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.
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.
“Only one marriage I regret. I remember after I got that marriage license I went across from the license bureau to a bar for a drink. The bartender said, ‘What will you have, sir?’ And I said, ‘A glass of hemlock.’ Ernest Hemingway
One afternoon in late December as he prepared to leave the cool sawdust interior of Sloppy Joe’s, a trio of tourists walked in. One was a young woman with beautiful hair—tawny gold, loosely brushing her shoulders. She wore a plain black cotton sundress whose simplicity called attention in a well-bred way to her long, shapely legs. Bernice Kurt, The Hemingway women. Page 28.
Martha was lovely, smart, and determined. Born on November 8, 1908, her parents were well educated, a physician and a worker for social causes. Just as Pauline was determined to get Hem from Hadley, Martha knew she needed Hem as her mate. Martha was from St. Louis, just as Hadley and Pauline were. Coincidence but an interesting one. Martha attended Bryn Mawr but left at the end of her junior year. She wanted to be a foreign correspondent and did work in Europe for several years. She returned to the US, became a life-long friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s. Money was tight but Martha persevered. She wrote a well-received book called the Trouble I’ve Seen, about four age groups who were caught in the cycle of unemployment
Hem was nine years older than Martha but seemed older. He was a world acclaimed novelist. Compared to Pauline, she was flashy and accomplished. As for her early impressions of Hem, she wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, “an odd bird, very lovable and full of fire and a marvelous story teller. So I sit about and have just read the mss of his new book and been very smart about it.” Kurt, page 291.
The relationship progressed as they bonded over the Spanish Revolution. Hem was on the fence as to allegiance, in true newsman fashion. Martha was for the Rebels. Both cared deeply about the cause and about Spain. Martha was brave and despite bombings of buildings regularly, both continued their work without complaint. Per Martha, “I think it was the only time in his life when he was not the most important thing there was. He really cared about the Republic and he cared about that war. I believe I never would’ve gotten hooked otherwise.”
As Martha secured her position in Hem’s life, Pauline suffered the loss. With several health issues afflicting her, it became clear that Hem was leaving and there was nothing she could do about it. Hem wrote a letter to Pauline’s mother in 1939 trying to explain the estrangement. Her family had been generous and accepting and it was painful. It also was painful for the boys. “When you were with my father, it was the Crusades. He was Richard the Lion-hearted, and my mother was the woman you left behind in the castle with the chastity belt.” One benefit though was that Patrick and Gigi (Gregory) started to spend summers and vacations with hem which created memories that were irreplaceable. Their half-brother Jack (John/Bumby) had been enjoying those times with his father since the Hadley divorce.
Martha developed a good relationship with the boys. She was loving to all three and they enjoyed her. She had a friendly relationship with Hadley as well.
Hem wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls while with Martha. He dedicated it to her. It was selling well and there were bids for the movie rights. He did pay Pauline alimony which he resented as she “didn’t need it.”
Martha found that her husband drank too much, didn’t bathe enough, and embellished his stories. Still she made an effort to be a good hostess, partner, mother, and appreciator of his cats.
As time passed and Martha pursued assignments in China and Europe, Hem felt rejected and their love declined. Hem began to rant and rail against Martha and to heap abuse on her. When they finally divorced, Martha was sad but relieved. No alimony for Martha. She went on to write and establish a successful career in her own right. She married in 1954 and divorced in 1963, living the balance of her life in London. She committed suicide at age 89 with a drug overdose after suffering from cancer and blind.
In a couple weeks, I’ll be giving away three copies of the Hemingway cookbook. It is actually pretty great. There are not only recipes of Hemingway meals but stories and anecdotes related to the novels, stories, and Hem’s life. I really like the cook book. (Details to follow on how to win).
Also, I’d love to have guest posters. If you are the third to guest post, you get one of the cook books. You laugh, but it’s really great. You can write about anything. Review Gellhorn and Hemingway. Talk about his impact on you. Tell us what you hate. did you like Midnight in Paris? Please share!
Did Hemingway have a favorite wife? Of course he did despite each wife having suited him at the time he married each.
Hemingway had four wives: Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Walsh. Of the four, three were from the St. Louis area. Only Mary was from elsewhere—Minnesota. Hadley was the great love of his life, in my opinion. Surely in retrospect, based on A Moveable Feast, she was.
Hadley and Hem were married on September 3, 1921 in Horton Bay, Michigan, and they spent their honeymoon at the family summer cottage, which featured significantly in Hemingway’s early short stories. Hemingway’s biographer, Jeffrey Meyers, noted in his biography that, “with Hadley, Hemingway achieved everything he had hoped for with Agnes: the love of a beautiful woman, a comfortable income, a life inEurope.” (Agnes was Agnes Von Kurowsky, his nurse in Italy who was the prototype for Catherine Barkley, the heroine of A Farewell to Arms). He called her Tatie or Hash.
While the Hemingways had little money as they headed to Paris, Hadley’s modest trust fund sustained them. They had a small apartment, as well as a rented studio for Hemingway’s work, plus an abundance of expatriot and European friends, most of whom were writers. Gertrude Stein’s salon was nearby and she was a mentor, although ultimately there was a falling out.
One of the great dramas of their marriage occurred in December, 1922, when Hadley was traveling alone to Geneva to meet Hemingway there (he was covering a peace conference), and Hadley lost a suitcase filled with Hemingway’s manuscripts. One can only speculate about what impact this ultimately had on his writing. At the time, he was devastated. As any writer knows, you can never recreate the first cut. However, scholars opine regularly about whether the loss enabled him to start from scratch and do a better job or whether it was an irreplaceable loss. Clearly, he did okay despite . . .
Still, Hadley was there at the beginning before he was the famous Ernest Hemingway. She was there during the ever-productive Paris years, which proved to be a touchstone gift that kept on giving. She funded his ability to write in Paris, enabling him to eventually at warp speed finish the first draft of The Sun Also Rises in six weeks.
To Hadley’s dismay and hurt, she never figured significantly as a character in any of Hemingway’s books, which did tend to be based on actual people in his life. The fictional memoir, The Paris Wife, paints Hadley as wounded that she was written out of The Sun Also Rises while starring Lady Brett Ashley, who’s based whole hog on Lady Duff Twysden.
Hadley settled into married life as a wife and mother, but trouble was not far away. She and Hem met the charming Pfeiffer sisters. Although initially Hemingway thought Jinny was the more attractive, it was the petite Pauline, a writer for Paris Vogue, who ultimately captured his attention. As Pauline played the role of loyal, jokey pal to both Ernest and Hadley, she set her cap for Hem and he fell hard.
Now it was Hadley’s turn to be devastated. Initially, she resisted a divorce but later agreed. Their son, John aka Jack aka Bumby, was about 4 years old at the time. Hadley graciously accepted Hemingway’s offers of the royalties fromThe Sun Also Rises as child support and alimony. At the time, she had no way of knowing whether those would amount to anything. As of that date, Hemingway’s writings had not created much money at all so for all Hadley knew, this new style of novel might do little in the way of sales.
Of course, the rest was history. Hadley and Hemingway divorced in January of 1927. The Sun Also Rises was published shortly before the final formal divorce. Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer in May of 1927. When The Sun Also Rises was made into a film, profits from the film also went to Hadley.
Hadley and Hemingway remained friendly throughout their lives.She and Hem didn’t socialize, but they were in touch regarding their son, Jack, who was known in the family as Bumby).
Hadley stayed on in France until 1934. Paul Mowrer was a foreign journalist for the Chicago Daily News. She’d known him since the spring of 1927. Mowrer was no light weight himself, having received the Pulitzer Prize as a foreign correspondent in 1929. Hadley and Paul married in London in 1933. The Mowrers ultimately moved to a suburb of Chicago.
After the divorce from Hemingway, Hadley saw Ernest only once again although they wrote to each other regularly. She and Paul Mowrer ran into him while vacationing inWyoming in Sept 1939. Hadley died on January 22, 1979 in Lakeland,Florida. She is the grandmother of Mariel and Margaux Hemingway, who are the children of Jack/Bumby.
Did Hem have a favorite wife? Hell, yes. Her name was Hadley.
“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.”
Ernest Hemingway,The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Pauline Pfeiffer was Hem’s second wife. She was petite, lively, chic, and in love. Since equality in a relationship was not his thing, Pauline seemed to know intuitively that she would have to defer an awful lot of the time to his dreams and wishes. That deference came naturally to Hadley, less naturally to Pauline, and not at all to Martha.
Once Hadley allowed the divorce to take place, Hem seemed less eager to seal the deal with Pauline although he ultimately adjusted and set a date. He wrote to Isabelle Godolphin that “I’m cockeyed about Pauline and going to get married in May . . . I felt like hell before, but now everything is very very good and everyone is feeling swell.”
Hem even became a Catholic for Pauline, who was a true believer. As for Hadley, she went back to New York temporarily, dated various men (and ultimately married journalist Paul Mowrer), and had a cordial meeting with Max Perkins, Hem’s editor. Max had arranged for the direct deposit of royalties from The Sun Also Rises to Hadley’s account. She received them for her life.
Pauline and Hem were married on May 10, 1927 in Paris. In fairly short order, Hadley’s bitterness faded and she became quite friendly with Pauline due to their shared interest in Bumby’s welfare, as well as Ernest’s welfare. Pauline did her best to keep up with Hem, letting him be him, going to Africa, and
finally settling in Key West, a place that Dos Passos drew Hem to, noting its climate, its fishing, and its undiscovered beauty.
Hem needed little more persuading. He and Pauline found a house on Whitehead Street. Jack aka Bumby had a nice relationship with Pauline, who treated him like one of her own boys. She did in fact have two sons with Hem: Patrick and Gregory. Hem by all accounts loved all of his sons (although with Gregory known as Gigi, there was estrangement when he was an adult), and they adored Papa. Being with him was enchanting and he had an air of excitement. Hem said that while not partial to kids, he rather liked these three.
As years passed Pauline and Ernest became cooler to each other. Hem spent time with Jane Mason, wife of Grant Mason, and an affair seems clear. Jane was a flashy, blonde, risk-taker, and not emotionally stable. She later jumped from a balcony. Whether Jane did so purposely or accidentally, is not clear but most believe it was a suicide attempt. Jane survived. Hemingway, per Bernice Kert, author of a wonderful and fascinating book about all of Hemingway’s women (and aptly called The Hemingway Women) avoided emotionally unstable woman. This seems true as Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary were all strong, intelligent, stable women. Even his closest women friends such as Marlene Dietrich were women with good heads on their shoulders.
Kert in her book, page 262, cites a story about Hem and Dietrich meeting. She notes that on his way back to NY from Paris on the Ile de France, Dietrich recalled, “I entered the dining salon to attend a dinner party. The men rose to offer me a chair, but I saw at once that I would make the thirteenth at the table. I excused myself on grounds of superstition, when my way was blocked by a large man who said he gladly would be the fourteenth. The man was Hemingway.” This is what Pauline was up against.
Ultimately, Hem left Pauline for a younger flashier model: Martha Gellhorn. He doesn’t seem to have had the sentimental look back at Pauline that he had at Hadley although he does praise her spirit in going to Africa with him, even though it meant leaving their sons for a significant period of time.
Pointedly, A Farewell to Armswas is dedicated to Uncle Gus, Pauline’s uncle, not to Pauline.
When he left, a great deal of Hem was left in Key West as he moved on to his next home in Cuba with Martha and on to write one of the greatest novels ever written: For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Ernest Hemingway, fresh off his marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first wife, arrived in Paris in 1921. Paris was a playground for writers and artists, offering respite from the radical politics spreading across Europe. Sherwood Anderson supplied Hemingway with a letter of introduction to Ezra Pound. The two litterateurs met at Sylvia Beach’s bookshop and struck up a friendship that would shape the world of letters.
They frolicked the streets of Paris as bohemians, joined by rambunctious and disillusioned painters, aesthetes, druggies, and drinkers. They smoked opium, inhabited salons, and delighted in casual soirées, fine champagnes, expensive caviars, and robust conversations about art, literature, and the avant-garde. Pound was, through 1923, exuberant, having fallen for Olga Rudge, his soon-to-be mistress, a young concert violinist with firm breasts, shapely curves, midnight hair, and long eyebrows and eyelashes. She exuded a kind of mystical sensuality unique among eccentric highbrow musicians; Pound found her irresistible.
Pound was known for his loyalty to friends. Although he had many companions besides Hemingway—among them William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, e.e. cummings, Pablo Picasso, Wyndham Lewis, T.E. Hulme, William Carlos Williams, Walter Morse Rummel, Ford Madox Ford, Jean Cocteau, and Malcolm Cowley—Hemingway arguably did more than the others to reciprocate Pound’s favors, at least during the Paris years when he promoted Pound as Pound promoted others.
Pound edited Hemingway’s work, stripping his prose of excessive adjectives. Hemingway remarked that Pound had taught him “to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations.”
Pound, however, grew disillusioned with Paris, where his friends were gravitating toward socialism and communism. Paris, he decided, was not good for his waning health. Hemingway himself had been in and out of Paris, settling for a short time in Toronto. In 1923, accompanied by their wives, Pound and Hemingway undertook a walking tour of Italy. The fond memories of this rejuvenating getaway inspired Pound to return to Italy with his wife Dorothy Shakespear in 1924. They relocated, in 1925, to a picturesque hotel in Rapallo, a beautiful sea town in the province of Genoa.
The move to Italy also effectively terminated Pound’s glory years in Paris, about which Hemingway wrote affectionately:
More than anything else, Italian politics—and the rise of fascism—damaged Hemingway’s regard for Pound, who became a zealous supporter of Mussolini and a reckless trafficker in conspiracy theories.
Hemingway offered Pound some money, sensing that money was needed, but Pound declined it.
The falling out was no secret, and other writers took sides. William Carlos Williams wrote to Pound in 1938, saying, “It is you, not Hemingway, in this case who is playing directly into the hands of the International Bankers.”
Archibald MacLeish helped to orchestrate Pound’s release from St. Elizabeth’s, (A mental asylum Pound had been committed to. See below as to how he got there.) drafting a letter to the government on Pound’s behalf that included Hemingway’s signature, along with those of Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot. A year later Hemingway provided a statement of support for Pound to be used in a court hearing regarding the dismissal of an indictment against Pound.
Hemingway awoke on the morning of July 2, 1961, put a 12-gauge, double-barreled shotgun to his head, and, alone in the foyer of his home, blew his brains out. He was 61. Pound’s friends and family didn’t tell him about Hemingway’s death, but a careless nurse did, and Pound reacted hysterically. The older of the two, Pound, at 72, was free from St. Elizabeth’s, where he’d spent 12 solemn years. He had returned to his beloved Italy to finish out his long and full life. In the autumn of 1972, he died peacefully in his sleep in Venice, the day after his birthday, which he’d spent in the company of friends.
Allen Mendenhall is an associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.
ME here: I may have over-edited re: how Ezra ended up in a psych facility. Ezra Pound was closely aligned with the Fascists in Italy. He was later imprisoned in Pisa by the liberating American forces in 1945 on charges of treason. In Pisa, he purportedly was placed in a small 6 x 6 cell and had a mental breakdown. He was ultimately sent to St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C. for 12 years. Friends including Hemingway sent money and petitions for his release which finally happened. While most acknowledged that he was a bit “crazy,” most felt he was far from any sort of danger to anyone including to his country. Once released he returned to Italy and died in Venice eleven years after Hemingway’s death. Christine
No one defined masculinity more thoroughly than Ernest Hemingway, particularly in his best years, i.e. the 30’s and 40’s. I just read a review of a new book out by Lesley M. M. Blume, called “Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises.”
I always liked that quote from The Sun Also Rises. Maybe it’s just cynicism, but I prefer to think that it’s realism. The end of that quote is “Everyone behaves badly—given the chance.”
In addition to discussing the real life people upon whom the characters in the book are based, Ms. Blume’s book discusses the issue of sexuality in “The Sun Also Rises” as well as in Hemingway’s posthumously published 1986 novel, The Garden of Eden with its gender-bending main characters well ahead of their time. Hemingway was “one of the last authors to be a celebrity in his own right, back when ‘manly’ was a good thing.
Lesley Blume with Valerie Hemingway
The book attempts to answer the question of whether Hemingway’s persona of hyper-masculinity was real or fake and notes that “we haven’t solved the problem of how to be a man in the modern age and Hemingway was a caricature of the last generation’s attempt to do so, as Donald Trump may be of ours.” We no longer admire—thank God and for good reason—killing large animals in Africa or watching them die in bull fights. The concept of masculinity is complex and evolving.
Parenthetically, I highly recommend watching the documentary called The True Gen. It’s about Hemingway’s friendship with Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper apparently was always a gentlemen and Hemingway…wasn’t always restrained. Yet, somehow they had an extremely strong friendship that lasted for a lifetime—which was a rarity for Hemingway—with Cooper at times forcing Hemingway to stop with the image and be real. Despite personalities that were almost polar opposites, both worked hard, were more sensitive that you might suspect, and hid parts of themselves for the image each wanted to project. It worked for them. The movie is a gem and is well worth watching.I found it extremely touching. Cooper and Hemingway died 6 weeks apart: Cooper of cancer and shortly thereafter, Hemingway killed himself.
So the book by Lesley Blume sounds valuable and additive to Hemingway analysis. She knows the period well and I expect the book will ring true and be a load of fun to read.
Mary was Hemingway’s fourth wife and his widow. She took a fair amount of abuse. I was never certain if she truly loved him that much or if she loved being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway that much. She survived his infatuation with Adriana Ivancich, his bad behavior and heavy drinking that was the precursor to that bad behavior and she helped as ill health hit both of them, but particularly Hemingway.
Hemingway seemed to like all sorts of women but the kind that he married was level headed and smart. He never left Pauline for Jane Kendall Mason, beautiful though she was, as she was emotionally unstable. Hadley, Pauline, Martha, and Mary were all stable, intelligent women. All but Hadley were journalists in their own right. All but Martha were very deferential to Hemingway and perhaps that’s why he always said that was the one marriage he regretted.
Anyway, Mary is being honored in her hometown in MN. All of the other three wives strangely were from St. Louis.
Just when you think everything that can possibly be written about Hemingway or his life or his writing has been done, another level of knowledge is uncovered.
The third volume of Hemingway’s letters, which covers the period 1926 to 1929, has been published. Those were truly wonderful years. He wrote The Sun Also Rises in about six weeks—at least for the first draft—in 1926. It was published in 1927. These letters cover correspondence with some of the literary luminaries of the day as well as cover a very rich and turbulent period for Hemingway.
We are all familiar with the spare prose and tight structure of his writing. Consequently, his letters are surprisingly rambling and fun. He writes very honestly about his divorce from his first wife, Hadley, and of the pain of falling in love with a woman who became their mutual friend, Vogue journalist Pauline Pfeiffer. He also wrote of the drama of the birth of his first son, Patrick, by cesarean section during which Pauline almost died. It also was at this period of time that he relocated to Key West and completed his second book Men Without Women.
While Hemingway aficionados are familiar with his dislike of his mother throughout his life, it may be less well known that he was very fond of his father who killed himself. In the letter to Pauline’s mother following his father’s suicide, he wrote, “I was awfully fond of my father—and still feel very badly about it all and not able to get it out of my mind and my book into my mind.”
Seventy percent of the letters have never been published before. They reveal a side to Hemingway that has had very little exposure: his intense drive to be the best writer out there, his insecurities, his enjoyment of a little gossip. He wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald asking him to write “all the dirt.”
It also seems clear that the culminating event in A Farewell to Arms, i.e. Catherine’s death during childbirth—is based in large part on Pauline’s difficulties. At the end of A Farewell to Arms when the nurse asks Frederic Henry if he’s proud of his newborn son, Frederic’s response is almost verbatim from a Hemingway letter in which he replied, “No, he nearly killed his mother.”
Hemingway had always asked that his letters never be published, but his fourth wife Mary agreed to the publication of some and I’m not familiar enough with the details of the estate to know exactly how these came to be published.
Read the letters and enjoy. Also, if you’re in New York catch the exhibit that’s at the Morgan Library. You won’t regret it. Love, Christine