On 17th July 1936, an uprising began in Spanish Morocco that was to lead to nearly three years of civil war and the deaths of tens of thousands of Spaniards. It was a struggle fundamentally of Right versus Left, and Spain was to become a rehearsal for the World War to come.
From all over the world a host of men and women came to Spain, prepared to fight and die for one cause or the other. Some followed Franco's armies - Americans such as William P Carney and Hubert Knickerbocker and Brits such as Sefton Delmer and Harold Cardozo. But it was the left-wing Republican side that attracted the many famous literary names - George Orwell, Laurie Lee, W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway went there as a journalist, reporting for the North American Newspaper Alliance, alongside his wife-to-be Martha Gellhorn who was writing for the American magazine Collier's Weekly.
These five programmes tell the stories of the correspondents who risked their lives to report on the Spanish war. The resulting journalism was in some cases extraordinary: the unemotional prose of Steer reporting on the horrific destruction of Guernica; the poignant writing of Gellhorn as she observed the gruesome effects of Franco's bombardments of Madrid; the fabrications of writers pre-empting Rebel victories.
In episode one, John Simpson explores some of the great pieces of journalism that were to come out of the Spanish Civil War from Times correspondent George Steer, The Nation writer Louis Fischer and Collier's contributor and Hemingway's wife-to-be Martha Gellhorn.
Producer: Neil Rosser
A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.
John Simpson tell the stories of the correspondents who reported on the Spanish Civil war.