By Sean Tuohy
This week’s badass writer is a first for Writer’s Bone: a journalist! Marie Colvin (January 1956—February 2012) was just like Superman’s Lois Lane, but more like a 1980’s action hero version.
Colvin was born in Queens, N.Y. but was raised in Long Island. It was a quiet start for a woman who would grow up to laugh in the face of danger (we aren't kidding, she actually once laughed while being shot at!). After high school, Colvin went to Brazil for a year and upon her return to the United States she drove to Yale (you may have heard of it) and demanded, “you have to let me in.” So…they laughed in her face and turned her away. Oh wait, no they didn’t. They let her in, and she started there in 1978. The woman never formally applied to the school.
Colvin began working as a reporter in New York City for the Sunday New York Times the moment she was finished with school. In 1986, two years after leaving Yale, she interviewed then Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, days after American bombings. The city was ablaze while Colvin interviewed one of the most powerful (and as it turned out craziest) leaders in the world. From that point on, Colvin decided that offices were death traps and traveled the world going to different war zones (makes total sense to us!). Yes, she actively searched for battles to go to. The places she reported from sound like the greatest hits of modern warfare: Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and East Timor.
In 1999, Colvin saved 1,500 women and children in Timor by refusing to leave them behind at a besieged camp. For four days she stayed with U.N. Forces and helped them while also hitting daily print deadlines. In 2000, she won the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism award for her work in Kosovo. She was shot at, chased out of countries by government officials, and witnessed some of the most awful violence in history. She suffered from PTSD as a result.
Despite everything, Colvin continued her travels. While in Sri Lanka, she was injured in an RPG attack that took one of her eyes, caused her to lose some of her hearing, and lodged a piece of metal in her brain. She was 44 years old at the time, and, despite the life threatening injuries, she still made deadline. From that point on Colvin wore a black eye patch, forever sealing her badass look. In 2012, Colvin smuggled herself into war-torn Syrian and linked up with rebel forces to provide up-to-date reporting. Sadly, Colvin was killed by an improvised explosive device filled with nails while reporting from Homs.
Colvin was part heroine, part storyteller, and an-all around tough chick. Her work was brave and game changing, and we couldn’t be more proud of honoring her memory as a badass writer.