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    Ernest Hemingway Letter Signed. Six pages, one-sided, 8.5" x 11", on his personal Finca Vigía letterhead, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, September 5, 1960. Finca Vigía (Spanish for "Lookout Farm") was Hemingway's home near Havana, where he lived from 1939 until just prior to his death in 1961; today it is a museum.

    This lengthy letter was penned for Hemingway by his secretary Valerie Danby-Smith, as Hemingway was suffering from eye trouble at the time. It is directed to his longtime friend Nathan "Bill" Davis and discusses his difficulties in completing an assignment for LIFE magazine on the subject of bull fighting. Hemingway finally submitted a 75,000 word manuscript to the magazine, from which a 30,000 word extract was published in three consecutive installments in LIFE in September 1960, the first installment having been published the same day this letter was written. The book, The Dangerous Summer, was published posthumously by his American publisher Charles Scribner's Sons in 1985 and is often described as Hemingway's last novel.

    The letter reads, in part: "Thank you very much for doing such a wonderful job with the two Krauts. Annamarie's letter finally came through and you were right. . . . I cannot give her exact publication dates nor give her 'some clarity as to her working program for the next few years' having just this morning . . . gone over 92,000 words on something that I hoped would not exceed 18,000 when I started with it. Still at least 15 days of steady work to go. . . . I took this advance from Life & it has been nothing but a headache. . . . I think it would be a bad play to take an advance now, which the Revenue Department at any time in the future might consider taxable. . . . If I get short of cash at any time we can take an advance on the Paris book." Hemingway goes on to request that Davis do some research on bull fights for him, then ends with complaints about his eyesight, which had been failing steadily. "Have been having some trouble with my eyes the last two weeks. . . . It could very well be fatigue, or writing in a tricky light. Have had them bother at other times but never for quite as long as this." Signed "Ernest."

    Although he does not mention it in this letter, Hemingway was greatly upset by the photographs used in his LIFE article. This, combined with his failing eyesight, high blood pressure and liver problems, caused him to seek medical care. A few months after this letter was written, he traveled to the Mayo Clinic where he received electric shock therapy, which only increased his depression because it damaged his memory. He told biographer A.E. Hotchner, "What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient." In the spring of 1961, Hemingway attempted suicide and was again subjected to electric shock therapy. On the morning of July 2, 1961, the great author was found dead in his Ketchum, Idaho home, from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. This amazing letter, with incredible literary content, is in very fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2009
    6th-7th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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