Hemingway at Princeton

The Manuscripts Division serves as a resource for many ongoing editorial and publication projects related to the letters and writings of major authors and historical figures. One of the most important such projects is the Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway, under the general editorship of Professor Sandra Spanier, Pennsylvania State University, Department of English. The project is making considerable use of the extensive Hemingway holdings in the Manuscripts Division. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway was conceived as a comprehensive edition of the complete letters of one of the premier American authors of the twentieth century. Three of seventeen volumes are now in print. Some six thousand letters by the author will eventually be published, approximately 85 percent of which have not be previously published. Many of those already published were in Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters, 1917-1961, a 1981 edition by the Hemingway specialist Carlos Baker (1909-1987), who was a Princeton professor of English (1938-1953) and then Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature (1953-1977). The current project is authorized by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/Society and the Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust, which respectively hold the U.S. and international rights to the letters. Ernest Hemingway’s son Patrick originally conceived of a complete scholarly edition of his father’s letters.

While Hemingway’s own papers are at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in Boston, most of the author’s outgoing letters are preserved in other libraries and archives, among which the Princeton University Library is one of the principal repositories. All of the Hemingway letters at Princeton are in the Manuscripts Division, the largest number being in the author files of the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, including letters from, by, and about the author, as well as contracts, publicity files, photographs, copies of original manuscripts, and other materials. The volume of Scribner’s holdings on Hemingway is not surprising since he was one of the publisher’s most successful authors—as well as a Scribner family friend—and remains a consistent seller among the legacy titles kept in print under Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint, more than a half century after the author’s death. The Scribner’s author files include extensive correspondence relating to the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1952), and many other Scribner’s titles.

According to Sandra Spanier, “Of the nearly 6,000 extant Hemingway letters we have located, about 1300 (21.6 percent) are in Princeton’s collections. In volume 3 of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway (1926-April 1929), the percentage of Princeton University Library letters is even higher: 131 of the 345 letters in the volume (38 percent) are from Princeton. This volume marks the beginning of Hemingway’s lifelong professional and personal relationship with Maxwell Perkins, who is the most frequently represented correspondent in the volume, the recipient of 74 letters during this period.” Princeton letters are also heavily represented in volume 4 (April 1929-December 1931), published in fall 2017.

The Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons contains a nearly unbroken stream of Hemingway letters, beginning in 1925, when the young author was living in Paris, until what might be considered Hemingway’s “last letter” (dated 18 April [1961] but possibly continued after that date), to Charles Scribner, Jr. (1921-1995). This letter relates to the author’s “Paris Book,” a memoir of the Lost Generation, which would be published posthumously as A Moveable Feast (1965). Hemingway never sent the letter, which remained on his desk in Ketchum, Idaho, at the time of his suicide (2 July 1961). On 27 July 1963, Mary Hemingway, the author’s widow, mailed the letter to Scribner’s editor Harry Brague, with the author’s three-page handwritten list of possible titles for the memoir. Hemingway decided on “The Eye and the Ear,” which turned into a tentative title, “The Early Eye and the Ear (How Paris Was in the Early Days).” But Mary Hemingway preferred another title, A Moveable Feast, which she took not from the author’s 1961 list, but from his own words: “If you were lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

In addition to the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, there is Hemingway correspondence in the Patrick Hemingway Papers (C0066), Hemingway/Lanham Correspondence (C0067), Ernest Hemingway Collection (C0068), C. T. Lanham Papers on Ernest Hemingway (C0305), Carlos Baker Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C0365), Ernest Hemingway and Milford J. Baker Correspondence (C0699), Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1390), William Dodge Horne collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1435), and others, as well as in the papers of other authors and friends, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (C0187) and Sylvia Beach (C0108). The Houk Collection is the subject of an earlier blog-post. A search of the Princeton University Library Finding Aids site identifies 1138 records under Ernest Hemingway’s name.

Among discoveries at Princeton by Sandra Spanier and her team were at least two bits of Hemingway typescript reused in letters. When Hemingway wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald on 31 March [1927], the third page was on a sheet of paper that appears to be a discarded draft page of “Hills Like White Elephants.” Then on 11 January [1929], Hemingway wrote to Henry Strater, typing on the verso of a discarded page of the typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Both of these letters are included in The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, vol. 3 (2015).

For more information, contact Public Services.

Ernest Hemingway, Madrid, May 1937

Ernest Hemingway,
Madrid, May 1937,
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons.