Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Holidays with Hemingway: 1917-1921

Hallmark cards were just getting started when Ernest Hemingway was writing his earliest letters, but Hem sent his own versions of holiday greetings. A look through The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 1 shows that Ernest always sent out a few special missives during the season. But especially interesting are a few he sent over the years from 1917 to 1921.

In these five years, Hemingway spent each Christmas in a new city and at a new job, beginning as a reporter at the Kansas City Star and ending during his first few weeks in Paris. His Christmas correspondence during this period offers an illuminating overview of these critical years in his development as a writer.

Take a look at some snippets from the letters below to see what Hemingway was up to during the holidays each year:

While a reporter at the Kansas City Star

To Clarence and Grace Hall Hemingway, [17 December 1917]

Just think that a week from tuesday is Christmas. I suppose that I will have to work all day but probably not very hard as we will not put oit as maby editions.

While recuperating in Milan, Italy after being injured during World War I

To Hemingway Family, 11 November [1918]

After my treatments are finished I’ve been invited by an Italian officer to take two weeks. He wants me to spend Christmas and New Years at his country home and guarantees fine quail, pheasant and rabbit shooting.

While writing in Petoskey, Michigan

To Ursula Hemingway, [c. mid-December 1919]

I’m sending you Six rocks to get something for each of the kids and dad and mother. It won’t buy anything decent of course but I’m low on kale and get ‘em each some kind of a trinket.

While writing and editing the Co-operative Commonwealth in Chicago, Illinois

To Grace Hall Hemingway, [22 December 1920]

Well Merry Christmas to you old dear–won’t wish you Happy New Year because New Year is just one lurch nearer the grave and nothing to be happy over.

While lodging in Paris

To Howard G. Jenkins, 26 December [1921]

Bones and I are located in this hostilery on the left Bank of the river just back of the Beaux Arts and are in good shape. Our room likes like a fine Grog shop–Rhum, Asti Spumante and Cinzano Vermouth fill one shelf. I brew a rum punch that’d gaol you

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