The captivating biography of the trailblazing New Yorker journalist and feminist who traveled the world reporting on the tumultuous cultural and political currents of the twentieth century
Emily Hahn first challenged traditional gender roles in 1922 when she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin’s all-male College of Engineering, wearing trousers, smoking cigars, and adopting the nickname “Mickey.” Her love of writing led her to Manhattan, where she sold her first story to the New Yorker in 1929, launching a sixty-eight-year association with the magazine and a lifelong friendship with legendary editor Harold Ross. Imbued with an intense curiosity and zest for life, Hahn traveled to the Belgian Congo during the Great Depression, working for the Red Cross; set sail for Shanghai, becoming a Chinese poet’s concubine; had an illegitimate child with the head of the British Secret Service in Hong Kong, where she carried out underground relief work during World War II; and explored newly independent India in the 1950s. Back in the United States, Hahn built her literary career while also becoming a pioneer environmentalist and wildlife conservator.
With a rich understanding of social history and a keen eye for colorful details and amusing anecdotes, author Ken Cuthbertson brings to life a brilliant, unconventional woman who traveled fearlessly because “nobody said not to go.” Hahn wrote hundreds of acclaimed articles and short stories as well as fifty books in many genres, and counted among her friends Rebecca West, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, James Thurber, Jomo Kenyatta, and Madame and General Chiang Kai-shek.
“Social history at its best . . . brings to life the inspired individualism of one of this century’s least recognized and most interesting journalists.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A rip-roaring bio . . . Throughout, Cuthbertson maintains a brisk pace, exploring both the passion and dissatisfaction that fueled Hahn’s wanderlust.” —Entertainment Weekly
“The writing, lively, is suitable to its vivacious subject. . . . [Hahn] was a singular woman, the last of her 52 books anticipating the work of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.” —The Washington Times
“Cuthbertson does [Hahn’s] adventures justice. . . . Her life makes for heady cinematic stuff.” —Publishers Weekly
“The events that Hahn witnessed were world-changing, and her blazing candor about war, race, sex, and feminism was courageous; but she was too hot to handle. . . . Thanks to Cuthbertson, Hahn has an encore in front of an audience hungry for just her kind of story.” —Booklist
Ken Cuthbertson is a journalist and historian. In addition to writing Nobody Said Not to Go: The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Emily Hahn (1998), he edited the 2011 edition of Hahn’s travel book, Congo Solo: Misadventures Two Degrees North, in which he restored text deleted or altered by censors when the book was first published in 1933. Cuthbertson is also the author of A Complex Fate: William L. Shirer and the American Century; Inside: The Biography of John Gunther, which was nominated for the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction; and the historical novel The Memoirs of the Hon. Henry E. MacFutter: Ring of Truth. He lives in Ontario.