Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


The Young Hemingway Gift Guide

What to get the Hemingway fan for the holidays? The obvious choices might be a good fishing pole, or a few bottles of Ballantine Ale. But why not take some suggestions from Hemingway himself?

In The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 1, we learn that the young Hemingway cheered for the Chicago Cubs, read Forest and Stream magazine, and was a bit of a sweet tooth. Take inspiration from the letters for some Hemingway-related gifts!

1) Baseball tickets

Many of Hemingway’s earliest letters mention American’s favorite pastime: He sent some of his allowance away to buy photos of his favorite players, when Sporting News magazine offered them for 5 cents each. But his favorite boyhood team was the Chicago Cubs. In a letter dated May 1912, he writes to his father, “I looked up in my baseball schedule and found that the New York giants play chicago cubs for the championship on Sat. … Lets see if we can’t go it will be a dandy game the last of the Series.”

2) Camping gear

Everyone knows that Hemingway loved to fish, especially from his home in Cuba in the ‘40s and ‘50s, but he was an avid outdoorsman from a young age. When he returned from WWI in 1919, he spent the summer camping in Michigan, hiking along the Black River and through the Pine Barrens. Although any camping equipment would be a great gift, consider picking up a copy of Camping and Camp Cooking, which Hemingway checked out of the library in preparation for his trip (It’s also available on Google Books). Or take out a subscription to Field and Stream; Hemingway read its competitor, Forest and Stream, which was purchased by its rival in 1930.

3) Brooks Brothers duds

One might not picture Hemingway as a fashionista, and his letters don’t often mention clothes. So when he talks about a new Brooks Brothers suit, you know it’s serious. “This new suit will place you in a state of coma. It is the genuwind English,” he writes to his childhood friend William B. Smith, Jr. in 1921. A suit might be a little much for a holiday gift, but we think Hemingway would have approved of their scarves (genuine Scottish) just the same.

4) Marshmallow peanut candy

Although they spent many years in different cities, Hemingway and his sister Ursula often sent letters and packages to each other, some including candy. In a letter from December of 1919, Hemingway puts in a request: “I’m enclosing $5.00 and I want you to go to Mrs. Snyder’s on Mich. Boulevard, you know where it is, and get me two boxes of candy and parcel post them to me up here. Get what ever kinds look the best to you. Those marshmallow nuts all over ‘em things are good.” For a gift with a homemade touch, try making a similar recipe for those with a sweet tooth.

5) A typewriter

Starting out as a journalist at the Kansas City Star, the typewriter was Hemingway’s indispensible tool. “Everything we write is on the Typewriter,” he says of the newsroom, but he soon used one for his own writing and missives. Hemingway owned a Corona, the most popular portable typewriter of the time, model of which you can still find for sale on eBay. Get one for the aspiring journalist in your life – or just for someone who wants to write a few letters of his own.

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