Virginia Cowles: A trailblazing female war reporter


Looking for Trouble

The classic memoir of a trailblazing war correspondent

By Virginia Cowles

Published by Faber; Dist. by Allen & Unwin
RRP $34.99 in hard cover | ISBN 9780571367542

First published in 1941, it seems entirely appropriate that this new edition of Looking for Trouble, the memoir of legendary foreign correspondent Virginia Cowles, is introduced by Christina Lamb, Chief Foreign Correspondent for The Sunday Times, a newspaper for which Cowles also reported from the frontline of wartime Europe.

Cowles, with no journalism training, stumbled into a career as a frontline reporter.

She begins the memoir with an evocative description of what it meant to live in wartime ‘… a full moon shining down on London and overhead you can hear the drone of German bombers.’

She goes on to describe her life as a trailblazing female war reporter, an eyewitness to major events of the twentieth-century.

From Madrid in the Spanish Civil War to Berlin the day Germany invaded Poland to Paris as it fell to the Germans and finally to London on the first day of the Blitz, Cowles saw it all. And reported on it with great flair and insight.

How her words resonate today: ‘War meant soaring prices, lack of food, and houses with bomb-holes in them.’

She saw and understood the domestic upheaval in the lives of ordinary citizens as war raged around them.

We take for granted today the opportunity for women to report alongside men from theatres of war.

What is interesting is the contemporary account she offers of events and personalities now almost outside living memory.

Intrepid, resourceful and determined, she blazed a trail that others would follow.

Sadly, she died, aged 73, in a car accident in France in 1983.

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