Beloff, Nora (1919–1997)

views updated

Beloff, Nora (1919–1997)

English author, journalist and first woman correspondent in Britain. Born in London, England, on January 24, 1919; died on February 12, 1997; third of five children of Simon and Marie (Spivak) Beloff; sister ofAnne Beloff-Chain (1921–1991) and Max Beloff; granted B.A., Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, 1940; married Clifford Makins (sports editor for the Observer), on March 7, 1977 (died 1990); children: none.

Selected writings:

The General Says No (1963); Transit of Britain (1973); Freedom under Foot: The Battle over the Closed Shop in British Journalism (1976); No Travel Like Russian Travel (1979, published as Inside the Soviet Empire: The Myth, the Reality, 1980); and Tito's Flawed Legacy.

Always curious, even as a child, about what was really going on in the world, Nora Beloff gravitated to journalism. "Obviously, the right choice," she wrote. "I had the necessary qualifications: inexhaustible stamina, insatiable curiosity and a thick skin." Beloff began her career in the British Foreign Office, joined Reuters News Agency in 1946, and wrote for The Economist in Paris. In 1948, she began as an editorial leader writer for the British Observer and lived on assignment in Washington and Moscow for the national weekly during the 1950s; by 1964, she was Britain's first female political correspondent in most of the major capital cities of the world, holding that position until 1976. She left the Observer in 1978 over a disagreement with a new editor and began to freelance, exploring the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. She was eventually arrested in Russia and expelled from Yugoslavia.

Outspoken and unpopular on Fleet Street, Beloff's authoritarian manner was often compared to that of American journalist Dorothy Thompson . One of only a handful of British female journalists during her time, Beloff claims she had an advantage, "Men behave much better to us than to each other." Later in her career, when she had established her reputation and discovered that she had more to say than would fit into newspaper format, Beloff authored several books, including one on the Soviet Union. Presented as a travelogue account of her experience and observations as a correspondent, it was praised for its feisty style and honest observations.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

More From