Welcome to the first of four installments about Ernest Hemingway and his legendary life at the Key West property where he resided from 1931-1940. Today’s post introduces the American author’s tropical home and work space.
For nine years, Ernest Hemingway lived in the large Spanish-style house located on Whitehead Street (shown above), with his second wife, Pauline, and their two sons. This relatively short period of the famous author’s life was also his most prolific and successful in literary terms, the home where he wrote To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many acclaimed short stories such as Snows of Kilimanjaro.
The main house (which I’ll post about next week) was transformed into a museum after Bernice Dickson purchased the estate from Hemingway’s descendants. Inside are a plethora of photos, pieces of art, furniture, and books. Lots and lots of books. My favorites, of course, were first editions written by the home’s famous former occupant. A tingle zipped down my spine when I spied a hardcover copy of Hemingway’s book, To Have and Have Not, which plays a major role in one of my yet-to-be-published Key West-based romantic suspense novels, in a story of my heart I call One More Sunset.
But I digress…
At thirty two years old, Hemingway was in his prime when he moved into the house built eighty years earlier by merchant seaman, Asa Tift. While Pauline took care of the boys, Ernest spent many hours each day drafting and revising before frequenting his favorite haunts, fishing, or otherwise carousing about town. By all accounts, he was a man’s man who lived by the motto, “Work hard, play harder.”
The property’s hayloft section of the property’s carriage house was converted into a bright and airy writing studio for Ernest, complete with lavatory. Today, a cluster of tropical bamboo stands where an elevated walkway once connected the second-story of the main house to his work space.
As we stepped outside from the main house to climb the stairs of the studio, I imagined the famous writer entering his studio and wondered what he would think of all these tourists invading his space. The answer, “I like it and I don’t” entered my thoughts. A contradictory sentiment, but perhaps one that would be felt by a man reported to have suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and seemed, in my estimation according to his life choices, to both crave and abhor his celebrity in equal measures.
As shared in biographies and interviews with the author that I’ve read, Hemingway often wrote while standing to alleviate back problems related to his war injuries sustained during his service in WWI, however the studio’s present layout belies that research.
As I turned to leave, mulling over all I’d seen and heard during the tour’s first half, I sensed a man standing close behind me. Assuming it was another tourist, I encouraged my husband to take a quick picture so I could move out of the way. Turns out, no one was directly behind me. Was it my writer’s imagination, or something else?
Next week, join me as we explore the main house, including details about the estate’s famed six-toed residents.
Love of Literacy Giveaway…
I don’t know about you, but this winter in the Northeast US has been long, cold, and dreary. Whenever I wasn’t at the day job, working on writing projects, or busy with the family, I was reading.
I read a grand total of ten books in the two months…all terrific experiences. To celebrate the wonderful world of literacy with you, one lucky reader will win a $20 Amazon gift card!The winner will be announced next Monday, March 16th. All you have to do to be eligible is be at least 18 years old and leave a comment below. You can share anything you love about books, the romance genre in particular, or how you feel about the arrival of a new season. Good luck and have a super week!