December 1936: Ernest Hemingway meets war correspondent Martha Gellhorn

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1928 – On the advice of his friend John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway moves from Paris to Key West, Florida with his second wife Pauline. The latter gives birth to their son Patrick in June.

He becomes friends with Joe Russel, owner of Sloppy Joe’s Bar.
They bond around their love of fishing and soon venture on fishing trips to Havana.
There, the pair meet and hire as a mate Cuban fisherman Carlos Gutierrez, who would later be immortalized as Santiago in The Old Man And The Sea.

1929A Call To Arms is published. The novel is successful, providing Hemingway some comfortable income.

1931 – Hemingway’s third son Gregory is born. Later, Gregory would choose to be called Gloria, ultimately enraging his father who polished his public image of a tough, macho man in Key West.

December 1936 – Up-and-coming war correspondent and budding novelist Martha Gellhorn buys drinks to Hemingway at Sloppy Joe’s.

During her short sojourn at Key West, they talk extensively about writing and the Spanish Civil War. Ernest raised money for ambulances to help the Republican side and is preparing his trip to Spain, as he will be reporting for the North American Newspaper Alliance and working on the documentary The Spanish Earth with John Dos Passos, Robert Capa and director Joris Ivens.

March 1937 – They meet at the Hotel Florida in Madrid, as Martha is covering the war for Collier’s Magazine.
Ernest’s encouragements and mutual disdain for the so-called “impartial reporting” prove to be seminal for her career as a reporter: her first emotional piece for Collier’s narrating the death of a mother and her son during a bombardment quickly leads to more commissions.

To promiscuity it will lead as well, when after a rather drunk evening, they finish the night in the same bed.

Slowly falling in love with Hemingway, Gellhorn follows him to Cuba, where he starts working on A Farewell To Arms.

Restless, she travels all around Europe and Asia to cover the early stages of World War II while writing her first novel A Stricken Field, set in Czechoslovakia during the outreak of the very same conflict.

1940 – Finally divorcing his estranged wife, Hemingway marries Gellhorn in November as they move to Finca Vigia, Havana.
As Gellhorn is unable to settle, he follows her to China where she is covering the Chinese Civil War – this will double as their honeymoon.

Being both too independent-minded and competitive for their own good, the relationship turns sour while Gellhorn establishes herself as a first-rate reporter; they finally divorce in 1945.

movie_icon&16Philip Kaufman, director of an adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Anaïs Nin’s Henri and June, directed Hemingway and Gellhorn for HBO in 2012, featuring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in the titular roles.

Buy it on | UK | FR | CA | DE

doc_plus_icon&16Learn more about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Ernest Hemingway & J.D. Salingers involvement in World War II on “The Pen Is Mightier: Writers At War” – soon on the film industry and literary history webmag The (english) and Le (french).

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