The Photogenic Author: Ernest Hemingway

When I was sixteen, I harbored a secret schoolgirl crush on Ernest Hemingway. While my classmates were decorating their 3-ring binders with pictures of N’Sync, I kept the literature book open to page 366 where a black and white snapshot of a young, gawky Hemingway grinned out from behind the glossy page.

He was no more than eighteen, awkwardly dressed in WWI conscription uniform, and casually leaning on a pair of crutches. Yet there was something haunting about him, something that made him infinitely more appealing than N’Sync. Of course, I wasn’t about to paste internet print-outs of young Hemingway on my 3-ring binder in the midsts of Timberlake-mania.

The picture dated 1918. This Hemingway was the pride of Illinois, not yet the bull-fighting, hard-drinking, lion-taming, Old Man and the Sea. There was always something a little bit sad about this early picture; even then, he seemed doomed somehow.

Years later, with A Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms under his belt, the expatriate Hemingway went to a photographer’s studio to get his author portrait taken. What emerged from the darkroom was a black and white picture of a mustached matinée idol.

The portrait made women swoon and transformed Hemingway into the Rudolph Valentino of American literature. Women loved Hemingway so much that he was forced to build a brick wall around his Key West home to keep the ladies out…or so legend says.

Many candid pictures of Hemingway’s international adventures would follow: safaris in Africa, marlin fishing in Cuba, stag hunting with Gary Cooper in Idaho. Outside of writing, these photos transformed the boy from Illinois into an icon.

As for me, I prefer the pictures of the young Hemingway, not yet a man of the world and the father of the declarative sentence, but perched on the eve of literary greatness. Six years later, the same could not be said for N’Sync.


11 thoughts on “The Photogenic Author: Ernest Hemingway”

  1. ‘I kept the literature book open to page 366 where a black and white snapshot of a young, gawky Hemingway grinned out from behind the glossy page.’

    At least, it was a ‘Real’ person. I used to have my ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’ open to a page which showed a black and white ‘artist’s impression’ of how Sidney Charlton might have looked , comforting the milliner girl, before their imminent death at the gallows. Sigh…

    Your Blogs an interesting find, I look forward to reading more.

  2. I think I know what artist impression of Sydney Carton you’re talking about. That picture sent my heart aflutter too!

    To my knowledge, there are two “Tale of Two Cities” films out and the actors who portrayed Carton both looked good in their own way.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Dear Teresa

    I was touched by your “crush” on Ernest. Since I operate a “Canadian Free Theatre Company”, I would like to offer you a performance of “Hemingway’s Havana” for some worthy project in your area. Please examine my website: in order to see my background and let me know if the offer is of any use.
    Kindest regards
    Brian Gordon Sinclair

  4. Though I don’t share your feelings for Ernest, it makes me laugh picturing you in class fawning over his picture. I remember a few of those boy band fanatics from our classes, and I also chuckle at the thought of you silently scorning them and their obsessions. Too bad the classic women authors aren’t quite as… charming…

  5. I bet I can find a photogenic female author for you. Whether she’s from the classics cannon is debatable, but surely you’ve gotten off the ivory tower by now…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s