Who can forget Agnes’ “Dear John” letter to Hemingway? And other stinging rejections. Best, Christine

9 Unforgettable Breakup Letters From History

“Going out with you was like going out with a priest.”


By Ellen Gutoskey

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the set of 'The Sandpiper' (1965).
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the set of ‘The Sandpiper’ (1965). / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages


1. Agnes von Kurowsky to Ernest Hemingway

Agnes von Kurowsky in Romania in 1921. / American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division // No Known Restrictions on Publication

The inspiration for the romance in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms was his own affair with Agnes von Kurowsky, a 26-year-old Red Cross nurse he met while recovering from a shrapnel injury in Milan, Italy, during World War I. A few months after Hemingway—who was only 19 at the time—returned to the U.S. to find a place for them to live together, he received a letter in which von Kurowsky not only ended their relationship but also confessed that the time apart had given her the distance she needed to realize that she’d probably never been in love with him.

To add insult to injury, von Kurowsky told him that she’d soon be marrying someone else (an Italian millionaire, though she didn’t mention that). “And I hope & pray that after you have thought things out, you’ll be able to forgive me & start a wonderful career & show what a man you really are,” she wrote.

2. Marlon Brando to Solange Podell

Marlon Brando circa 1951. / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

Solange Podell was a French cabaret dancer and actor who met Marlon Brando backstage after a 1947 Broadway performance of A Streetcar Named Desire (in which Brando played Stanley Kowalski, a role he’d reprise for the 1951 film adaptation). The two struck up a relationship, which Brando ended sometime in the late 1940s via a letter written in pencil (and bearing a few spelling errors):

“In order that you won’t think me a complete boor, I am writing you this letter to explain that because of an erratic, flighty, fly-by-night, temperment I wish not to humiliate and degrade your sentiments by seeing you only at my mood’s conveinence. Please accept this letter with an open heart as it is written with fourthright sincerity. I’m sorry I could not have tried harder to be less self indulgent and theirwith, a little more compatable. My intuitions were flawlessly scroupulous but my emotions, unfortunately, unstable. I will remember you with fondness, regard, and appreciation. When we meet in France (perhaps in October) I trust my behavior will be a trifle more adult.”

Brando signed off “with warmth” and a postscript asking that Podell pass along his “kind acknowledgements” to her mother, “if she’ll accept them.”

3. Edith Wharton to W. Morton Fullerton

Edith Wharton with her Chihuahuas Mimi and Miza circa 1890. / Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University,, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In April 1910, The Age of Innocence author Edith Wharton penned one hell of a “What are we?” missive to her on-again-off-again beau, journalist W. Morton Fullerton, who was giving her emotional whiplash with his mercurial changes in behavior.

“I don’t know what you want, or what I am! You write to me like a lover, you treat me like a casual acquaintance!” she wrote. “I have borne all these inconsistencies & incoherences as long as I could, because I love you so much, & because I am so sorry for things in your life that are difficult & wearing … Only now a sense of my worth, & a sense also that I can bear no more, makes me write this to you. Write me no more such letters as you sent to me in England.”

Wharton was especially upset because she would have been fine with friendship, but Fullerton’s mixed messages prevented them from settling into any kind of comfortable dynamic. “My life was better before I knew you. That is, for me, the sad conclusion of this sad year. And it is a bitter thing to say to the one being one has ever loved d’amour,” she wrote.

4. Jackie Kennedy to R. Beverley Corbin Jr.

Jackie at her wedding to John F. Kennedy in 1953. / Keystone/GettyImages

While at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut during the mid-1940s, a teenaged Jackie Kennedy (then Bouvier) dated a Harvard University student named R. Beverley Corbin Jr. Her letters to him, usually addressed to “Dearest Bev” or “Buddy darling,” shed light on her feelings about boarding school (which she hated) and about Bev himself, whom she came to realize she didn’t actually love.

In one letter from January 20, 1947, she wrote, “I’ve always thought of being in love as being willing to do anything for the other person—starve to buy them bread and not mind living in Siberia with them—and I’ve always thought that every minute away from them would be hell—so looking at it that [way] I guess I’m not in love with you.”

She kept up correspondence with him after that, but the relationship eventually fizzled, and in 1951 she quashed any potential for a rekindling of it when she told him she was engaged to someone else. “What I hope for you is for the same thing to happen as quickly and as surely as it did with me. It will when you least expect it,” she wrote to Corbin. (She called off her own engagement after just a few months and tied the knot with John F. Kennedy in 1953.)

5. Mary Wollstonecraft to Gilbert Imlay

Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797. / Print Collector/GettyImages

Before Mary Wollstonecraft married William Godwin and gave birth to future Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, she had a daughter with Gilbert Imlay, an American author and diplomat. They never officially married, and Imlay’s constant traveling, infidelity, and generally poor treatment of Wollstonecraft effectively killed their relationship. In March 1796, Wollstonecraft sent her former lover what could aptly be described as an 18th-century version of a “Delete this number” text.

“You must do as you please with respect to the child.—I could wish that it might be done soon, that my name may be no more mentioned to you. It is now finished.—Convinced that you have neither regard nor friendship, I disdain to utter a reproach, though I have had reason to think, that the ‘forbearance’ talked of, has not been very delicate.—It is however of no consequence.—I am glad you are satisfied with your own conduct,” she wrote. “I now solemnly assure you, that this is an eternal farewell.”

6. Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in 1931. / Heritage Images/GettyImages

In 1953, Frida Kahlo was lying in a hospital bed trying to quickly finish a letter before doctors amputated her gangrene-infected leg. She was writing to her husband, Diego Rivera, who had carried on affairs—including one with Kahlo’s own sister, Cristina—throughout their relationship. (To be fair, Kahlo wasn’t faithful to him either.)

“Let’s not fool ourselves, Diego, I gave you everything that is humanly possible to offer and we both know that. But still, how the hell do you manage to seduce so many women when you’re such an ugly son of a bitch?” she wrote. “I’m writing to let you know I’m releasing you, I’m amputating you. Be happy and never seek me again. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want you to hear from me. If there is anything I’d enjoy before I die, it’d be not having to see your f***ing horrible bastard face wandering around my garden.”

She then readily contradicted herself by signing off like this: “Good bye from somebody who is crazy and vehemently in love with you.” The two didn’t cut ties after Kahlo’s operation.

7. Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor and Burton at their first wedding in 1964. / William Lovelace/GettyImages

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had been married for nearly a decade when Taylor broke things off, and Burton immortalized his reaction in a letter dated June 25, 1973. “So My Lumps,” it begins, “You’re off, by God! I can barely believe it since I am so unaccustomed to anybody leaving me. But reflectively I wonder why nobody did so before.”

He vacillates between praising her (“Don’t forget that you are probably the greatest actress in the world.”), criticizing himself (“I am a smashing bore and why you’ve stuck by me so long is an indication of your loyalty.”), and painting a portrait of what his life will look like without her.

“I shall miss you with passion and wild regret,” he says. “You may rest assured that I will not have affairs with any other female. I shall gloom a lot and stare morosely into unimaginable distances and act a bit—probably on the stage—to keep me in booze and butter, but chiefly and above all I shall write.”

The Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? stars officially divorced in June 1974, but ended up remarrying in October 1975 (and then got divorced again less than a year later, though they remained close until Burton’s death in 1984).

Anaïs Nin with bookstore owner George Leite in 1946. / Daliel Leite, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED

Writer Anaïs Nin and occasional poet C.L. “Lanny” Baldwin were both married when they began an affair in 1944, but by late summer the following year it had started to self-destruct. Baldwin accused her of being jealous and called her “a kind of dog in the manger with men, [wanting] them all to sit at your feet and be yours, all yours and only yours.”

Nin, who considered Baldwin extremely insecure both as an artist and as a man, practically laughed off his claims, explaining that she only sought affection elsewhere after realizing their own relationship was “dead” and Baldwin could “never enter [her] world”—one of passion, love, and the art that comes from it. “Going out with you was like going out with a priest,” she wrote in a letter postmarked August 25, 1945.

9. Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas

Wilde (left) and Douglas in 1893. / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

In early 1897, as Oscar Wilde was nearing the end of his two-year prison sentence for “gross indecency” (having relationships with men), he wrote a 55,000-word letter to his lover Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, who hadn’t kept up correspondence with Wilde during his incarceration. Wilde berated Douglas for his insatiable need to control, which Wilde felt he himself had been subsumed by.

“Knowing that by making a scene you could always have your way, it was but natural that you should proceed, almost unconsciously I have no doubt, to every excess of vulgar violence. At the end you did not know to what goal you were hurrying, or with what aim in view. Having made your own of my genius, my willpower, and my fortune, you required, in the blindness of an inexhaustible greed, my entire existence. You took it,” Wilde wrote. “Your pale face used to flush easily with wine or pleasure. If, as you read what is here written, it from time to time becomes scorched, as though by a furnace-blast, with shame, it will be all the better for you.”

The letter is a searing takedown, and without historical context you’d assume it was a death knell for the relationship. But soon after Wilde’s release from prison, he and Douglas were back on. “Everyone is furious with me for going back to you, but they don’t understand us,” Wilde wrote in August 1897. “I feel that it is only with you that I can do anything at all. Do remake my ruined life for me, and then our friendship and love will have a different meaning to the world.”

Moreover, Douglas claimed not to have known about Wilde’s prison letter for years. Upon his release, Wilde turned it over to his friend Robert Ross with instructions to make a copy and send the original to its intended recipient. According to Douglas, Ross never did (though not everyone believes that). What Ross definitely did do was publish excerpts from the letter several years after Wilde’s death under the title De Profundis.

“If I had received the letter, the whole course of subsequent history might have been altered,” Douglas wrote in his 1929 autobiography. “My indignation at Wilde’s grotesque lies and misrepresentations, and his abuse and insults, would perhaps have cured me once for all of my infatuation for him, which still survived so strongly in those days. Again, on the other hand, it is possible, and indeed probable, that I would have forgiven him.”


How it all Began: Hem’s Love Affair with Spain and Bull fighting. I hate bullfighting but admire some of the players and their personalities.



Hemingway and Ronda, a relationship of a hundred years

This year marks the centenary of the American writer’s first visit to Malaga province and the start of his passion for the bullfighting town in the mountains

Alekk M. Saanders


Friday, 3 November 2023, 16:01

Not many people know that before his much-written-about visit to Spain in 1923, Ernest Hemingway had already been to Andalucía. In 1919, the writer made a short stopover in Algeciras on his way back to the United States after serving in Italy, where he had gone in response to a plea for ambulance drivers on the Italian front.

Ordonez in his prime

However, it was only four years later when Ernest Hemingway came to Spain on the advice of the American novelist Gertrude Stein. In 1923, he left Paris to get the feel of Spain and to spend time in Madrid and Pamplona. The intention of Hemingway was to see the bulls and to try to write about bullfighting based on his own experience.

The young writer and his future publisher, Robert McAlmon, as well as (according to some sources) William Bird, an American publisher, later went south to discover the Andalusian cities of Seville, Granada and Malaga, as well as the town of Ronda.

Apparently, Seville didn’t impress Hemingway. American biographer Carlos Baker said Hemingway found the night in Seville boring. “They watched a few flamenco dances, where broad-beamed women snapped their fingers to the music of guitars… ‘Oh for Christ’s sake,’ he kept saying, ‘more flamingos!’ He could not rest until and McAlmon and Bird agreed to go on to Ronda…”

Ronda bullring.
Ronda bullring. A. M. Saanders

Ronda was a great surprise to Ernest Hemingway. He immediately fell in love with this spectacular town with an ancient bullring, high in the mountains above Malaga. Moreover, the renowned cradle of bullfighting inspired Hemingway to write. Ronda is mentioned in several of his works. For example, In Death in the Afternoon (1932) Hemingway wrote: “There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any direction is romantic background… if a honeymoon or an elopement is not a success in Ronda, it would be as well to start for Paris and commence making your own friends.”

Ronda inspired Hemingway to write his novel The Sun Also Rises (translated into Spanish and published in London under the title Fiesta) about a bullfighter. By coincidence, a genuine bullfighter from Ronda became the model for his book.

A matador from Ronda

The same year, when the American writer was in Ronda, 19-year-old bullfighter Cayetano Ordóñez debuted in the Maestranza Bullring. Then, the young man was mainly known by his nickname ‘Niño de la Palma’ because his parents owned the shoe shop in Ronda called La Palma. When Cayetano was 13, the boy performed as a bullfighter in the area’s ranches.

After his debut in Ronda’s bullring, Cayetano Ordóñez was immediately in demand by all the professional and amateur rings in Spain. The American writer followed the talented young bullfighter around the bullrings for a long time, notebook in hand to write down details about and around him. (Incidentally, one story says that once Ordóñez honoured Hemingway’s wife by presenting her with the ear of a bull he killed.)

Paseo de Hemingway, Ronda.
Paseo de Hemingway, Ronda. SUR

It is believed that Ernest Hemingway finally met up with Cayetano in a hotel in Pamplona for a long conversation. As a result, the influence of the young matador from Ronda on the book was so great that Hemingway had even to declare that “everything that happened in the ring was true, and everything outside was fiction”. Cayetano Ordóñez was aware of the fiction and never complained about it.

Years later, Ernest Hemingway met Cayetano’s son, Antonio Ordóñez, whom he also followed when he was writing chronicles for Life Magazine. It was in 1959 when Ernest Hemingway arrived in Malaga as a journalist to describe the rivalry of two prominent Spanish matadors – Antonio Ordóñez and Miguel Dominguín (also known internationally for his love affairs with Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth). Their competition in one season of bullfights eventually became the subject of Hemingway’s book The Dangerous Summer. Eventually, Ernest Hemingway became Antonio Ordóñez’s great friend and spent long sojourns at his ‘cortijo’ (a country house) near Ronda.





Library Corner: ‘A Farewell to Arms’ another banned classic

Eric Sandstrom
Special for the Grand County Library District
The cover of Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.”
Grand County LIbrary District/Courtesy image

Ernest Hemingway’s novel about World War I, “A Farewell to Arms,” has been named one of the 100 best books of the 20th century. Scholars called it a masterpiece. But…

There’s another side to the story. “A Farewell to Arms” was banned multiple times since it was published in 1929 for sexual content, and for its honest treatment of war. It was banned in Boston, Ireland, Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

In the United States, parents sometimes demanded it be removed from school libraries. (Which would prompt students to read “A Farewell to Arms” faster than you can say sexual content.)

I fell in love with this book over 50 years ago when a high school English teacher assigned it. Hemingway presents an exquisite study of young women and men struggling to survive the violence of war. His love story is charged with elements that exceeded my experience at 16, which made it an even more powerful read the second and third time around. (If there are prostitutes in the book, and there are indeed, that’s because prostitutes work their trade in every war. It is a sad historical fact.)

The narrator, Lieutenant Frederick Henry, is a Red Cross ambulance driver for the Italian army’s campaign against Austria and Germany. After he’s seriously wounded, Frederick falls in love with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse working in an Italian hospital.

The plot builds tension in two directions. First, Frederick returns to the front after surgery and his ambulance crew transports increasing numbers of casualties, badly wounded soldiers. Second, Catherine becomes pregnant with his child, and her health soon deteriorates.

Hemingway sends his characters into the depths of melancholy where the reader ponders the story’s great irony. Both love and war carry risks that may be fatal. Over time, Frederick changes from a naive do-gooder to a stone-cold killer. He ends up shooting an Italian soldier for abandoning his comrades. War brings out the very best and the absolute worst in people.

The narrator explains, “I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain… and I had seen nothing sacred and the things that were glorious had no glory…”

Admittedly, this book isn’t for everyone. Its depiction of World War I combat rings as true today as scenes from Afghanistan. But it shouldn’t have ever been banned. Just as some people prefer a cup of tea to coffee, they don’t have the right to shut down Starbucks. No one individual or mob should have the right to ban a book that millions of readers might learn from.

Great article about the friendship of Hem and Coop: So different and yet . . .


The unusual friendship between Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper


The unusual friendship between Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper

      Celebrity friendships are nothing new, with the business of entertainment bringing together many gregarious comedians, actors and more with bulging egos, but some are more eyebrow-raising than others. Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are certainly a curious friendship, as is Elton John and Eminem, but for my money, no duo are more mysterious and alluring than actor Gary Cooper and author

Star of such classic movies as 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town by director Frank Capra and 1952’s High Noon by Fred Zinnemann, Cooper was one of the great stars of mid-20th-century cinema. Earning two Academy Awards across the course of his career, for 1942’s Sergeant York and High Noon, Cooper was a prominent name in the industry, recognised as one of the very best of his time. Hem with the “Long-legged son of a bitch.”Hem with the “Long-legged son of a bitch.”

Meanwhile, on the totally other end of the spectrum was Ernest Hemingway, an iconic American novelist who penned such classics as 1932’s Death in the Afternoon and 1940’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. One of the 20th century’s very best creative minds, Hemingway rubs shoulders with the likes of George Orwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald when it comes to the era’s greatest authors.

Despite their totally separate lives in contemporary culture, Cooper and Hemingway became good friends from 1940 until 1961, with their relationship sparking following the film adaptation of Hemingway’s debut novel A Farewell to Arms. The film, named after the novel and directed by Frank Borzage, received widespread critical acclaim, but Hemingway wasn’t best pleased with the movie, apart from the performance of one Gary Cooper.

Many years later, the author promoted Cooper for the role of Robert Jordan in the upcoming adaptation of For Whom the Bell Tolls, even going so far as to state that the literary character was based on Cooper’s own integrity. The actor earned the role and became the greatest asset of the otherwise underwhelming film, strengthening the friendship of the two stars.

Hem, Coop, Rocky, and Martha

Sharing a love for the great outdoors, the unlikely duo spent many days across several years shooting duck and pheasant in the summer before taking to Sun Valley in the winter to ski. The pair were excitable, fuelled by a youthful exuberance that led them to seize life by the horns, poetically gazing over the wilderness with a similar sense of wonder to their favourite author, Rudyard Kipling.

As Cooper said of friendship and his true passion for the outdoors in the book Gary Cooper off Camera: A Daughter Remembers: “The really satisfying things I do are offered me, free, for nothing. Ever go out in the fall and do a little hunting? See the frost on the grass and the leaves turning? Spend a day in the hills alone, or with good companions? Watch a sunset and a moonrise?… Free to everybody”.

Indeed, Hemingway’s view was reciprocated, admiring Cooper for his passion for the outdoors and his surprising similarity to his charismatic, powerful on-screen persona. Stating in the book Gary Cooper: American Hero, Hemingway lovingly exclaimed: “If you made up a character like Coop, nobody would believe it. He’s just too good to be true”.

Rather poetically, the pair died within just seven weeks of each other in 1961, but not before they enjoyed one last holiday together, taking to Sun Valley in January of that year for a final hike through the snow.

The relationship between the pair is explored in the 2013 documentary Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen by filmmaker John Mulholland, who had plenty to say about the unpublicised relationship.

During an interview about the movie and the pair’s relationship, Mulholland stated: “Hemingway and Cooper both grew up under the sway of Teddy Roosevelt — live a dangerous life, test yourself, be a man of action. In many ways, Hemingway and Cooper defined masculinity for the first half of the 20th century. Stoic, strong, keep silent about your problems. Your emotions. They managed to hide, both men, their inner selves — sensitive, well-read, intelligent, etc”.

Take a look at the trailer for For Whom the Bell Tolls, the role which sparked the friendship between Cooper and Hemingway below.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) Official Trailer - Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman Movie HD
Hem and coop Sun Valley


Hemingway and the Plane Crashes

Hemingway Survived Two Plane Crashes. A Letter About Them Just Sold for Over $237,000.

“I am weak from so much internal bleeding,” the novelist wrote to his lawyer. “Have been a good boy and tried to rest.”

A black and white photograph shows an aged Ernest Hemingway wearing a light-colored plaid suit and a plaid cap. To his right is his wife, Mary, also wearing a light-colored suit, with a dark blouse. She is holding a purse.
Ernest Hemingway and his wife Mary Welsh Hemingway on a boat crossing the Atlantic in the 1960s.Credit…Getty Images


A four-page letter that Ernest Hemingway wrote to his lawyer after the writer survived two back-to-back plane crashes in East Africa in 1954 sold at auction for $237,055, according to Nate Sanders Auctions.

Bidding for the letter started at $19,250 and there were 12 total bids before the letter was sold last week, according to the auction house, which is based in Los Angeles and specializes in autographed items. It’s unclear who bought the letter.

Hemingway, 55 at the time, had been visiting Congo, Kenya and Rwanda with his fourth wife, the American journalist Mary Welsh Hemingway, on a hunting safari. Over the course of a few days, the couple were involved in two crashes, the second more violent than the first, that would leave their mark on him for the rest of his life.

In the first crash, their plane “clipped a telegraph wire and plunged onto the crocodile-infested shores of the Nile,” according to PBS. Hemingway wrote about his trip to Africa in Look Magazine in 1954, which included a 16-page spread about his safari to Kenya.

The couple had been reported missing when their plane failed to land as expected for refueling, The A.P. reported. They were later brought to a plane meant to rescue them, which then itself “crashed and burned on the take-off,” the news agency said. Everyone aboard escaped.

Dr. Andrew Farah, who wrote a book about Hemingway’s brain, described the second crash as more fiery and more violent, during a 2017 talk at the John F. Kennedy library. The pilot kicked out his front window to escape and save his passengers.

“He pulls Mary out, but Hemingway’s too big to get out the window,” Dr. Farah said. To escape from the aircraft, Hemingway, his shoulder still injured from the earlier crash, “chooses very unwisely to bust open the door with his head, giving himself a skull fracture and another concussion,” Dr. Farah said.

That decision would affect Hemingway’s brain for the rest of his life. After the crash, Dr. Farah said, “his memory was worse” and he had persistent headaches.

Hemingway memorabilia such as letters with his original signature or first editions of his books are auctioned off regularly and often fetch thousands of dollars, with some going for much higher. In Philadelphia in February, a first edition of Hemingway’s “In Our Time” from 1924 was auctioned for $277,000. Another signed letter was auctioned off last month at Nate Sanders Auctions, but went for much less: $6,875 after only one bid. In February, a more modern copy of “The Old Man and the Sea” went for more than $10,000 for a special reason: It had been the copy taken out of a high school library by a young Kobe Bryant.

In the crash letter — which was written on April 17, 1954, but was misdated as 1953 — Hemingway recounted the crashes and their effect on him, and told his lawyer Alfred Rice that he needed money. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with Abercrombie & Fitch, the brand now known for its all-American apparel, which at the time was more known for selling outdoor gear like guns.

“They sent me two .22 rifles of a type I did not order, several hundred rounds of ammo of another type than I had ordered,” Hemingway wrote, adding that he had to “shoot my first lion with a borrowed .256 Mannlicher which was so old it would come apart in my hands and had to be held together with tape and Scotch tape. Their carelessness in shipping imperiled both my life and livelihood.”

Much of the letter, which was handwritten on stationery from the Gritti Palace-Hotel in Venice, also goes into the gritty details of his injuries.


“I am weak from so much internal bleeding,” he added. “Have been a good boy and tried to rest.”

Hemingway’s wife did not come out of the plane crashes unscathed. According to an article by the United Press, she had two cracked ribs and was limping. Hemingway also focused on her mental state: “Mary had a big shock and her memory not too hot yet and it will take quite a time to sort things out,” he wrote to Mr. Rice.

Still, a sense of normalcy is infused in the letter. As Hemingway wrote on the final page: “Everything is fine here.”

5 Best Male Novelists: Phew, he made the list.

Best Male Writers Of All Time: Top 5 Novelists Most Recommended By Experts

The world of literature has expanded significantly during the past two centuries. Many of the male writers from the 18th and 19th centuries influenced modern authors. Regardless of whether you like short stories, works of nonfiction, or critical essays, there are some exceptional male authors to consider. With help from 10 expert sites, our team compiled a list of the best male writers of all time.

Sure, we can find any title by a classic author on our Kindle, but doesn’t that take away from the satisfaction of holding a paper book? It is, after all, how these writing icons started their famous pieces. Digital books on tabletssmartphones, and devices like Amazon’s Kindle are certainly convenient, but according to a new survey, most people still prefer a good old-fashioned paper book. There’s just something satisfying about turning the page and holding a physical book in one’s hands, as over two-thirds of adults say they always opt for a real book over digital reading.

Paper or digital, there are some major benefits to reading fiction. A recent study found that picking something from the fiction section may also help improve your verbal skills while entertaining you at the same time. Researchers from Concordia University in Canada say reading for fun, especially when it’s fiction, boosts a reader’s scores on language tests. Fiction books—from “The Hunger Games” to “Harry Potter“—often don’t receive the same praise for their educational benefits as their non-fiction counterparts. However, the team found that reading for fun led to higher scores on tests than those reading only for “function”—to gain specific knowledge from a non-fiction book. Reading for pleasure is highly beneficial for both children and adults. Studies show that regular reading has a connection to greater social skillscritical thinking, and empathy, in addition to increased language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Authors help you escape reality, some in different ways and genres than others. Male writers have catapulted us from the depths of horror into the deep, angry sea. Of those authors, StudyFinds went to 10 expert websites to compile a list of the best male writers of all time whose work deserves to be part of your library. Tell us about your favorite writers—or the ones we missed—and the books you love in the comments below.

The List: Best Male Writers, According to Experts

1. Stephen King

“One of the world’s most successful and prolific writers, Stephen King has published more than 90 horror, suspense, crime, science fiction, and fantasy novels in his lifetime to date. Many of his best-selling books have been adapted into films and television series,” shares Audible.

"The Shining" (1977)
“The Shining” (1977)

Believe it or not, Stephen King had a period where he thought he might not be good enough to publish. “It is no surprise to see Stephen King as one of the most published authors. He once said that he writes 2,000 words a day, which accounts for how quickly you see his books on shelves (and on the big screen). Records say that King has published 60 full-length works and over 200 short stories,” says Iris Reading.

King also has essays, screenplays, and comics. You have to wonder how one author could write something as horrific as “Carrie” and then create a heartwarming story like “The Green Mile.” King is definitely a writer of all trades. “King’s influence in writing was greatly attributed to his trauma after losing his friend in a train accident when he was a kid and also to his love for horror comics in his childhood,” states Discover Walks.

2. William Faulkner

One of the most persuasive writers to ever come out of the Southern United States is William Faulkner. “Faulkner produced a writing work in the mid-twentieth century that took a couple of years to acknowledge his existence amongst the crowd. Somewhere between 1929 and 1936, he released four books—’The Sound and the Fury,’ ‘As I Lay Dying,’ ‘Light in August,’ and ‘Absalom, Absalom!’—that characterized his continuous flow style and his investigations of profound quality, utilizing characters set in his local Mississippi. He additionally composed screenplays for executive director Howard Hawks for ‘To Have and Have Not’ and ‘The Big Sleep,’ which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1949, which presented to him another degree of popularity,” shares leverageedu.com.

William Faulker's "As I Lay Dying" (1930)
William Faulker’s “As I Lay Dying” (1930)

Before Faulkner became a successful author, he served during World War I. “Faulkner wrote short stories and novels set in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional county in Mississippi. His most famous works include ‘The Sound and the Fury,’ ‘As I Lay Dying,’ and ‘Go Down Moses,’ says Become a Writer Today.

Faulkner typically wrote about themes and topics such as the Ku Klux Klan, racism, the impact of the American Civil War, and the Confederacy. “William Faulkner, born William Cuthbert Falkner on September 25, 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi, and died July 6, 1962 (aged 64) in Byhalia, Mississippi, was an American novelist and short story writer. Published in the 1920s, it was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, when it was still relatively unknown,” states Fiction Horizon.

As a novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and short-story writer, many people consider F. Scott Fitzgerald to be one of the best American authors of the 20th century. “Fitzgerald wasn’t very popular during his lifetime. His works gained international acclaim only in the years following his untimely death at 44. Many of his works have been adapted into films,” states The Famous People.

"The Great Gatsby" (1925)
“The Great Gatsby” (1925)

Fitzgerald was born in Minnesota and wrote the popular novel “The Great Gatsby.” “F. Scott Fitzgerald was the most famous writer of the Jazz Age—a term that he popularized. The novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and short story writer was known as much for his lavish lifestyle as his literary works,” says Audible.

No Sweat Shakespeare says “The Great Gatsby” “vies for the title ‘Great American Novel’ with Mark Twain’s ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick.’”

4. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist and short-story writer who had a strong impact on 20th-century fiction. “Hemingway published seven novels and six short-story collections and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ and ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ are some of his classic works. He ended his own life in July 1961,” says The Famous People.

"The Old Man and the Sea" (1952)
“The Old Man and the Sea” (1952)

Prolific American author Ernest Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. “When World War I broke out, he served as an ambulance driver. He was wounded in the line of duty, forcing him to return home. After the war, he worked as a journalist for a few years. Then, he decided to become a novelist,” shares Become a Writer Today.

The book that positioned Ernest Hemingway as a prolific novelist is “The Sun Also Rises.” While the book did not receive amazing reviews at the time, it is widely considered to be an iconic piece of literature from the early 20th century. “He was born into the hands of his physician father. He was the second of six children of Dr. Clarence Hemingway and Grace Hemingway (the daughter of English immigrants). His father’s interests in history and literature, as well as his outdoorsy hobbies (fishing and hunting), became a lifestyle for Ernest,” states IMDB.

5. Herman Melville

Herman Melville is a poet, writer, and novelist of the 19th century. “Melville was born in New York City to a merchant who did well for himself. However, after his father died in 1832, the family was in a dire financial situation. At the age of twenty, he got a job as a sailor on a merchant ship. He spent much of his life chasing whales in the ocean. He spent a lot of time adventuring on the Marquesas Islands. His first book, ‘Typee,’ was about the people he ran into on that island,” shares Become a Writer Today.

"Moby Dick"
“Moby Dick” (1851)

Melville’s marquee work is “Moby Dick,” which he published in 1851. In the early 20th century, there was a significant Melville Revival, positioning him as one of the greatest American authors of all time. “A novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period, Herman Melville is widely considered to have been unappreciated in his time and throughout his life. His works garnered greater success after his death,” says Audible.

Herman Melville produced several books during his literary career. He published various short fiction works, including “Bartleby the Scrivener.” “It’s easy to forget that the American author best known for ‘Moby Dick’ remained largely unrecognized during his lifetime, especially since his characters—like Starbuck, the inspiration for the café chain, or the ‘white whale,’ now shorthand for any far-fetched aspiration—have settled themselves so firmly into common usage,” explains Christies.com.

When the Uncle of your Wife Buys you a House

A Farewell to Arms
Farewell to Arms
Key West
Key West
Hem and Pauline
Pauline and Hem

A few facts about The Hemingway House at 907 Whitehead Street: It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Key West

Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, lived very modestly in Paris. Hadley had a small trust that enabled them as young newly weds to go abroad and for Hemingway to focus on his writing. He did earn money from his journalism but the trust helped significantly.

When Hem met and fell in love with a young and stylish writer for Vogue in Paris, Pauline Pfeiffer, he felt guilt but he also had fewer money worries when he left Hadley for her good friend, Pauline. Pauline was from a wealthy family from St. Louis. Her family made money in Pharmaceuticals and her Uncle Gus funded the purchase of the home in Key West. Hem dedicated A Farewell to Arms to Uncle Gus.

Sara Murphy and Pauline Hemingway
Sara Murphy and Pauline Hemingway

Still, it can rankle to live in a house paid for by your wife’s family and Hemingway wrote in The Snows of Kilimanjaro through the main character, Harry, that the rich had ruined Harry’s fervor for writing bravely and writing all that he needed to.  The parallels are not too subtle as to Hemingway’s own life,. If you visit Key West, there is still a penny cemented into the pool surround. Supposedly Hemingway was irritated with the escalating costs of renovation and the pool in particular.  It was one of the largest in its day.  He told Pauline in a fit of pique that it was taking his last penny, so she threw one into the cement as it was setting. It’s still there. The woman had a sense of humor!

Key West is a lovely home, more elegant than Cuba, but Cuba was wilder, rougher, and I think more to Hemingway’s taste.

Hem’s 16 Essential Books for Reading

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was notoriously generous to young writers and fans seeking his input.  A.E. Hotchner who became a good confidante and friend met  Hem in the Spring of 1948 when he was dispatched to Cuba on assignment by Cosmopolitan magazine to get an article on Hem about The Future of Literature.  The magazine was putting out an issue about “the future” of everything: architecture, cars, art, etc. You get the idea.  So why not have the lion of literature give an interview on the future of literature.

Hotchner sent a note to Hem saying that he’d been sent down on “this ridiculous mission but did not want to disturb him, and if he could simply send me a few words of refusal it would be enormously helpful to the The Future of Hotchner.” A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway. Page 4.

 Instead, Hem rang him the next day.

“This Hotchner?” he asked


“Dr. Hemingway here. Got your note. Can’t let you abort your mission or you’ll lose face with the Hearst organization, which is about like getting bounced from a leper colony.  You want to have a drink around five? There’s a bar called La Florida. Just tell the taxi.”  A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, page 4.

. And thus began a beautiful friendship.(Of course many challenge if this anecdote is true. Hotchner: true friend or self-serving pal?)

Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
I recently read an article that detailed how  one Arnold Samuelson hitchhiked 2,000 miles, from Minnesota to Florida in 1934 to meet Hemingway. Samuelson was trying to make a go of it as a writer and was so impressed by the short stories that he traveled to get advice from his idol.

Samuelson wrote, “It seemed a damn fool thing to do, but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.”

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
 Ultimately, Samuelson found Hemingway who provided him with insights, and soon hired him on as his assistant.  Hem gave him a list of 16 books essential to any complete education.  The list is interesting to consider.

Drum roll:  the list is:

1. “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
2. “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
3. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
4.”Dubliners” by James Joyce
5. The Red and the Black” by Stendhal
6.  “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham
7. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
8. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
9. “Buddenbrooks” by Thomas Mann
10. “Hail and Farewell” by George Moore
11.”The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12. “The Oxford Book of English Verse”
13.  “The Enormous Room” by E.E. Cummings
14.  “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte
15.  “Far Away and Long Ago” by W.H. Hudson
164.  “The American” by Henry James

So what would make your list?  A few of the above escape me but most have stood the test of time.

The Old Man and The Sea
The Old Man and The Sea

The Last Interview (Hemingway, Nora Ephron, and Philip K. Dick). This is not to be missed. Sorry you have to copy link into your browser but you will be rewarded. Listening to Maureen Corrigan is rewarding as well. Best, Christine

These are interesting relatively short vignettes/interviews in which the writers noted talk about life issues and writing. The Hemingway interviews print out to about 112 pages. The below link is an NPR link about the interviews and how alike the three writers featured were in their approaches to writing.

nora ephron

Here is a quote from the article:  “Despite their differences, in their respective interviews, Hemingway, Dick and Ephron are in harmonious agreement about the writing life: namely that it’s composed of one part inspiration and daily buckets of perspiration. Sure, you don’t expect even the most narcissistic artist to go on and on about his or her own genius in an interview, but the degree to which Hemingway, Dick and Ephron — separated by time period and individual temperament — keep hammering home the same message about writing is striking.”

I just finished reading the Hemingway interviews. All were interesting and I particularly like the one by George Plimpton. When Plimpton asked why Hemingway rewrote the end of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Hemingway said, “To get the words right.” One point that came through repeatedly was how shy Hemingway was when sober and how unwilling he was to talk about his writing “process” or theory.  He felt that to try to analyze his “style” or “technique” might destroy it and he assiduously did not want to talk about those issues.  In fact, he didn’t really want to be interviewed at all but was polite. At times he rambled but these interviews were during periods when Hemingway was suffering bouts of poor health.  Hem is described as seeming old and lonely.

I think you will enjoy them.  Two were done in the late ’50s.  One was done in 1960, which is a year before his death.  Best,  Christine