Anna Louise Strong was a world-famous radical American journalist with a Knox County connection. Her great nephew, Tracy B. Strong, has titled his biography of her She Was Right in Her Soul. He begins his book with the account of her death in China in 1970. Anna Louise was 84 years old and dying in a hospital in Peking. She had pulled out her intravenous tubes and had refused to eat and take medication.
She had had many important visitors, but on this day there was special excitement throughout the hospital. Premier Chou En-lai was visiting his old friend, Anna Louise, with whom he had conferred and worked for many years. He did his best to encourage her to cooperate with the doctors because, he said, "You have important things to do for us and the rest of the world." She replied that she would try. However, a few days later, on Easter Sunday, 1970, Anna Louise Strong died.
There was a time of mourning and memorial throughout China. She was buried with full honors in the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery in Peking. A close friend who had lived in the same apartment building as Anna Louise noted that the next day a near-by pomegranate tree, whose blossoms they had both admired, had died. When a replacement was planted, it never bloomed.
Anna Louise Strong was born in a two-room parsonage in Friend, Nebraska, in 1885. Her ancestors for several generations had been strongly religious people. Anna's father was a minister in the Congregational Church and had numerous assignments. Four years of Anna's early childhood (1887-1891) were spent in Mount Vernon, Ohio, where her father was serving the local Congregational Church. In 1891 the family moved to Cincinnati.
Anna Louise was an unusual child. She was serious-minded and independent. When she was about six years old she was thrilled for the opportunity to ride the train alone from Cincinnati to Mansfield to visit her grandparents. She began writing poetry at an early age. She was interested in people and their needs. Anna Louise attended elementary and high schools in Cincinnati and Oak Park, Illinois. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1905 and the University of Chicago in 1908. At age 23 she was the youngest female student, to that time, to receive a PhD degree from that institution.
It appeared from the beginning that Anna Louise would meet the problems of the world head on. At age 12, as freshman in high school, she was teaching sewing classes to the poor in the settlement houses in Chicago. In 1910 she was working for the National Child Labor Committee. After World War I she was active with labor unions in Seattle. She eventually settled into a career as a free-lance reporter. During the rest of her life she followed the call to all of the trouble spots of the world.
Anna Louise Strong was out to wave the banner for the needy and downtrodden. Where there was a revolution, there was Ms. Strong. As she experienced the situations around the world, it seemed to her that Socialism might be the answer to the world's problems. She spent many years in Russia, where, in 1930, she organized the Moscow Daily News. The world was her beat—China, Spain, Mexico, England, Ireland, Panama, and of course periodic trips back to America. Wherever she was she was lecturing and writing. She wrote articles for newspapers and magazines. She wrote pamphlets. She wrote at least 30 books, including poetry, novels, political commentary, and an autobiography.
During all this time Ms. Strong managed to make many friends and to become very popular throughout the world. But she managed also to make many enemies and to create much suspicion regarding her political loyalties. In a very real sense she became a sort of woman without a country. Finally, in 1949, Russia expelled her as an American spy. At the same time the American FBI had an extremely large file on Anna Louise Strong. She never lost her zeal for justice, but she became increasingly disaffected with political systems and people. In 1958, at age 72, she moved to China.
Anna Louise found China a place of support and comfort. Here she continued to write. Chinese publishers had plans to republish much of her writing as a Works set. Also, in 1968 she intended to expand her autobiography, I Change Worlds, by two more volumes. It was here in China that she found a degree of peace for the end of her days. She still had her friends and family in America, and kept in touch with them, and with others throughout the world. Tracy Strong, in his biography, wrote that Anna Louise "traveled around the world for half a century, [but] . . . her soul remained in America, where she could find neither shelter nor peace."
Knox County, Ohio, has had many connections with persons of diversity and controversy. Anna Louise Strong is worthy of our attention and respect.
(listed in chronological order, and with dates of first printings)
Storm Songs and Fables. Chicago: Langston Press. 1904. (poetry, stories)
The Song of the City . Oak Park: Oak Leaves Press. 1906. (poetry)
The King's Palace . Oak Park: Oak Leaves Press. 1908. (drama)
The Psychology of Prayer . Chicago: U. Chicago Press. 1909.
(essay from PhD dissertation)
Boys and Girls of the Bible . Chicago: Howard Severance Co. 1911.
Child Welfare Exhibits: Types and Preparation. Washington: GPO. 1915.
The Seattle General Strike. Seattle: Union Record. 1918.
Ragged Verse. Seattle: Union Press. 1920. (poetry)
The First Time in History: Two Years of Russia's New Life.
N.Y.: Boni & Liveright. 1924.
Children of Revolution . . . . Seattle: Pigott Printing Center. 1925.
(children's colony in Russia)
How Business Is Carried on in Soviet Russia. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Pub. 1927.
China's Millions . . . . N.Y.: Coward-McCann. 1927.
New Lives for Old in Today's Russia. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Pub. 1928.
Red Star in Samarkand. N.Y.: Coward-McCann. 1929.
The Soviets Conquer Wheat:. . . Collective Farming. N.Y.: Henry Holt. 1931.
The Road to the Grey Pamir. Boston: Little, Brown. 1931.
(journey on horseback through Asiatic Russia)
I Change Worlds . N.Y.: Henry Holt. 1935. (autobiography)
This Soviet World . N.Y.: Henry Holt. 1936.
The New Soviet Constitution: A Study in Socialist Democracy. 1937.
Spain in Arms . N.Y.: Henry Holt. 1937. (Spanish civil war)
One-fifth of Mankind . N.Y.: Modern Age Books. 1938. (China)
My Native Land . N.Y.: Viking Press. 1940. (tour of America)
The Soviets Expected It. N.Y.: Dial Press. 1941. (Russia's preparation for WWII)
A New Lithuania . N.Y.: National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. 1941.
Our Russian Front. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. 1942.
Wild River. Boston: Little, Brown. 1943. (novel: Russia in WWII)
Peoples of the USSR . N.Y.: Macmillan. 1944.
I Saw the New Poland . Boston: Little, Brown. 1946.
Dawn Over China. Bombay: Peoples Publishing House. 1948.
Tomorrow's China . N.Y.: CDFEP. 1948.
The Chinese Conquer China . Garden City: Doubleday. 1949.
(rise to power of the Chinese communists)
The Stalin Era. Altadena, CA: Today's Press. 1956.
The Rise of the People's Communes—and Six Years After .
Peking: New World Press. 1959.
When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet. Peking: New World Press. 1960.
Tibetan Interviews . Peking: New World Press. 1961.
Mao Tse-Tung (interview with). Peking: Foreign Language Press. 1961.
(the "paper tiger")
Cash and Violence in Laos and Vietnam . N.Y.: Mainstream Pub. 1962.
Letters from China / 4 sets. Peking: New World Press. 1961-1970.
Strong, Tracy B. and Keysar, Helene. Right in Her Soul/ Life of Anna Louise Strong.
N.Y.: Random House, 1983
Strong, Anna Louise. I Change Worlds. N.Y., 1935
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Bibliography compiled by B. K. Clinker, 2004