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JFK Library hosts exhibit on the life and writings of Hemingway

EH6914P             ca. 1934

Ben Fourie, Charles Thompson, Philip Percival and Ernest Hemingway pose with three antelope skulls and one antelope skull while on safari at Keijunga Camp, Tanganyika

Please credit: "Photographer Unknown. Ernest Hemingway Papers. Photograph Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston."

Photo: Ben Fourie, Charles Thompson (obscured), Philip Percival and Ernest Hemingway at the end of the kudu hunt (from l to r) 1933 / 34. Photos courtesy of JFK Library





Hemingway fans have an opportunity to get up close and personal at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (JFK) exhibit, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars, which showcases the library’s Hemingway Collection.

According to the Kennedy Library, this is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the work and life of Ernest Hemingway. The exhibit features a trove of rarely exhibited material, including multiple drafts of the writer’s major works, correspondence with a legendary circle of expatriate writers living in 1920s Paris, as well as photographs and a selection of Hemingway’s personal belongings.

Created in partnership with the Morgan Library & Museum, the exhibition humanizes a man who was larger than life and documents the consummate craftsmanship and discipline at the heart of Hemingway’s literary genius.

Critically acclaimed during its three-month run at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars is being featured at the JFK library through the end of the year.

EH-C6143D n.d. 1923 Ernest Hemingway's passport photo.

Ernest Hemingway’s passport photo from Dec, 1923

“The Ernest Hemingway Collection is one of the Kennedy Library’s great treasures,” said Stacey Bredhoff, JFK library museum curator. “The original materials displayed in this exhibition reveal the fearless and relentless pursuit of the truth that drove Hemingway as a writer. Setting out to bring an actual life experience to the reader, Hemingway originated a style of writing that transformed American literature in the 20th century, and continues to inspire generations of writers around the world. The Kennedy Library has collaborated with the Morgan Library in creating this exhibition; following a successful run in New York, we are thrilled to bring it home and present it to our Boston audience.”

Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum, said, “It is impossible to talk about the history of 20th-century American literature — or world literature for that matter — without talking about Ernest Hemingway early in the conversation. His novels such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls are among the best-known and acclaimed books of the modern era. His style of writing — spare, raw, direct — turned literature on its head.”

Exhibit Highlights


A letter Hemingway wrote to his father

✔ A letter by Hemingway written to his father in which he set out his artistic credo, saying “You see I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across — not to just depict life — or criticize it — but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me, you’ve actually experienced the thing.”

✔ Signed letters from notable luminaries such as Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

✔ Hemingway’s first published short story, The Judgment of Manitou, featured in The Tabula, his high school literary magazine.

✔ Original draft of the first Nick Adams story written on American Red Cross Hospital stationary while Hemingway was convalescing in Milan after being wounded in World War I.

✔ Hemingway’s first published book, Three Stories & Ten Poems, published in 1923.

✔ Three of the notebooks in which Hemingway wrote the first draft of The Sun Also Rises.

✔ The first two pages of the original manuscript draft of A Farewell to Arms.

Farewell to Arms autograph manuscript

Farewell to Arms autographed manuscript

✔ Manuscript page of the ending to A Farewell to Arms, which Hemingway wrote and re-wrote in some 47 versions; a selection of the alternative endings will be displayed.

✔ A list of potential titles for one of Hemingway’s most popular short stories: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomb. Among those under consideration were: Marriage is a Dangerous game, A Marriage has been Terminated and The Cult of Violence.

✔ A selection of personal belongings and mementos including the War Merit Cross awarded to Hemingway during World War I; Hemingway’s street map of Paris; an impala trophy shot by Hemingway, his World War II dog tags; travel trunk; and a silver flask thought to be given to Hemingway by his fourth wife, Mary.

✔ Over 30 photographs documenting this critical period in Hemingway’s creative life.

The Ernest Hemingway Collection

Ninety percent of Ernest Hemingway’s existing manuscripts are preserved at the Kennedy Library, along with 11,000 photographs, books from Hemingway’s private library, and thousands of letters written by or to him by some of the leading literary luminaries of the twentieth century; family scrapbooks, fishing logs, war medals, tourist maps, animal trophies, a travel trunk with shipping stickers from Cuba and Paris — “an unparalleled collection chronicling the life and work of a towering figure of American literature,” states a library press release.

Why the Kennedy Library?

When Hemingway died in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961, a large portion of his literary and personal estate remained at his home, the Finca Vigía, in Cuba. Despite a ban on U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba during the Cold War, President Kennedy facilitated the travel of Hemingway’s widow, Mary Hemingway, to retrieve her husband’s belongings.

Ernest Hemingway and his sons (from l to r): Patrick, John, and Gregory) with blue marlin on the Bimini docks, July 20, 1935

Ernest Hemingway and his sons (from l to r) Patrick, John, and Gregory) with blue marlin on the Bimini docks, July 20, 1935

She shipped crates of papers and artwork back to the United States, and gathered material from other places he had lived. Her intent: to make the papers available so people could see his writing process from initial idea “to the point where it is finally published the way the author thinks is the best.” She decided to offer the collections to the Kennedy Presidential Library, since President Kennedy had been instrumental in recovering the bulk of Hemingway’s papers.

Through the active interest and support of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Mary Hemingway’s “generous offer” became a reality when the materials were officially transferred to the Kennedy Library and opened for research, according to library material. The collection, from which this exhibition is heavily drawn, has made the Kennedy Library the world’s principal center for research on the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, states a library press release.

If You Go …

Call 866-JFK-1960 or go online at

General admission to the museum is $14. Admission for individuals over the age of 62 and college students with appropriate identification is $12; and for children ages 13-17, $10. Children age 12 and under are admitted for free.

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