Duff Twysden or Lady Brett Ashley should we say? Part ONE.

Fascinating. 1925 Paris. Duff died very young at age 36 of tuberculosis as i recall. She was smart, beauRead and enjoy. Best, Christine

The Untold Story of the Woman Who Inspired Hemingway to Write The Sun Also Rises

An exclusive look at the last known of photograph of Lady Duff Twysden.





Several years ago, I came across a photograph of young Ernest Hemingway sitting at a cafe table with a group of people, including one beguiling, fashionable lady. There was something about the way she gazed at the camera; she managed to be both demure and coquettish. I soon learned that her name was Lady Duff Twysden, and that she had been the real-life inspiration for Lady Brett Ashley, Hemingway’s iconic femme fatale in his debut novel, The Sun Also Rises

I was astonished at first; I have long been a Lost Generation obsessive, but I hadn’t realized that Brett was drawn from real life, and I wanted to learn more about her. I started looking for a compelling account of the full, real-life story behind The Sun Also Rises, and found nothing. I decided to write that book myself—Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises—and spent many subsequent months in Lady Duff’s company.



She was a tricky person to reconstruct. When she died, she left no known diaries, few surviving letters, no self-aggrandizing memoir—which was rather unusual within her coterie of publicity-seeking expats. Anyone and everyone who ever had a Hemingway connection seems to have turned it into a book at one point or another. Very few photos exist of Duff; I’ve only seen three from the 1920s, when she was allegedly at the peak of her allure.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

Much of what is known about Duff has been pieced together through the testimonies and writings of her contemporaries. When Hemingway met her in 1925, she was in her mid-thirties. A Brit, she had acquired her title by marriage, but was soon to lose it: she had come to Paris to weather a nasty divorce. Her aristocratic husband had remained back in the U.K. Though a notoriously hard drinker, she handled her liquor admirably for such a stylishly lithe creature.

“We were all in love with her,” recalled writer Donald Ogden Stewart. “It was hard not to be. She played her cards so well.”

Everywhere Lady Duff went, a flock of men sat at her feet, “listening to her every word, loving her looks and her wit and her artistic sensitivity,” as one former expat put it. “We were all in love with her,” recalled writer Donald Ogden Stewart. “It was hard not to be. She played her cards so well.” She treated her many admirers with a democratic flippancy, calling each of them “darling,” possibly because she couldn’t remember any of their names.



A few writers in the expat colony in Paris were already eyeing her as a muse for their writings, and it was perhaps only a matter of time before someone translated her on paper as a character in a novel.

Hemingway got there first. Even though he was married to his first wife, Hadley, when he met Duff, he reportedly became “infatuated” with her, according to one of his former Paris friends. The timing of Duff’s entrance into his life was auspicious: Hemingway was, at that moment, trying to stage a professional breakthrough and desperately needed material to create the all-important debut novel.

Lady Duff would soon provide the basis for the perfect anti-heroine. That summer, when Hemingway took an entourage to Pamplona, Spain, to take part in the San Fermin bullfighting festival there, Lady Duff came along, with two of her lovers in tow, no less. 

As one might reasonably expect, the voyage was not a harmonious one. The outing quickly devolved into a Bacchanalian morass of sexual jealousy and gory spectacle. Hemingway nearly came to fisticuffs with one of Duff’s suitors, Harold Loeb; Duff herself materialized at lunch one day with a black eye and bruised forehead, possibly earned in a late-night scrap with her other lover, Pat Guthrie. Despite the war wound and atmosphere she was creating, Twysden reportedly glowed throughout the fiesta. The drama became her.

It also became Hemingway, but in a different way. Seeing Twysden there amidst all of that decadence triggered something in him. He realized that he finally had the basis for an incendiary story. The moment he and Hadley left Pamplona to watch bullfights throughout the region, he began transcribing the entire spectacle onto paper.

Suddenly every illicit exchange, insult, and bit of unrequited longing that had happened within his entourage during the fiesta had a serious literary currency. The story became a novel—eventually titled The Sun Also Rises—which he finished in just six weeks.



In the end, The Sun Also Rises was a (barely) fictionalized account of the events that had gone down in Pamplona. Donald Stewart, who appeared in the book’s pages as “Bill Gorton,” was astonished that Hemingway was even passing it off as fiction: it was, in Stewart’s opinion, “nothing but a report on what happened … [it was] journalism.”

The first draft of the manuscript even contained the names of the real-life people up until the very last page. Lady Duff would not become Lady Brett until Hemingway revised the book. (He considered and rejected various names for her character, including “Lady Doris.”) Yet little about Lady Brett Ashley was fictional: in a later-omitted introduction to the book, Hemingway laid out Duff’s background in excruciating detail, from her failed marriage to her drinking habits to her physicality, including her sleek, boy-short haircut, then known as an Eton crop.

Hemingway’s Joan Miro, the farm

BLOG POST                                                                                      March 11, 2019

Hemingway’s Joan Miró

The below statement of the history Joan Miró The Farmis taken, in large part, from the printout of the National Gallery of Art and its description of its provenance.

In all of my reading about Hemingway, I don’t have a clear impression as to whether or not he was a devoted art lover. I do know, though, that he loved the paint by Joan Miró called The Farm. It was painted on oil canvass in 1921-22 and Hemingway’s path crossed with Miró, Dali, Picasso during the Paris years of the 20s. Hemingway and Hadley (his wife at the time) acquired it somewhere toward the end of 1925. It’s not clear if their friend Evan Shipman had it previously. It stayed within Hemingway family until Mary Welsh Hemingway, Hemingway’s fourth wife and his wife at the time of his death, bequeathed it in 1987 to the National Gallery.

That is the Miro in Hem’s Dining room in Cuba. It’s larger than i expected

There is a bit of history and backstory, however. Hemingway wrote in a 1934 article that Evan Shipman originally wanted to buy it and then he reconsidered and thought Hemingway should have the painting. The story goes that the two rolled dice for it and Hemingway won purchasing the painting from Galerie Pierre by paying for it in monthly installments. 

When Hemingway and Hadley divided their personalty when they were divorced in December 1926, Hemingway delivered the painting to Hadley (per Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s biographer). Hadley maintained the painting for a few years lending it on occasion to various exhibitions. In approximately 1934, Hemingway, who was then living in Key West, asked Hadley to lend it to him for a time and she did. Despite a bitter divorce, they were on good terms and co-parented their son Jack before co-parenting was a “thing.”

Hemingway then lent the painting to a Miró exhibit in New York and the painting was shipped back to Hemingway. He never returned it to Hadley despite requests by her. When he moved to Cuba in 1939/1940, the painting remained in his possession until his death in 1961.

When Hadley was interviewed by Alice Sokoloff she said, “Everyone Ernest married after me thought the Miró belonged to her.” 

After Hemingway’s death, Hadley and Mary reached an agreement out of court through their lawyers. Mary paid Hadley in return for Hadley given up her claims to the painting. Mary bequeathed to the National Gallery.

Hotchner does Play of The Old Man and the Sea

PlayJanuary 31, 2019

  • Robin Young
  • Oh boy, Is this great?! while not an action packed play, i’m sure, I can’t wait to see this. And Aaron Hotchner. If anyone can adapt the book, he can. Always a loyal friend to Hemingway. Best for the new year to all Hemingway readers: fans, not such fans, and the obsessed like me. Happy new year! Christine

Actor Anthony Crivello plays the roll of Santiago in a stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea" during a dress rehearsal at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. The stage version was written by journalist and playwright AE Hotchner, the writer's confidant and fishing companion in Cuba during the period in which the novella was written, and his son Tim Hotchner. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
Actor Anthony Crivello plays the roll of Santiago in a stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” during a dress rehearsal at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. The stage version was written by journalist and playwright AE Hotchner, the writer’s confidant and fishing companion in Cuba during the period in which the novella was written, and his son Tim Hotchner. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

It was 1952 when novelist Ernest Hemingway published his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Old Man and the Sea” — the sparingly written story of the down-on-his-luck Cuban fisherman Santiago, and his desperate attempt to catch a marlin after 85 increasingly desperate days without one.

But before the book’s release, Hemingway gave the manuscript to his friend A.E. Hotchner, also then in Cuba, and asked him for his opinion.

“I must say, I was transported. Imagine for the first time seeing the wrinkled-up pages and reading what will become an epic of American literature,” Hotchner tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Years later, when the movie based on the book, starring Spencer Tracy, opened in 1958, Hemingway took Hotchner with him to see it. When they left, Hemingway told his friend that maybe one day he — Hotchner — could try to do it better.

“Ernest was rather direct and he said, ‘Maybe someday you’ll take a shot at it,’ ” Hotchner recalls.

Ernest Hemingway's close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner holds a photograph of the pair together, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at the Hotchner family home in Westport, Conn. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Ernest Hemingway’s close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner holds a photograph of the pair together, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at the Hotchner family home in Westport, Conn. (Kathy Willens/AP)

That was 61 years ago. Now, at age 101, Hotchner has done just that alongside his son Tim. The stage adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea” the two wrote together will open at the Pittsburgh Playhouse of Point Park University on Friday, in partnership with RWS Entertainment Grou


Interview HighlightsOn the moment when Hemingway gave him “The Old Man and the Sea” manuscript

A.E. Hotchner: “Well we just had dinner. I had gone into my guest house and he came in with a sheaf of typewritten manuscript in his hand and he said, ‘I just finished this. Mary typed it up. Would you like take a look at it?’ And I said, ‘Sure leave it.’

“A few weeks later, he called and said, ‘Life magazine wants to publish it in one issue, but I wonder if I should save it to do a bigger book about the sea?’ And I said, ‘Well, you told me one of the golden rules of freelancing is if you write something and they want to publish it, grab the money and run.’ So we did. And let’s go about five years later, he’s come to New York for the World Series. But ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ has just been made into a movie with Spencer Tracy. We’re walking down Park Avenue and he said, ‘Why don’t we go and take a look at it?’ which we did, and we lasted about 10 or 12 minutes and he turned to me and said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ And I said sure. So we left and he said, ‘You know, you write something and you like it. Over the years it does well, and then they do this to it. It’s like pissing in your father’s beer.’ “

On tackling the stage adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea”

A.E.: “It took me a long time. I wrote my biography of him, ‘Papa Hemingway.’ I did that five years after he died. But over the years, I kept thinking about him saying, ‘Why don’t you take a shot at it?’ And finally, I decided I would. It took me four or five years to get the version that I liked and I brought my son into it. We have high hopes.”

Tim Hotchner: “Well we spent about two months on it before rehearsals, really kind of reimagining the story, because you know it’s such a difficult one to put on the stage. Obviously it works beautifully as a book. So we really had a look at it. My father had the great idea of putting Hemingway in the piece.”

“This book has become such a treasure. It’s really a great example of how one man’s devotion to the cause of his life — which is the sea — is everybody’s devotion to some cause.”A.E. Hotchner

On the meaning behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel

A.E.: “You understand that this book has become such a treasure. It’s really a great example of how one man’s devotion to the cause of his life — which is the sea — is everybody’s devotion to some cause, this old man and his attitude and his achievement, and yet he falls short. But in a way, that touches the course of everyone’s life. That’s really what goes out on the stage.”

Tim: “It had been 11 years since Hemingway wrote ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’and he had a lot to prove at this time in his career as well.”

A.E.: “He had previously, not very long before, written a novel called ‘Across the River and into the Trees.’ And for the first time in his long writing life, that book had been roundly assaulted by the critics, the sharks. So now, he has to organize himself to write a rebuttal. And ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is Hemingway, the old man, getting back at the elements that have attacked his virtuosity.”

Ernest Hemingway's close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner, left, and his son Tim Hotchner, a documentary filmmaker and writer, chat during an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at the family's home in Westport, Conn. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Ernest Hemingway’s close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner, left, and his son Tim Hotchner, a documentary filmmaker and writer, chat during an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at the family’s home in Westport, Conn. (Kathy Willens/AP)

On Hemingway’s personality

A.E.: “Well Hemingway and I had many adventures together — bullfighting, fishing. But he was not the braggadocio, knock-down-the-opposition man, that has sort of endured over the years. He was really much more introspective, much quieter. He was belligerent and he was tough … but that was not the overriding menace of his personality.”

On capturing the essence of Hemingway onstage

Tim: “So once we started to kind of play with reimagining it and that dichotomy, we kind of started to think Hemingway could move around. He can be a part of not just the narration, but a part of the exploration to actually bring out what I think Mr. Hemingway was getting at with a lot of the character traits, especially of Santiago. He’s a moving, living, breathing character. And again, this is I think Hemingway’s most sensitive piece in terms of nature and our relationship to the environment and the sun and the moon and stars and all these things that these days, we seem to want to kind of conquer. And Hemingway was saying, ‘Let’s just sit back and behold some of these.’ “

On what Hemingway would think of their stage adaptation

A.E.: “It’s very hard to know. I think that he would applaud the fact that we didn’t put the book on a pedestal and just replicate it. … It did bother me for a lot of years, that tossing around in my mind. I couldn’t find a way to get it away from its literary self and into its dramatic self.”

Tim: “And to just see my old man, kind of in his perseverance and his kind of going back after the marlin repeatedly, I mean he’s always said that’s what’s gotten him to 101. That we can be destroyed, but we can’t be defeated, I guess.”

Karyn Miller-Medzon produced this interview and edited it for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on January 31, 2019.

Hemingway on Hong Kong

Good morning, Hemingway Readers: I’ve edited the below to focus on Hemingway but it is interesting all around! By Paul French, a true crime writer. I added a few photos.Thanks for reading Hemingway. Best, Christine

What authors from Kipling to Hemingway and Auden made of Hong Kong, good and bad

  • Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Auden, Ian Fleming – ‘Asia’s world city’ attracted some of the globe’s most celebrated writers
  • Author Paul French recalls how they praised, and condemned, Hong Kong


Visiting writers have had a mixed response to Hong Kong over the years.

Rudyard Kipling may have gone on to be dubbed the “Bard of the British Empire”, but he had nothing good to say about Hong Kong, which he visited in 1889, only to be outraged by the presence of white prostitutes (he’d never had any problems with Indian ones in the brothels of Lahore.

Image result for The Painted Veil
The Painted Veil

Somerset Maugham was famously “welcome only once” wherever he went. This was due to his rather scurrilous short stories that resulted from his travels, and which enraged expats in the likes of Malaya and Singapore. In 1925, Maugham’s novel The Painted Veil was published. It was set partly in Hong Kong, which he had visited. The story of the lovely but shallow Kitty Fane, adulterous wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in China, and of her husband’s revenge, outraged Hong Kong

The 2006 movie of the novel (the third film adaptation) , starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, also shied away from the British colony and set the adulterous affair in Shanghai. With cinema audiences, at least, Shanghai’s reputation as sin city has frequently overwhelmed that of Hong Kong, though – in keeping with tradition – after The Painted Veil, Maugham was no longer welcome in the territory.

American playwright Eugene O’Neill sought to escape the hassles of success and a failed marriage, and travel to Shanghai in 1928.  When his liner finally reached Victoria Harbour, O’Neill opted to stay aboard, deciding that Hong Kong was “too damp” for him. Once in , he had a nervous breakdown.Image result for eugene o'neill

In 1938, W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood came to Hong Kong, en route for China, to cover the war with Japan. The trip led to their book Journey to a War (1939). They described it as a city of dinner parties, dinner jackets and taxis home.

War brought smart and savvy American war correspondent Martha Gellhorn to town in 1941. It was her first trip to the East and – despite her reason for coming – she had visions of a Maugham-type colonial lifestyle in the Orient. Gellhorn liked Hong Kong, but she was keen to get up into China and see the war. However, she was having a hard time shifting her “UC”.

Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway with unidentified Chinese military officers in Chungking, in 1941. Picture: JFK Presidential Library

The “Unwilling Companion” in question was her new husband and supposed war correspondent colleague Ernest Hemingway. Reporting their marriage, some wag at the South China Morning Post came up with the (rather good) headline, “For Whom the Belle Falls”.

Gellhorn was independent and tough. She had been a foreign correspondent in Paris with United Press in the early 1930s, then worked for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration during the Great Depression, as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Her work with photographer Dorothea Lange, documenting America’s poorest communities, resulted in one of the great books of the Depression, The Trouble I’ve Seen (1936).

In love and war: a Hong Kong honeymoon for Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn

Gellhorn had met Hemingway and then gone to cover the Spanish civil war and Nazi Germany. Now she wanted to see the war in China. However, the Post was only interested in Hemingway, whose arrival they eagerly anticipated. Gellhorn was dismissed in a passing mention as “a bottle blonde” – she certainly was not.

UC Hemingway had immediately taken to Hong Kong. He was happy to find a ready circle of hangers-on to praise him and pour his drinks at the bar of the Hongkong Hotel (which was on Pedder Street, in Central). Former Shanghailander and New Yorker correspondent Emily Hahn claimed Hemingway introduced the concept of the Bloody Mary to Hong Kong.

Hemingway (second from right) uses chopsticks in Hong Kong as a guest of British army officers.

The problem, however, was that the bar of the Hongkong Hotel was not where the story was. Gellhorn famously said, “Where I want to be, boy, is where it is all blowing up.” And that was not Hong Kong – not quite yet. But Hemingway would not be moved from the bar and so, in March 1941, Gellhorn flew to Chungking (today Chongqing), at night, freezing cold and at high altitude to avoid Japanese fighter planes.

Hemingway opted to stay in the British colony, enjoying his circle of admirers, annoying the management of the Hongkong Hotel by letting off firecrackers in his room and pushing all the furniture out into the corridor so he could teach his new gang of acolytes and drinking buddies to box. Hemingway then headed into the New Territories to hunt for pheasant in the company of Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen, who had been Sun Yat-sen’s cockney bodyguard, and who was in semi-retirement in Kennedy Town. Eventually, Hemingway had to go to China proper too – but he hated it and was glad to eventually get back to the United States, describing his entire Hong Kong-China trip as an “unshakeable hangover”.

James Bond author Ian Fleming.

More positively, in 1962, writer Ian Fleming arrived in Hong Kong on a BOAC jet and started enjoying life on The Sunday Times tab. The James Bond author thought Hong Kong the “most vivid and exciting city I have ever seen” and spent plenty of time enjoying Shek O and Big Wave Bay. In his Sunday Times column, later collated as the travelogue Thrilling Cities (1963), Fleming listed the best three things about Hong Kong as: 1) food; 2) suits tailored perfectly in 48 hours; and 3) cheap cigarettes at 1s 3d for twenty.

Paul French, author of true-crime bestseller Midnight in Peking (2011), is in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong International Literary Festival

12 Quotes: 9-12


It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.”


“We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist.”


“But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'”


“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.”

What does Hemingway’s New Story Mean?

What has led Jordan to abandon the comfortable life he was leading in America is the prospect of the Loyalist defenders of the Spanish Republic being overwhelmed by a fascist cabal relying on foreign aid. During the Spanish Civil War, America was neutral as a result of a bill President Roosevelt signed on May 1, 1937, banning the export of arms and ammunition to the warring parties in Spain.  

By contrast, neither Germany nor Italy saw any reason to remain neutral when they believed they had much to gain from helping a fascist ally. As historian Adam Hochschild notes in Spain Is in Our Hearts, his account of the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the German and Italian contributions to Franco were immense and gave both nations a chance to test out weapons they would use in World War II.

Some 19,000 German troops and instructors saw action in Spain or helped train Fascist troops, and nearly 80,000 Italian troops fought for Franco between the start of the Spanish Civil War and its conclusion. The Soviet Union, which for a period identified itself with the Loyalists, provided only limited aid by comparison.

For Hemingway, who made four trips to Spain to report on its Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Jordan was an admirable figure who reflected what was best about the 2,800 Americans who went to Spain to fight on the Loyalist side. Jordan knows that the Loyalist side he is on is capable of great cruelty. He is no fan of the Communists who are part of the Loyalist alliance. But Jordan sees the flaws in the fascists as so much greater than those of the Loyalists that he does not back away from the commitment he has made to the war.

In this commitment Jordan mirrors Hemingway, who in a 1937 letter described the Spanish Civil War as “the dress rehearsal for the inevitable European war.” Hemingway raised money in support of the Loyalist side, and with his future wife, the correspondent Martha Gellhorn, who travelled to Spain with him, he went to the White House for a showing of the pro-Loyalist film, The Spanish Earth, before President and Eleanor Roosevelt.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

In the end Hemingway had to content himself with doing his best rather than getting the outcome in Spain that he wanted, and so finally must Robert Jordan. What makes Jordan admirable is what made McCain admirable—his unwillingness to sit on the sidelines and watch democracy be undermined.

Ernest HEMINGWAY during Spanish Civil War.
In December 1937 Ernest Hemingway was covering the Loyalist assault on Teruel, the walled town in the bleak mountains of Southern Aragon, Gen. Franco was planning to use this corridor route to the Mediterranean thus seaparting Barcelona from Valencia and Madrid. Robert CAPA the photographer and Hemingway would with some colleagues drive daily to Teruel from Valencia and return each evening.
Valencia. Dec. 1937. Hemingway visiting the front line.

12 Hemingway Quotes: 5-8


“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”


“Gertrude Stein and me are just like brothers.”


“You see I am trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across – not to just depict life—or criticize it—but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can’t do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can’t believe in it.”


“There is seven-eights of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story.”

12 Great Hemingway Quotes: 1-4


“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you…. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”


“She shot very well this good, this rich bitch, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent. Nonsense. He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook.”

“Nick slipped off his pack and lay down in the shade. He lay on his back and looked up into the pine trees. His neck and back and the small of his back rested as he stretched. The earth felt good against his back. He looked up at the sky, through the branches, and then shut his eyes. He opened them and looked up again. There was a wind high up in the branches. He shut his eyes again and went to sleep.”


“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things.”

Ernest Hemingway “Death in the Afternoon”


Josephine BakerI love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?    Ernest Hemingway



The above cite purports to know what should/would be on Hem’s ipod.  Hmm, being a skeptic, I have to ask, “How do they know?”  Still we can speculate.

I see Hem listening to Sinatra.  I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s so 30’s and 40’s elegant. Hemingway called Josephine Baker, the African-American entertainer who emigrated to France around the same time as Hemingway was there,  “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.”

the elegant Ms. Baker
the elegant Ms. Baker

Hem claims he met Josephine Baker in Paris at the best jazz club ever called Le Jockey and that she was there one night:  “tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles.  Very hot night but she was wearing a coat of black fur. She turned her eyes on me and I cut in.  Everything under that fur communicated with me.  I introduced myself and asked her name.  “Josephine Baker,” she said.  We danced nonstop for the rest of the night. She never took off her fur coat.  Wasn’t until the joint closed she told me she had nothing on underneath.” (Papa Hemingway, A.E. Hotchner)

Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker

So I think we can presume that there is some great jazz on his ipod. I’ve seen photos of Papa dancing with Martha so he did enjoy music and dancing, it seems. That was the early 40’s.

In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Harry references a 1933 Cole Porter tune called “It’s Bad for Me”. I have to think that if he referenced it, he was familiar with Cole Porter’s music and he admired it.  In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris,Cole Porter is present at one of the impromptu parties all of which suggests that Cole Porter and Hem crossed paths in a good way in Paris and maybe in NY, although Hem didn’t love NY.Cole Porter

From Hem’s love of Cuba, I see a love of the Spanish blend with Jazz.  So what do you think is on Hem’s ipod?  some cat songs? Speaking of which I’m in the middle of reading Hemingway’s Cats.  Loving it, honestly.  There is also mention of his dogs. I’ll post on this subject some other day.

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana

We know that Hemingway’s mother had him playing the cello–badly if he is to be believed–and I’m sure chamber music was  prevalent in the Hemingway household of his youth. Perhaps, in light of Hem’s dislike of his mother, he never listened to classical music after he left the family womb.

A little Norah Jones?
A little Norah Jones?

I just read a great article in The Paris Review describing Hem’s work room in Cuba.  He stood up to write most of the time, with Black Dog sleeping at his feet for as long as it took. I believe the standing up thing was due to his bad back from the crazy plane crashes he was in.  The article describes the room in great detail down to the book cases, the desk, the shutters but no mention is made of a radio or a phonograph.  I can only conclude that Hem wrote with no accompaniement.  Actually, I just read that although he built himself that studio at the Finca (as part of the cat house) to write (the cats occupied the second floor, his studio was on the third floor), in actuality, he reverted to writing in the house.  He missed the animals and was more comfortable there.

Hem’s great pal, A.E.Hotchner, recalls Hem liking music but does not recall him going to concerts or music events. “He did not like theater, opera or ballet, and although he liked to listen to music he rarely, to my knowledge, attended a concert or any other musicial presentation, longhair or jazz.” A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page. 28.
Still he frequented many a jazz bar with Hem in Cuba.

My life falls apart when I'm awake!
My life falls apart when I’m awake!

Hem liked cigars, women, booze, and pals.  He was a great raconteur. I have to think that music went with it all. I see his ipod being loaded with Sinatra, Santana (if he were around then), Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Duke Ellington. What do you think?  He might even go for a bit of Tim McGraw while out in Ketchum.  Then again, I sure can see a bit of Parrot Head music while in Key West and Cuba. Take it away, Jimmy Buffett. Wasting away again in Margaritaville, looking for . . . .
Cuban JazzWho do you think is on Papa’s Ipod?

Music at Harry's Bar
Music at Harry’s Bar



The Movie about Forged Letters including Hemingway’s


Can you ever forgive me?

A new movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me, starring Melissa McCarthy, just came out. She plays a con artist and in essence a criminal who, in order to make money, spent 2 years in the early 1990’s writing forgeries of letters by the likes of Noel Coward, Hemingway, and Dorothy Parker. She then auctioned them off to collectors for quite hefty sums. The character is based on the real-life character, Lee Israel, who had originally been a New York based writer and she’d had some early successes penning biographies of Tallulah Bankhead and the game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen. However, before she turned to fraud, she was on welfare and had no literary prospects.

It will be interesting to see which Hemingway letters she worked off of or if she simply made up things whole cloth and was able to capture his voice. She must have been good because experts at the auctions must have accepted that these were the real thing.

McCarthy, who is best known for her comedy roles, her SNL take on Sean Spicer, Bridesmaids, and similar comedies, is receiving early praise for this serious role. It could be a good movie to see over the holidays!

Big Big letter writer