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Hemingway, Gellhorn, and Writing

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Hemingway in Key West

This week, PBS debuts a three-part documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on Ernest Hemingway. WGCU’s Cary Barbor looks at some lesser-known aspects of the writer’s life.

Ernest Hemingway was married to his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, from 1940 to 1945. Both writers, their interest in the craft is part of what initially brought them together.

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 Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway in December 1936, in Key West, in Sloppy Joe’s bar. He was sitting at the end of the bar, going through his mail,” said Somerville.

Gellhorn had published two books when they met; Hemingway had published three, and they were aware of each other’s work. Gellhorn wrote to her friend Eleanor Roosevelt admiring Hemingway’s work, shortly after they met:

“He does know the craft beautifully, and has a swell feeling for words, and is very careful about them, working slowly, and never using anything he doesn’t think is accurate,” Somerville read.

Later in that same Key West trip, Gellhorn would go on to read the manuscript of Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, which he was working on at the time.

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.