Description

    Possibly the Last Book Inscribed by Hemingway

    Ernest Hemingway. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway - Possibly the Last Book Inscribed by Hemingway. New York: Modern Library, [1942].

    First thus. Inscribed by Hemingway on the front free endpaper, "To Jean, very gratefully from her friend Ernest Hemingway." Octavo. 597 pages.

    Publisher's green cloth with stamping in gilt and black. Cloth is rubbed with wear to extremities. Upper corner of rear board bumped. Top corners of the pages show shallow bends for the last half of the book. Front board has a few small stains. There is an internal coffee stain on page 335 that diminishes to a small spot by page 339. Previous owner's name ("Michaels") in ink on front pastedown. Adhesive stain and adhesive remnants to verso of dust jacket along the top and bottom edges, causing minor stains to bleed through to the front. Jacket also has a few chips to edges with a half-inch tear and some surface loss at head of the spine, and a quarter-inch tear with surface loss at the tail-end rear joint. Housed in a custom cloth chemise and slipcase. A very good copy.

    Accompanying this book is an informative three-page letter from the woman to whom the book is inscribed, describing the circumstances of the friendly relationship she and her family had established with Hemingway during the last weeks of his life. The letter reads, in part: "Ernest Hemingway was a patient at the Mayo Clinic the last 3 months of his life. His psychiatrist was a close friend of my parents who lived outside the city of Rochester in a large home on 4 acres of land with many gardens, a lovely big swimming pool & complete privacy! Mr. Hemingway spent many hours - & days on weekends - at my parents' home & to those of us who were not trained psychiatrists, able to recognize his illness, was a very affable gentleman who enjoyed our family, particularly the many small grandchildren. (My small sons sat at this feet at the pool as he explained to them how he received each of his scars. The gory details of his death were very distressing to them.) [...] He graciously signed my copy of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway as I told him how it had been read & re-read as I studied his work at Sarah Lawrence. Very soon after that he left, flew home to Idaho the next day & soon took his own life. - Jean R. Michaels"

    In his last years, Hemingway had been in several accidents, including two plane crashes, and had suffered serious injuries, including a grave concussion, temporary paralysis, and extremely painful first- and second-degree burns. His overall health was in decline, and his excessive drinking only made his last few years difficult and exacerbated his depression. He received electro-shock therapy, which seems to have led to memory loss and only deepened his depression. After a first unsuccessful suicide attempt, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic for another round of ECT treatments. It was during this period when Jean Michaels met and became friends with the author. It appears that Hemingway inscribed this book to Ms. Michaels only two or three days before he committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho on July 2, 1961. It is not inconceivable to conclude that this book was the final book signed by Ernest Hemingway.

    A wonderful item, with an exceptional letter of provenance.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
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