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.
I just finished a book about the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald called “Z.” It was interesting. Zelda’s hatred for Hemingway came across loud and clear. I know that it’s historically true. However, there’s a claim that Hemingway came on to her, which didn’t strike me as true based on all that I’ve read and Hem’s feelings toward/against her. And there’s another portion in which she wonders if her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway were closet homosexuals who had an attraction to each other. I don’t know that much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but there’s not anything in the volumes that I’ve read about Hemingway and his past that would even slightly suggest that. I’ve read all of the hypotheses that Hemingway went ultra-macho to compensate for homosexual feelings. I don’t see that but everyone can have an opinion. Those comments aside, I found that I had sympathy for Zelda’s plight and her frustration in her life with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I also couldn’t help comparing Fitzgerald, of course, to Hemingway. When Hemingway met Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald was the star, having come off of a great success with The Beautiful and Damned. His short stories were successfully being sold and some were going to Hollywood. F. Scott Fitzgerald was generous with his time and advice to Hemingway and they remained really close friends for a long time before something of quiet falling out occurred, probably due to normal as opposed to cut-throat literary rivalry and partly due to Hemingway’s disgust with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking and Zelda. Whatever else you can say about Hemingway and his later serious problems with the bottle, for much of his career, he was disciplined when it came to writing. He often stopped drinking for some significant periods of time while writing and he didn’t drink during the day while he was getting his words down on paper. Fitzgerald began to drink daily from morning on and for many years, didn’t even try to write. Once Hemingway began to abuse alcohol, it was not good.
Hem and Fitzgerald shared the editor Max Perkins at Scribners. After their falling out, they used Max to find out about each other. There was attachment between them. Hemingway was so competitive that he had trouble being friends with writing rivals. he was both confidant and insecure.
I also gathered from “Z” that the ragefulness between Zelda and Fitzgerald went on for years and they both treated each other badly. It was a sort of recreational warfare. That behavior certainly didn’t occur between Hemingway and Hadley. I think there was some bitterness in his fighting with Pauline (second wife) in the end, but not the low blows Zelda and Scott hurled. Hemingway generally felt guilty at the end of a relationship and didn’t rant and rave at his soon to be ex-wife.
His relationship with Martha (third wife) was an exception because it did become volatile. Certainly there was anger and insults with Mary (fourth wife) and they might have divorced had Hem lived longer. With the exception of Martha, Hem’s other three wives didn’t try to compete with him and perhaps that was what he was looking for in a woman. All gave up a great deal of independence to be with him. He tended to prefer stable, smart, but non-challenging women–and Martha was not any part of the latter. Further, he was married four times, whereas Fitzgerald and Zelda were only married once, although affairs did occur in the marriage.
I liked the book and I felt for Zelda, which I didn’t expect. It was interesting to read another perspective on the jazz age, and the whole lost generation crowd in Paris, including the Murphys, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, Picasso.
You might try it. It’s an easy read and Hemingway features prominently.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Everyone’s commented on it: Hemingway’s preoccupation with women’s hair. Hemingway’s mother, Grace, whom he purported to hate, had auburn hair that was her pride and joy. She wore it often in the Gibson girl style of the day and was quite proud of it. In almost every work of fiction that Hemingway has written–and nonfiction if you want to count A Moveable Feast–the time spent on the description of any of the main woman’s character’s hair is significant.
Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises had short, swept back hair. She wears it cut “short like a man.” Catherine Barclay had soft hair and “wonderfully beautiful hair. “I would lie sometimes watching her twist it up in the in the light that came in the open door and it shone even in the night as water shines sometimes just before it is really daylight.” From A Farewell to Arms.
Maria, whom Robert Jordan called the rabbit because of her short-cropped hair cut off by the Fascists who gagged her with her own braids which was growing out, had hair the “color of wheat.” See above, Ingrid Bergman as Maria. Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan. In The Garden of Eden, the wife cuts her hair to match her husband’s and they both are attracted to the same woman. The Garden of Eden, however, was published posthumously and as I’ve noted in earlier posts, I don’t think the same standards can be applied to something published after the author’s death since clearly he hadn’t felt it was ready to be published at the time of his death. A huge editing may have in the offing.
In his actual life, Hadley had lovely red hair. Shortly after their marriage she cut it short. It’s not clear whether she did so to please Hemingway or just for ease of care after she had Bumby. Hemingway seems to be one of the few men who prefer women with short hair.
Pauline had a boyishly short pixie cut. She had very dark hair and it was quite stylish on her. Hemingway liked it. At one point during their marriage, when he was clearly attracted to Jane Mason, a socialite and a stunning, legendary strawberry blond, Pauline dyed her hair blond and arrived home with this completely new look. There is no record of whether Hemingway liked it or reacted to it but she didn’t keep it blond for very long.
Martha had swinging long, blond hair when Hem met her which at times was shorter. had short, swept back curly blond hair that framed her face.
From their first meeting, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein were simpatico. They did have a falling out several years later and despite the fact that Gertrude Stein clearly was living in a lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas, he maintained that there was a true animal attraction and that at least from his end he would have liked to have consummated the relationship had the situation been different. He describes Gertrude as having lovely dark immigrant hair and the sentiment is one of admiration. Her hair also was short and swept back at times, a style Hem favored, and at other times, longer and pinned up.
Scholars have pondered for years about whether this preoccupation came from the fact that Hemingway’s mother dressed him in girl’s clothes from a young age. She often represented to outsiders that he and his sister, Marcelline, were twins (they were about a year apart) and Grace maintained his hair at a feminine length.. On occasion she called him Ernestine until he was about 6-years old. At that point he rebelled and demanded a hair cut and boy’s clothes as well as to be called by his real name. We can get psychological about the implications .
While too much can be made of this element of Hemingway’s writing, it is something to think about and it is an interesting theme that runs through the novels in particular.
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.
The one thing I know is that a woman should never marry a man who hated his mother. Martha Gellhorn.
I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway Misogynist (Definition) – noun, jargon. A male heterosexual individual whose misogynistic beliefs are seen predominantly when he is in a relationship with a strong, independent female who is, most likely, smarter than him. The Hemingway Misogynist is capable of having powerful lifelong friendship bonds with a few strong, independent women smarter than him, but only if he never enters into a sexual relationship with them. He will often say and believe hateful things about women in general, citing his own female friends as individual exceptions. Don’t sleep with this dude, because he will leave tire marks on your lawn when you publish your dissertation to rave critical reviews.Hemingway misogynists, Hemingway cats. Andrea Grimes
Hmm. May I protest?? Pauline, Martha, and Mary were all smart strong women. And Hadley was no dope. And he seems to have slept with all of his wives. Pauline and Mary did tend to defer to Hem but I’d say he liked that both were smart. Martha did challenge him and he did like his wives to be home with life revolving around him. However, I never saw him as disliking women. He just liked his life the way he liked it.
If we look at his literary women, what can we see? Brett, from The Sun Also Rises was smart and strong although troubled. Jake presumably slept with Brett before his injury. Catherine, from A Farewell to Arms, was a career woman before her time and she drove a good amount of that relationship. Maria, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, was young but strong. Pilar was a mountain of a woman, brave, and a hero in my book. Not one was a wimp or simpering girly-girl who just wanted to be dominated. Falling in love is not the same as wanting to be subservient.
Yup, there were many manipulative bitchy women in the short stories and novellas but many of the men were no prizes either. Helen in the Snows of Kilimanjaro and Margo in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber were wealthy, entitled, and limited. Still Harry in The Snows freely admitted his weaknesses and Helen’s efforts to help him as a writer. When honest, he admitted it was he who chose to be seduced by the easy life more than it was Helen forcing his hand. Margo was not easy in her condescending way but Francis was without backbone until the tragic end.
Hemingway was attracted to women with spirit: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Mason, Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein, Adriana. All had opinions, attitude, and grace. Yes, Hem hated his mother but he didn’t hate women-kind. In fact, there is ample evidence that he enjoyed women quite a bit not just as lovers but as friends and sounding boards. But, hey, who knows? what do you think?
Ernest Hemingway, the legendary author and tortured Nobel laureate, is known for works like “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and The Sea.”
His image was that of a bold adventurer and world traveler. He was an avid big game hunter, often posing next to his prey in pictures.
There’s another — and perhaps more relatable — side to the legendary author, though. It’s one of an awkward teenage suitor trying desperately to impress a girl who captured his high school heart.
Her name was Frances Elizabeth Coates. She sang opera and went to the same Oak Park, Illinois high school Hemingway attended. He played cello at the time and was enamored by Coates and her love of art.
Coates’ granddaughter, Betsy Fermano, lives in Marblehead, Mass. She kept Hemingway’s letters to her grandmother since Coates’ death in 1988. She seals the letters in a quart-sized plastic bag and was keeping them in a trunk. She only recently started dropping them off in a vault at a nearby bank when she learned they could be of value. They’re slightly yellowed but in surprisingly good condition for papers that are essentially a century old.
“I remember my grandmother telling me about these letters, and she was very embarrassed to talk about her relationship with Ernest Hemingway — or Ernie as she always called him,” says the retired fundraising and development executive. “Because they were really close friends … and I guess Ernie wasn’t with, so I’ve heard, a lot of women, and he was really close to my grandmother, to Frances, and they spent a lot of time together.”
Elder (A Hemingway Scholar) says the preservation of Hemingway’s letters is remarkable.
“Letters from that era — from 1918, 1919 — outside the family are extremely rare,” he explained. “It’s just his voice. He is just sort of free and flirtatious with her because he’s not writing to family.”
A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
In the letters, a young Hemingway writes from Milan, Italy during World War I. We asked Fermano to read one of the letters Hemingway wrote from his hospital bed there in 1918 as he recovers from injuries suffered while volunteering as a wartime ambulance driver. He wrote:
“Dear Frances, you see, I can’t break the old habit of writing you whenever I get a million miles away from Oak Park. Milan is so hot that the proverbial hinges of hell would be like the beads of ice on the outside of a glass of Clicquot Club by comparison. However, it has a cathedral and a dead man, Leonardi Da Vinci and some very good-looking girls, and the best beer in the Allied countries.”
Elder said Hemingway seems to be “trying to make [Frances] jealous. He’s trying to say, ‘look at all these beautiful women around me,’ and then he’s bragging about trying beer, which would’ve been sort of the ultimate sign of rebellion, because he grew up in Oak Park, which was a town sort of founded on the temperance movement and was a dry town.”
Was Coates Hemingway’s First True Love?
“Given some of the evidence here, I think Frances Coates cared for him, but he was squarely what we call in the ‘Friend Zone,’ so if it was his first love, it was very one-sided,” explains Elder.
It was, it appears, unrequited love, then. In fact, in a letter that Francis Coates wrote to a Hemingway biographer, she described her once close friend as awkward and sensitive.
Coates went on to marry a classmate named John Grace, a future railroad executive. But Elder says apparently Hemingway, who pined over Coates as teenager, never forgot Coates — and maybe never got over her because, in fact, her name appears as a character in some of his now classic novels.
“Hemingway was good at holding grudges, and this is not really a grudge, but she is certainly someone he never forgot,” Elder says.
Hemingway apparently references Frances as a character when he’s talking about her husband, in which he writes in his novel, “To Have and Have Not”:
“He’s probably a little too good for Frances, but it will be years before Frances realizes this. Perhaps she will never realize it with luck. [This type of man] is rarely also tapped for bed. But with a lovely girl like Frances, intention counts as much as performance.”
Woo! Elder says “whether or not that was directed at [Coates], Frances definitely saw herself in that — she wrote about it, calling it a wry scene.”
Coates didn’t forget Hemingway either.
She kept his high school portrait in a gold frame in her drawer, and all of the pictures he sent her in a small envelope. Some of those are now in Marblehead as well.
So, did Francis Coates ever regret letting go of the young writer she called Ernie who later became a larger-than-life author — but who also went on to four marriages and three divorces?
Well, a little scribble on the back of an envelope may help answer that question.
“Oh, this is what she says on this envelope, ‘Ernie’s pictures. And 25 years later, ooh! Am I glad I married John!’ ” Fermano reads, laughing.
Hemingway often took younger women under his wing and wanted them around. Sometimes it was intellectually stimulating. Sometimes there was an attraction. Sometimes they amused him. Sometimes he just liked them. He had many women as friends: Marlene Dietrich, Slim Hawkes, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall. He was infatuated with many: Adriana Ivancich is of great note.
Valerie Danby-Smith was initially providing secretarial services to Hemingway. She was part of the entourage of his trip to Spain in 1959 and by the end of the trip, Hemingway wanted her to continue on. Was he romantically attracted? Probably. Valerie asserts that he begged her to continue on to Cuba as he needed her with him. She was 19 at the time; he was 59.. I also think he simply liked her cheerful ways and good nature.
She has written a book about her time with him and is now leading tours in Paris to the old Hemingway haunts. .
Did I mention that she married Hemingway’s son, Gregory? Yes, she did. They met through the Hemingway connection and had four children together. and while their marriage ended in divorce, she appears to have maintained a good relationship with Gregory until his death. She wrote “Running with the Bulls” about her time with Hemingway.
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.