Agnes Smedley

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Agnes Smedley (right) and General Zhu De (left). [File photo]

Agnes Smedley (February 23, 1892 - 6 May 1950) was an American journalist and writer best known for her semi-autobiographical novel Daughter of Earth. She was also known for her sympathetic chronicling of the Chinese revolution.

During World War I, she worked in the United States for the independence of India from Great Britain, receiving financial support from the government of Germany, and for many years worked for or with the Comintern, promoting world revolution. She worked on behalf of various causes including women's rights, birth control, and children's welfare.

Smedley wrote six books, including a novel, reportage, and a biography of the Chinese general Zhu De, reported for newspapers such as New York Call, Frankfurter Zeitung and Manchester Guardian, and wrote for periodicals such as the Modern Review, New Masses, Asia, New Republic, and Nation.

Smedley moved to Shanghai in 1929. There she  served as a correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Manchester Guardian. She covered many topics, including the Chinese Civil War. She was also in Xi'an during the Xi'an Incident, which took her by surprise but led to her making broadcasts in English for the rebels. She then reported the Anti-Japanese war during the Second United Front. She travelled with first the 8th Route Army and then the New Fourth Army, as well as visiting some of the non-Communist Chinese army.

Smedley left the field in 1937; she organized medical supplies and continued writing. Between 1938 to 1941, she visited both Communist and Guomindang forces in the war zone; it is recorded that this is the longest tour of the Chinese war front conducted by any foreign correspondent, male or female.


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