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A Look Inside Hemingway's Marriage to Gellhorn

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Ernest Hemingway Papers, JFK Library, Boston
Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, 1940.

Ernest Hemingway’s third marriage, to Martha Gellhorn, gives a rare look into the domestic life of the famously macho, globetrotting Hemingway.

Janet Somerville’s book Yours For Probably Always, Martha Gellhorn's Letters of Love and War: 1930-1949 is full of correspondence between them and about them.

“Martha never really wanted to be married, period. She didn’t want to marry Ernest, and she agreed to marry Ernest just because he so desperately wanted to be married to her,” said Somerville.

But they did marry in 1940, and even on the verge of their 1945 divorce, were loving and gracious toward one another.

“They had lots of nicknames for each other, and one of her nicknames for him was ‘Bug’ and this is why she refers to him this way. ‘My dear Bug, I may not have been the best wife you ever had, but at any rate, I am surely the least expensive, don’t you think? That’s some virtue. As for the rest, whatever I had a share in, I know it was lovely,’” read Gellhorn’s letter.

She then went on to give her portion of the Finca, their home in Cuba, to Ernest and his next wife, as a wedding gift.

“I give to you as a wedding present and hope you are always happy there, and that this marriage is everything you have been looking for and everything you needed. And I hope you go on writing wonderful books there. And if you do, the Finca will one day become a national monument and be tended by a grateful and admiring government,” read Gellhorn’s letter.

Gellhorn’s predictions in that letter all came true.

PBS will air the documentary “Hemingway” April 5-7 at 8 pm. This is part of a series looking into other aspects of the writer’s life.

The audiobook of Yours For Probably Always, Martha Gellhorn’s Letters of Love and War: 1930-1949 will be narrated by Tony Award winner Ellen Barkin. Pre-order here.

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