Description[Ernest Hemingway]. Archive of Letters Addressed to Ernest Hemingway circa 1918-1922. A group of over 35 letters from numerous friends sent during the period when Hemingway had returned from Europe, following World War I. There are also two letters received while he is convalescing in Europe. Hemingway had attempted to join the U.S. Army, but was rejected due to poor eyesight. Instead, he volunteered with the Red Cross and served as an ambulance driver. Just a little over a week after he arrived in Italy, Hemingway was seriously wounded when a mortar shell exploded near him and fragments were lodged in both of his legs. Despite being gravely injured, he aided fellow soldiers and subsequently awarded the Italian Silver Medal for Bravery. He spent time in a Red Cross Hospital in Milan before returning home in January 1919 to Oak Park, Illinois to recuperate. His friendships and experiences from this period form the basis for many of his short stories, including his semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams. The letters in this archive are written by friends who similarly become thinly disguised characters in his writing. The letters are unpublished, and include content rich in information for any avid Hemingway scholar or collector. The archive includes letters by Marjorie and Georgiana Bump, Yeremya Smith, Liz Shoemaker, Edward Sinclair, Bill Horne, Gregory Clark, Clark Edgar, Bill Smith, and an incomplete love letter signed "Julie", written from Tirol, Italy.
Henry Villard had also been a volunteer ambulance driver, who Hemingway met when the two were patients in Milan's hospital. This letter was written to Hemingway while he was still recuperating in Italy before he was sent home. Two pages, one sheet, 5.25" x 6.75", September 14, 1918, Rome, from Henry Serrano Villard, in full: "As we are leaving for the States, I won't have a chance to receive those negatives I left with you, so if you will send them out to Section I care of Leon Irwin, I will be much obliged. He will give them to someone he knows who is returning a little later. We are not passing through Milan at all, or else I would drop in to see you. I hope you are walking around somewhat by this time, and that the old limbs are nearly all right again. The night before we of the Harvard Unit left camp, we were told we could stay on for the length of our enlistment after all, but no one did. If anything worthwhile turns up in Paris, I may stick around there, if not, I'll go home and take my chances there. I wouldn't trouble you at all for the negatives, but the aeroplane ones I want especially for some fellows connected with 'Flying Magazine' + 'Aerial Age'. Sorry not to have seen you before leaving - Remember me to all in the hospital."
One letter, from a friend from home, reveals the enthusiasm that Americans still had for joining the European conflict, while Hemingway had already been over and back. Three pages of a bifolium, two leafs, 5" x 7.75", September 29, 1918, Oak Park, from Edward Sinclair, during Hemingway's convalescence, in part: "Dear Stein - I was very sorry to hear you got banged up, but glad to hear that you are getting along decently. It sure must be great to say that you have been thru the thing, and have been rewarded, and yet have pulled thru. I wish I was over there with you...Quite a few of the fellows have joined the American Ambulance Service. About 27 I think..."
Following his recovery, Hemingway moved to Toronto to work as a journalist for the Toronto Star, and he continued to write for them even after he moved to Chicago in 1921. He returned to his family's summer cottage in Michigan, where he maintained friendships with his friends whose letters are included in this group.
This letter, from Bill Horne (a fellow ambulance driver), is accompanied by two articles about Hemingway's injury. Horne would remain friends with Hemingway after the war and the two men roomed together in Chicago. Four pages of a bifolium, 5.25" x 7", February 5, 1919, Yonkers, reads in part: "...When you write the book I'll promise to buy the copy of it if you'll put me in as the unloved young friend of the hero, searching o'er land and sea for some fair dame who will think he is the only absolutely regular feller wot they is. Maybe one of your millions of readers will come across with a proposal of honorable marriage to the aforesaid u.y.f.o.t.h. That's me all over, Mable. Always out after the free publicity..."
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, was another important figure in Hemingway's life, although historians have often downplayed their relationship. Bump first met Hemingway in 1915 while she was visiting her uncle in Horton Bay. The two struck up a friendship, and Hemingway became close to her and her sister Georgianna. It is unclear as to the extent of their relationship, but it is believed that the two dated for a period, and the content of some of these letters may suggest the relationship had been serious. Hemingway also used her as one of his characters in In Our Time, when the character of Nick breaks up with Marjorie. The characterization of her and her mother deeply hurt Bump, but despite this, she remained a close friend to Hemingway throughout his life. The letters from her in this group provide a unique insight into the young Hemingway at this period in his life.
In an eight-page letter (on two bifola, 5" x 6.5") dated June 11, 1920, Marjorie writes: "...I got to thinking about you today and of the good times we have had. You were the best all around pal I have ever known. I do wish I might have had time to visit with you. You see, Stein, I want you to understand that I have never misunderstood you. I have understood a great deal more than you realize...From Barge."
A few months later on September 21, 1920, Marjorie writes: "...I have thought about you a lot, dear old Steinovich, wondering how to be most fair to you. It isn't fair for you to think I might care, when perhaps I never would that way. I don't believe I will, but let's not talk about that. We can always be real friends, can't we? It always gives me a happy feeling to think that I can always count on you...Please write and tell me about everything. You speak about not writing if this wasn't satisfactory. There is no reason why you should stop writing no matter what this should say. I intend to keep on writing to you for the rest of my life so you may as well make up your mind to if - and decide whether you care to read desidedly [sic] ugly ones (if you refuse to answer)..." Almost one year later, Hemingway would go on to marry Hadley Richardson.
Later on September 30, 1920, Marjorie writes: "...Will you do something I want you to do, Stein? Make mother like you as you did at first. You know you can if you try for you have a way of doing it when you want to. She did like you mighty well at first until I guess you made her feel that you disliked her. She saw too that you hurt me and oh well heck - if here I can forgive you for that, she can't seem to. Thus you can see - as we are to continue in the roll of good pals - it would be much better - much happier and much simpler if she and you were better understood. Please - even if you don't want to...Goodnight sir, Barge." She adds a postscript signed "Red".
By 1921, Hemingway was an accomplished reporter for The Toronto Star. His co-worker Gregory Clark had actually advised him to give up writing fiction to pursue journalism. However, Hemingway continued to write short stories and works of fiction. A letter from Yeremya Kenley Smith, who introduced Hemingway to Sherwood Anderson and Carl Sandburg, discusses one of Hemingway's unpublished stories "The Ash-Heel's Tendon". It reads, in part: "I am ashamed to say that I have your telegram about the Ash-heels tendon. This yarn is a masterpiece, in conception and atmosphere. I regret to say that you have written the damn thing so fast that the heads have got all involved in places, so that they are locked in a death-grapple of the most gripping character. This condition should be remedied. I am ashamed to admit that I had fully and conscientiously intended to indicate certain changes and verbal correlations, but the flu has marked my moral character. Yes, I was prone on my back for two weeks, hovering over the icy chasm wherein the best of us get finally quenched. My sufferings were frightful. I was in bad shape. Now that you learn about the tendency of the Ash-heels, what's to do? Shall I return some? I feel that I fail to get across to you just how good this [illegible] is. (Before I became a copywriter I would have said - how essentially good. But not many earn a living)..."
A postscript was added by Smith's common-law wife, Doodles: "Since Yemmy penned the above, he has sent the Ashheels to a 2000 short story contest. The carbon I will send you, and if you wish to revamp it in case doesn't take the prize - do so and send it back to me for net charge. Am sorry to have held you up before, but two movings and two illnesses and various other bits of hard luck have just about floored. However, we are almost up, and the sun is shining once more. Do wish you would walk in on us. Doodles - We have left the Orderly Oaks for good."
All of these letters have great content. The majority are signed with humorous nicknames, a tradition Hemingway continued in much of his later correspondence.
Condition: Letters range from good to fine, with light toning and usual mail folds. Some letters have areas of dampstaining that affect text a minimal amount.
Letters in the archive:
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 7 pages, St. Louis, MO; Sept. 21, 1920
Yeremya Kenly Smith & wife Doodles, 2 pages, Chicago, IL; no date
Liz Shoemaker, 3 pages, Petoskey, MI; Jan. 2, 1921
Edward Sinclair, 3 pages bifolium, Oak Park, IL; Sept. 29, 1918
Henry S. Villard, 2 pages, Rome; Sept. 14, 1918
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 8 pages, Petoskey, MI; June 11, 1920.
Bill Horne, 4 pages, Yonkers, NY; Feb. 5, 1919
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 4 pages bifolium, no place; Sept. 30, 1920
Bill Horne, 3 pages, Streator, IL; Oct. 17, 1917
Carl Edgar, 2 pages bifolium, no place; March 19, [1920?]
Carl Edgar, 5 pages, St. Joseph, MO; June 11, 1920
Bill Smith, 2 pages, St. Louis, MO; March 23, 1920
Liz Shoemaker, 5 pages, Detroit, MI; July 11, 1920
Liz Shoemaker, 6 pages, Petoskey, MI; 1920
Gregory Clark, 7 pages, Toronto, ON; June 14, 1920
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 6 pages, Petoskey, MI; Oct. 23, 1919
Carl Edgar, 5 pages, St. Joseph, MO; Nov. 2, 1919
Carl Edgar, 2 pages, St. Joseph, MO; Oct. 5, 1920
Georgiana Bump, 4 pages, "At Home" [Petoskey, MI]; no date
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 2 pages (incomplete), no place; no date
Bill Smith, 1 page, St. Louis, MO; April 17, 1920
Carl Edgar, 3 pages, St. Joseph, MO; Oct. 15, 1920
Liz Shoemaker, 8 pages, St. Louis, MO; Oct. 1, 1920
Bill Smith, 3 pages, St. Louis, MO; Jan 22, 1919
Georgiana Bump, 8 pages, "At Home" [Petoskey, MI]; Feb. 8, 1920
Bill Smith, 2 pages, St. Louis, MO; Dec. 14, 1920
Bill Smith, 2 pages, St. Louis, MO; Oct. 25, 1919
Georgiana Bump, 6 pages, "At Home" [Petoskey, MI]; Jan. 20, 1920
Georgiana Bump, 8 pages, "At Home" [Petoskey, MI]; Jan. 20, 1920
Carl Edgar, 1 page, St. Louis, MO; Nov. 24, 1919
Carl Edgar, 1 page, St. Louis, MO; Nov. 3, 1919
Bill Smith, 2 pages, St. Louis, MO; Jan. 8, 1921
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 6 pages, Petoskey, MI; July 19, 1920
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 6 pages, no place; Jan. 16, 1920
Marjorie "Barge" Bump, 4 pages, no place; July 16, 1920
Liz Shoemaker, 8 pages, Petoskey, MI; March 7, 1920
Carl Edgar, 3 pages, St. Joseph, MO; March, 14, 1920?
Bill Smith, 1 page, St. Louis, MO; Nov. 10, 1919
Bill Smith, 6 pages, no place; March 23, 1920
Bill Horne, 1 page, Cleveland, OH; Sept. 29, 1920
Incomplete letter signed "Julie", 2 pages, Tirol, but circa 1919. We could not determine if this letter was addressed to Hemingway. It was a letter breaking off a relationship with the recipient.
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