Biography (Magill Book Reviews)
Margaret Bourke-White cut a dashing figure from the start of her career in the 1920’s as she hung off girders and out of planes to get shots. Her profession took her worldwide, and her photographs of world leaders such as Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Mahatma Gandhi have become part of the historical record. LIFE magazine was launched with Bourke-White’s cover photo and lead story. An elegantly attractive and adventurous woman, she was herself the subject of numerous news stories.
Working incessantly, Bourke-White documented Southern poverty, Nazi death camps, and wartime air raids. Her early taste for dramatic architecture and machinery gave way to an emphasis on the human condition and world events, photographed always in a distinctively stylized manner.
Bourke-White’s personal life was relegated to the spare moments of her high-powered career. Nevertheless, she managed to fit in some flamboyant affairs and two brief marriages. Vicki Goldberg strives for a psychological account of these relationships and assesses the influence of Margaret’s brilliant father and strong-willed mother.
Overall, one is left with an impression of a solitary, driven personality who cared for her trailblazing image and her photography far more than for her friends, family, or lovers, finding her identity in her accomplishments. Such a person is a difficult subject for biography if more than a compendium of worldly achievements is...
(The entire section is 243 words.)
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Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Margaret Bourke-White was a pioneering news photographer who helped develop and define the field of photojournalism.
Margaret Bourke-White was born June 14, 1904, in the New York borough of the Bronx, the second in a family of three children. Bourke-White’s father, Joseph White, was an engineer and inventor, and her mother, Minnie (née Bourke), was trained as a stenographer. The White children were reared in a strict but loving household. Joseph and Minnie White encouraged their children’s curiosity about the natural world and strove to instill in them the values of determination and hard work. Margaret later remembered that her mother taught her to “never take the easy path.”
When Margaret was a small child, her family moved to Bound Brook, New Jersey, where she attended public schools. She later attended Plainfield High School, where she served as yearbook editor and, as a sophomore, won a school literary competition—activities that highlighted her talent for writing. Upon graduation from high school in 1921, she attended Columbia University for one semester, during which she took a photography course. She left school after her father died in 1922, but returned to college the next year after winning a scholarship to study at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
At the University of Michigan, Margaret met Everett Chapman, a doctoral candidate in...
(The entire section is 2006 words.)