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Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Giveaway



Entrance of Hemingway House in Key West
Entrance to Hemingway House in Key West

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.  

At Entrance to House

Exterior of Hemingway HouseFor 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.

A first edition of To Have and Have Not!
A first edition of To Have and Have Not!

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…

DSCN0013At 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.

Backside of the Main House
Backside of the Main House

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.

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Outside Hemingway's Studio
Outside Hemingway’s Studio

Hospital WW1 PhotoAs 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.

A lot.

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!



23 comments on “Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Giveaway

  1. So excited for you, Negar! You will love it! My first RWA National Conference was in 2011, also in NYC. No better place for your first venue. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to say hi should we run into each other in July!!

  2. So, you think Hemingway was looking over your shoulder? 😉
    I have always wanted to visit Key West. I love the ocean!

    1. That thought crossed my mind, Angie, but then again, I’m a writer with a huge imagination. 😉

      If you’re going to visit KW, I’d suggest a warmer month to take advantage of all the ocean has to offer. February waters are chilly, even in KW, and quite choppy. I usually visit there in the summer (with tropically hot temps) or October before the Fantasy Fest craziness and am able to go kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, and flats fishing. I hope you make it there one day…so beautiful.

  3. My 4th novel was on Hemingway, Key West and Cuba. It will be out later this year. I visited his Key West home in 2010. They let me come back and visit his home for free, the 2nd time I came by that day!
    P.S. After that visit, I had his autograph tattooed on my forearm!

    1. Congratulations on your fourth upcoming novel, Dan. I’m assuming it’s historical fiction, yes? I’ll be on the look-out for it. Would love to see a photo of your forearm tat, too. Now that’s a true fan. Good for you! 🙂

      1. Thanks for showing me the tattoo, Dan. For anyone else interested, go to my Author Page on Facebook and check out the cool photo. 🙂

  4. I love the tour, I’d love to visit there one day. I am looking forward to spring very much and getting out into nature again

    1. So happy you enjoyed the post, Shannon! Key West has so much to offer, for a variety of interests. I love its water sports, nature, bars, restaurants, live music, beaches…

      Obviously, I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, Key West is a great getaway. Here’s to Springtime! 🙂

  5. Thanks for a great tour, Jolyse! This brought back so many wonderful memories. I visited the museum while in college.
    I don’t know why I’m not receiving your posts…ugh!
    I’ve only read eighteen books so far this year…I’m behind!

    1. Eighteen books?! You have me beaten by a long shot, Jill. Have you been missing the posts since the changeover to the new website? If so, I’ll check with my design team and ask if they can fix that.

      Keep reading and writing and have a super weekend! 🙂

      1. Yes, since you made the change to your lovely new website, I’m not receiving any blog posts.
        Have a great weekend too, Jolyse. We’re getting closer to sandal season. 🙂

  6. Hoping that in the near future we can take the tour together … looks like a great place to soak in the vibes …

  7. I’ve been wanting to visit Key West for years….thanks for this little sneak peek into the area and Hemingway’s home. I definitely think he was there!

    1. You’re very welcome, Cheryl. I definitely felt a presence but was overwhelmed by the thought it may actually be him. You know? Still, it was an intriguing experience.

      Good luck in the giveaway contest! 🙂

  8. I would love to visit Key West (went to the Keys once but did not make it all the way to Key West because of a Hurricane in October that stopped the vacation on like Wednesday or Thursday — I have lived in Florida all my life and that was my first and last trip to the Keys so far) and see The Hemingway House. I would love to see the cats just because it would somewhat remind me of a cat that I had, she was a front footed polydactyl (mitten feet).

    1. Hi Amanda! Oh, that’s too bad that you didn’t make it down to Key West. I can imagine your disappointment, but hope that my little tours (there will be three more) about the house will help you get by until the dream of visiting becomes a reality. There are also a bunch of other Key West posts here if you’re interested. Just type Key West in the search bar.

      Good luck on the Amazon gift card giveaway!!

  9. Thank you so much for this wonderful tour, Jolyse! I would love to visit Key West and will take your advice and go when its a little warmer. Would love to show my family this beautiful place. I am anxious to read your books!

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! My romantic suspense/magic short novel will be available this fall, and my second contemporary romance set in upstate NY where I was raised just released this week.

    You may wish to sign up for my infrequent, spam-free newsletter so you receive news of new releases directly in your inbox.

    If you go to Key West, I’d love to hear about your adventures. 🙂

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