Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) is one of the most well-known American authors, recognized for his crisp, direct writing style and beloved novels such as The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea. After serving in World War I with the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, Hemingway spent the early years of his life in Paris, since he believed that a European environment would be conducive to honing his talents as a writer. While in Paris, Hemingway and his first wife Hadley were introduced to Gertrude Stein and began to frequent her literary salon, socializing with writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. Stein labeled Hemingway and a number of other American expatriate writers of his cohort the “Lost Generation,” a term that refers to the emotional and physical scarring left by the experience of World War I.
The Hemingway Letters Project is a massive undertaking that aims to publish a comprehensive, scholarly edition of extant letters written by Ernest Hemingway. The Project is supported by the author’s son, Patrick Hemingway, who believes that these letters will show a different side of his father: the optimistic and comical side, mitigating the perception of his father as a solely tragic figure who ended his own life. Part of the mission of the Project is to locate these letters, both those housed in university collections and those owned by private collectors.
The University of Tulsa is proud to have submitted letters from our collection of Ernest Hemingway ephemera to the Project. Though our collection consists primarily of letters written to Hemingway, particularly fan mail, we do possess a small number of letters written by Hemingway. In one memorable letter contained within our collection, Hemingway requests employment at the Chicago Tribune. The letter’s opening lines are distinctive of the humorous side of his father that Patrick Hemingway wishes to reveal to the world. The letter reads, “No attempt will be made to write a trick letter in an effort to plunge you into such a paroxysm of laughter that you will weakly push over to me the position advertised in Sunday’s Tribune.”
A lengthy endeavor, The Hemingway Letters Project is expected to take two decades to complete. The first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway was released this month from Cambridge University Press. Additional volumes will be printed as they are completed.