This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Ernest Hemingway’s birth house and the Hemingway Museum in Oak Park, Illinois. It was an honor to be able to learn more about the life of one of the greats, who influenced literature with his courage to be different.
A few fascinating things I learned:
- Hemingway’s father was a doctor and his mother a former opera singer. Because of this, he grew up with a passion for both science and the arts, and many believe his dedication to both made his writing stronger.
- Hemingway never went to college and instead studied other writers, painters, and musicians. He once said that he could replicate a Cézanne painting exactly, with words.
- Some believe that had Hemingway gone to college, he would have written in the Victorian-style of the time and would never have made the contributions to literature that he did.
- Most of Hemingway’s stories were based on his own life. A Farewell to Arms mirrored his own betrothal to his WWI nurse. The letter she wrote him to break things off is pictured below. Some interesting lines to note: “I am now + always will be too old”, “I somehow feel that one day I’ll have reason to be proud of you.”
Some of my favorite quotes from the museum exhibits:
And for those who might need some inspiration, here is a rejection letter Hemingway received from a publisher—one of many.
Some examples of Hemingway’s edits to earlier drafts:
And finally, some photos of his birth house:
The family library, also known as his father’s room to smoke and drink unseen.
The lights that face down were powered by electricity (and some believe Hemingway’s house was the first in the area to have electricity). The lights facing up were powered by gas, to be turned on in case of a power outage.
As a supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, I leave you with this: