Agnes Smedley

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Agnes Smedley

Agnes Smedley ( Chinese  安格尼斯 • 史沫特莱 , Pinyin Āngénísī Shǐmòtèlái ; born February 23, 1892 in Osgood , Missouri ; † May 6, 1950 in Oxford ) was an American journalist and author who with her articles and books became known about the Chinese Revolution .


Agnes Smedley, born in Missouri, had four siblings. In 1902, her family moved to Colorado , where she began working alongside school. She later became a teacher in New Mexico .

In 1911 and 1912 she studied at the Tempe Normal School in Arizona and was the editor of the student newspaper Tempe Normal Student .

She married Ernest Brudin and the couple moved to California . In 1916 Agnes Smedley joined the Socialist Party of America . The marriage ended in divorce after six years. Agnes Smedley moved to New York where she worked on Birth Control Review .

She began a relationship with the Indian communist Virendranath Chattopadhyaya . In 1918 she was arrested for activities for the Indian independence movement against England in the service of Germany . In 1920 she went to Berlin with Chattopadhyaya . They opened a family planning clinic, and Agnes Smedley wrote about the Weimar Republic for The Nation and New Masses . After a short stay in the Soviet Union, she was disappointed with the conditions there and was also critical of the German communists. She was friends with Käthe Kollwitz .

In 1929 she finished her autobiography Daughter of Earth (German: One woman alone ) and moved to Shanghai alone . She was later accused of having been a member of the spy ring for the Soviet spy Richard Sorge during this time . She was close friends with Ruth Werner ("Sonja"), but without being aware of their intelligence work .

In the 1930s, Agenes Smedley visited the 8th and 4th Armies of the Chinese Red Army , reporting on the civil war in China for the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Manchester Guardian, as well as for the magazines Asia , The New Republic , Nation , Vogue and Life . Between 1938 and 1941 she visited both Guomindang and Communist troops .

After returning to the United States, she settled in New York and wrote several books on the Chinese revolution . She also campaigned for an end to racial discrimination in the United States.

With the start of the McCarthy era in 1947, she was accused of being a member of the Communist Party of the United States and of spying for the Soviet Union . Agnes Smedley escaped pressure and went to Great Britain in November 1949. After her death in Oxford in 1950, the FBI's investigation into the matter ended.

Her ashes were buried in the Babaoshan Cemetery of Revolutionary Heroes in Beijing . In Dresden and Chemnitz streets were named after her ( Agnes-Smedley-Straße ).


  • Cell Mates, No. 1 - No. 4. In: Call Magazine , the Sunday magazine of the socialist daily New York Call . on: February 15, 1920 [not in Signs reprint 1977]; February 22, 1920; February 29, 1920; March 14, 1920.
  • India and the Next War. Amritsar 1928.
  • Daughter of Earth. Coward-McCann, Inc., New York 1929 (the abridged new edition of this autobiographical novel was published in 1935 with an introduction by Malcolm Cowley ). New edition: The Feminist Press, New York 1973. ISBN 0-935-31268-4
    • One woman alone. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1929. New edition: Dietz, Berlin 1949. Translator: Julian Gumperz .
  • Chinese Destinies: Sketches of Present-Day China The Vanguard Press, New York 1933.
    • China is bleeding: From the dying of ancient China. Malik, London 1936.
  • China's Red Army Marches. The Vanguard Press, New York 1934. Alternative title: Red Flood over China. Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the USSR, Moscow, Leningrad 1934.
    • China Fights: On Becoming the New China. Dietz, Berlin 1949.
  • China Fights Back: An American Woman with the Eighth Route Army. The Vanguard Press, New York 1938.
    • China is bleeding: From the dying of ancient China. Dietz, Berlin 1949.
  • Stories of the Wounded. Newspaper Enterprises, Hong Kong 1941. Request for help for Orthopedic Centers of the Chinese Red Cross .
  • Battle Hymn of China. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1943.
  • The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh. Monthly Review Press, New York 1956. About Zhu De . ISBN 0-853-45206-7 . Digitized online at .
    • The great way. Berlin 1958.
  • Portraits of Chinese Women in Revolution. The Feminist Press at The City University of New York, New York 1976. ISBN 0-912-67044-4 .
  • Jan MacKinnon, Stephen Mac Kinnon (Eds .; Introduction): Agnes Smedley's 'Cell Mates.' In: Signs, Vol. 3, Winter 1977, pp. 532ff. Reprint of three Cell Mates columns (1920).


  • Saara Jäntti: Possible Subversions: The Narrative Construction of Identity in Agnes Smedley's Daughter of Earth . Publishing house Dr. Müller 2008, ISBN 3639047109 , ISBN 978-3639047103
  • Janice R MacKinnon and Stephen R MacKinnon: Agnes Smedley. The life of a radical woman with the infallible instinct to put her person at the center of the global political and social movement of her time . 1989, ISBN 3905493071 , ISBN 978-3905493078
  • Janice R. MacKinnon, Stephen R. MacKinnon: Agnes Smedley. The life and times of an American radical . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. ISBN 0-520-05966-2 / ISBN 0-520-06614-6 .
  • Ruth Price: The Lives of Agnes Smedley . Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-195-14189-X .
  • Ruth Werner: Sonjas Rapport - First complete edition, Verlag Neues Leben (Eulenspiegel Verlagsgruppe) 2006, ISBN 3-355-01721-3 (about the friendship between the two women)

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