Thursday, March 29, 2012

When Hemingway Killed His Cat: Previously Unpublished Ernest Hemingway Letters Released

Martine Powers at the Boston Globe reports that the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum announced that it had aquired 15 previously unpublished letters written by the late great writer Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway wrote the letters, which were purchased by the library in November, between 1953 and 1960. They shed light on the Nobel Prize-winning author’s life in Cuba and his travels to Tanzania, Kenya, France, Spain, and Idaho.

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In one of the newly released letters, Hemingway wrote of having to put down his cat.

David Haglund at writes about the cat and Hemingway's image.

While the popular myth of Papa Hemingway surrounds the writer with lions and other big game, smaller felines played a larger role in the writer’s later life. By 1945, he had 23 cats, who were “treated as royalty,” according to "Hemingway’s Cats," which was published in 2006. Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary called the cats “purr factories” and “love sponges.” The descendants of those cats continue to live at the old Hemingway house (a fence was erected for them after a neighbor’s complaint led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Because many of Hemingway’s cats were of the six-toed variety, “Hemingway cat” has become a colloquial term for polydactyl felines. Cats also show up in Hemingway’s fiction, most notably, perhaps, in “Cat in the Rain,” from In Our Time.

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