Collection, Beltrami County Historical Society.
3 “True Hollywood Touch to Mary Welsh’s Story,” Mary Hemingway Papers, Kennedy Library.