Moorehead, Caroline 1944–
Moorehead, Caroline 1944–
PERSONAL: Born October 28, 1944, in London, England; daughter of Alan McCrae (a writer) and Lucy Moorehead; married Jeremy Swift (an economist), May 27, 1967; children: Martha, Daniel. Education: University of London, B.A. (with honors), 1965. Politics: Labour. Religion: Church of England.
ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Office—Medical Foundation London, 111 Isledon Rd., Islington, London N7 7JW, England. Agent—Anthony Sheil, 43 Doughty St., London WC1N 2LF, England.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, psychologist. Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Rome, Italy, psychologist, 1966–68; Time, Rome, Italy, reporter, 1968–69; Daily Telegraph, London, England, feature writer, 1969–70; Times Educational Supplement, London, feature editor, 1970–73; Times, London, feature writer, 1973–88; The Independent, London, feature writer, 1988–93. Producer of television series Dunant's Dream, based on her book, for the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, volunteer for legal team.
AWARDS, HONORS: Shortlisted for the Whitbread Award for biography for Martha Gellhorn, 2003.
(Editor and translator) Legends of Britain, Burke Publishing (London, England), 1968.
Helping: A Guide to Voluntary Work, Macdonald & Jane's (London, England), 1975.
(With Margaret Trudeau) Beyond Reason, Paddington Press (London, England), 1979.
Hostages to Fortune: A Study of Kidnapping in the World Today, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1980, published as Fortune's Hostages: A Study of Kidnapping in the World Today, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1980.
(Editor) The Letters of Dame Freya Stark, Michael Russell (London, England), 1983.
Sidney Bernstein: A Biography, J. Cape (London, England), 1984.
Freya Stark: A Biography, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.
Troublesome People: The Warriors of Pacifism, Adler & Adler (Bethesda, MD), 1987.
School Age Workers in Britain Today, Anti-Slavery Society for the Protection of Human Rights (London, England), 1987.
(Editor) Over the Rim of the World: Selected Letters of Freya Stark, John Murray (London, England), 1988.
Namibia: Apartheid's Forgotten Children, Oxfam (Oxford, England), 1988.
(Editor) Betrayal: Child Exploitation in Today's World, Barrie & Jenkins (London, England), 1989, published as Betrayal: A Report on Violence toward Children in Today's World, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Bertrand Russell: A Life, Sinclair-Stevenson (London, England), 1992.
The Lost Treasures of Troy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1994, published as Lost and Found: The 9,000 Treasures of Troy, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.
Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland, and the History of the Red Cross, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1999.
Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d'Orcia, John Murray (London, England), 1999, Godine (Boston, MA), 2001.
Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life, Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees, Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor) The Collected Letters of Martha Gellhorn, Holt (New York, NY), 2006, published as The Letters of Martha Gellhorn, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 2006.
Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Caroline Moorehead is the author of several acclaimed biographies, including Bertrand Russell: A Life, Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d'Orcia, and Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life. She has also written Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees, a look at the problem of human smuggling.
In 1993's Bertrand Russell, Moorehead describes one of the twentieth century's most prominent philosophers from both a professional and personal point of view; its detail and depth led a Publishers Weekly reviewer to call Moorehead's work "the most intimate portrait of Russell … to date." Born in 1882, Russell had a traumatic early childhood, losing both parents while still very young. A freethinker all his life, Russell was sent to Cambridge University, but could not fit in with its traditional ways. He ran for Parliament in 1907 as a women's suffrage candidate, "fighting for a seat he could not win in order to stick up for an unpopular cause," according to a Wilson Quarterly critic. During the patriotic fervor of World War I Russell became a pacifist, and was eventually jailed for insulting Britain's ally, the United States (Russell reportedly said the U.S. Army would stay in Europe following the war to shoot striking workers). In the following decades Russell would write some of his most notable books, including A History of Western Philosophy, which helped him win the Nobel Prize for literature.
Following World War II, the philosopher fought on behalf of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, wrote world leaders demanding nuclear disarmament, and "led a last, bitter campaign against the Vietnam War," noted the Wilson Quarterly writer. Russell died in 1970, leaving behind a legacy that included several shattered marriages and failed affairs. "Moorehead only occasionally raises an eyebrow at the discrepancy between Russell's mastery of logic and his weak grasp of realities of other people's lives," as the Wilson Quarterly contributor said. Antioch Review contributor Albert Stewart felt that Bertrand Russell focuses too much on Russell's personal life at the expense of presenting his intellectual achievements so that Moorehead's subject "sticks in the mind [as] the philanderer and inconsistent lover, not the logician and writer." The Publishers Weekly reviewer, on the other hand, found the book "especially strong" in the areas of family, marriage, and friendship with such Russell contemporaries as D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot.
In Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland, and the History of the Red Cross, Moorehead chronicles the life of Swiss philanthropist Henry Dunant, who founded what would become the International Committee of the Red Cross. The organization was based on a simple philosophy: "to assist victims of warfare without distinction or discrimination," as Hans-Peter Gasser described it in an online assessment for the International Review of the Red Cross. The book goes on to chronicle the history of the ICRC, a compassionate if sometimes controversial group (during World War II, the overly cautious ICRC leadership failed to publicly protest the Nazi extermination of Jews). To Library Journal contributor David Keymer, the book "unfolds a moral drama of the first rank encompassing world military and civil conflicts." A similar view was held by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who praised Dunant's Dream as a "fluid, character-rich history" and said that Moorehead focuses, "with a good novelist's sense of moral complexity, on the messy intersection between reality and lofty ideals."
In 2002 Moorehead produced Iris Origo, "an affectionate history of the writer and charmer" of the twentieth century, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Origo was born in 1902 into a wealthy American family that became a fixture in Florence, Italy. Defying family tradition, she married out of her class—to Antonio Origo, the illegitimate son of a cavalry officer. The couple revitalized the Tuscan valley and made possible an agricultural recovery in that area. During World War II they risked their safety by offering refuge to Allied partisans and prisoners of war. Amid a very public life as a writer and publisher, Iris Origo faced personal demons, enduring the death of one child and engaging in "several heart-wrenching extramarital affairs," as Booklist critic Margaret Flanagan put it. While the Publishers Weekly writer thought that the author "waits too long to bring the full force of Origo's literary ambitions and achievements to bear," Flanagan welcomed the biography as "magnificent … so absorbing and so full of fascinating characters and descriptive details that it reads like fiction."
Moorehead next turned her attention to another fascinating biographical subject, the American journalist and one-time wife of author Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn. Moorehead's Gellhorn, was shortlisted for the British Whitbread Award for biography in 2003, and earned critical acclaim in England and the United States. Gellhorn, born in 1908, led an adventurous life as a journalist, covering the Civil War in Spain, and also covering World War II in Europe and in China. Married to Hemingway in 1940, Gellhorn as a writer and journalist became eclipsed for a time by her more famous mate. Life after her divorce from Hemingway provided her with a son, and two more marriages, and she lived out her life in her adopted city of London, before taking her own life in 1998. Moorehead's biography of Gellhorn is based on close knowledge of the woman, for her father, the writer Alan Moorehead, was a personal friend of the American journalist. The resulting work was a "solidly documented, gracefully written biography," according to Hemingway Review contributor Rose Marie Burwell. D.J. Oesch, writing in the Antioch Review, had similar praise for Gellhorn, calling it a "revealing look" at the writer. Oesch concluded that Moorehead was able "to punch through the mythic cloud that often surrounds Gellhorn and other feminist icons and replace it with a balanced, humane interpretation of the writer's life." Moorehead added to her work on Gellhorn by editing the writer's letters. The Collected Letters of Martha Gellhorn is, according to Lorna Scott Fox, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, "a book of historic import, for it must be one of the last contemporary records worth collating of … the intensely personal mix of ordinariness and art, chatting and pondering, that goes into the production of a 'proper letter.'"
With the 2005 Human Cargo, Moorehead turns to the social issue of asylum-seekers and traffickers in human cargo. Moorehead has long written on human rights issues in England, and as a volunteer has worked with displaced persons and refugees for many years. In her book, she gathers tales of such refugees from England to Australia. The author's "hardest words come for the Australian system," according to Julia Neuberger, writing in the Spectator, for the government there houses asylum-seekers in cramped camps on an island offshore. Library Journal contributor Marcia L. Sprules found Human Cargo a "lyrical, moving narrative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, fall, 1994, review of Bertrand Russell: A Life, p. 564.
Antioch Review, spring, 1994, Albert Stewart, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 360; summer, 2004, D.J. Oesch, review of Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life, p. 579.
Atlantic Monthly, October, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 123.
Booklist, November 15, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 582; June 1, 1996, Donna Seaman, review of Lost and Found: The 9,000 Treasures of Troy, p. 1671; April 15, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland, and the History of the Red Cross, p. 1490; April 1, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d'Orcia, p. 1300.
Bookwatch, August, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 3.
Choice, April, 1994, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 1308; May, 1995, review of Troublesome People: The Warriors of Pacifism, p. 1408; October, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 384.
Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. B4.
Columbia Journalism Review, July-August, 2006, Lorna Scott Fox, "Astride the Sexes," review of The Collected Letters of Martha Gellhorn, p. 56.
Contemporary Review, February, 2001, review of Iris Origo, p. 128.
Economist, September 12, 1998, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 6.
Hemingway Review, fall, 2005, Rose Marie Burwell, review of Gellhorn, p. 132.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 1053; May 1, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 670; April 15, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 609.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, September, 1997, review of Lost and Found, p. 29.
Library Journal, September 15, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 85; August, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 90; April 1, 1999, David Keymer, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 113; April 15, 2005, Marcia L. Sprules, review of Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees, p. 106.
London Review of Books, November 19, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 8; January 21, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 6, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 4.
New Statesman & Society, October 2, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 44; December 16, 1994, review of The Lost Treasures of Troy, p. 67.
Newsweek, November 1, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 70.
New York, September 13, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 105.
New York Review of Books, December 19, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 15; June 24, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 40.
New York Times Book Review, October 21, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 7; July 14, 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 7.
Observer (London, England), October 25, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 64; November 8, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 60; June 14, 1998, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 16; August 1, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, August 30, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 81; June 3 1996, review of Lost and Found, p. 71; March 1, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 47; March 18, 2002, review of Iris Origo, p. 91.
Sewanee Review, April, 1994, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 310.
Spectator, October 3, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 29; December 17, 1994, review of The Lost Treasures of Troy, p. 72; July 11, 1998, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 30; February 12, 2005, Julia Neuberger, review of Human Cargo, p. 38; July 15, 2006, Byron Rogers, review of The Letters of Martha Gellhorn.
Times (London, England), February 16, 1984; November 9, 1985.
Times Educational Supplement, June 26, 1998, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 8.
Times Literary Supplement, April 29, 1983; February 3, 1984; October 2, 1992, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 13; December 9, 1994, review of The Lost Treasures of Troy, p. 25; July 31, 1998, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 3.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), November 28, 1993, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 6.
Washington Post Book World, January 2, 1994, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 1; July 4, 1999, review of Dunant's Dream, p. 4.
Wilson Quarterly, spring, 1994, review of Bertrand Russell, p. 86.
International Review of the Red Cross, http://icrc.org/ (June 13, 2002), Hans-Peter Gasser, review of Dunant's Dream.