Ernest Hemingway’s letters to friend on drinking expected to fetch $25000 at auction
A collection of letters written by American writer Ernest Hemingway to his close friend Guy Hickok – discussing drinking, money and writing – is expected to fetch $25,000 (approx ₹16 lakh) at an auction in the US.
Hemingway first met the recipient of these letters, Guy Hickok (addressed in the letters as “Gros”) in the early 1920s when they were both acting as foreign correspondents for North American newspapers in Paris.
Hemingway, working for the Toronto Star, began what would become an enduring friendship with Hickok, who was on assignment for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. This correspondence is unrestrained and mildly profane, and lends tremendous insight into Hemingway’s life and work, according to the US-based RR Auction.
In a nine-page long letter, signed ‘Ernest’, dated May 7, 1931, Hemingway wrote, “When my kidney was being weird had to give up drinking for about 6 weeks but now can drink and have drunk for ever since a year ago last February.”
Hemingway goes on to describe a drunken incident, in which he was left sleeping on the front porch of his house on a winter night, because his wife Pauline could not help him up the stairs.
“I saw the car was standing with the top down and the 3/4 empty bottle very visible (it had been invisible in the dark) in front of the church with the French nameplate to identify it!,” Hemingway wrote in the letter written aboard the S S Volendam of the Holland-America Line.
“Don’t want to claim to be a drunk like you but have not become respectable Gros,” he wrote.
In the letter he invites Hickok to read some of his work in progress in Madrid, where Hemingway promises to work hard to get his book finished. “The reason I didn’t write you about the book is because it is hard enough to write it without writing about it,” Hemingway wrote in the letter.
He goes on to discuss his travel plans and the repayment of a loan, before discussing an arm injury suffered in Montana.
“I couldn’t write then because my arm was still paralyzed. Have only been able to write since 3 weeks. It will be absolutely all right if keep after it. Anyway can shoot, fish and write with it now, but can’t sock anybody,” Hemingway wrote.
He even sketched a diagram of his arm’s range of motion. Hemingway also provided a sketch of his new home in Key West, pointing out his favourite features.
In the second, unsigned letter in pencil, dated June 18, 1935, Hemingway scolds his friend for not letting him know when he got into a “money jam”.
“Gingrich of Esquire is coming here July 3-6 to fish and I will talk to him about your staff,” he wrote.
In the third letter, Hemingway wrote, “Don’t be afraid to cash this check as have 438 in bank by latest statement. Also 1000 coming in on July 1.”
In the fourth letter, signed “Hemingstein,” he thanked Hickok for sending “100 bucks”.
He mentions being in a bit of a financial crisis himself, and appreciates Hickok for sending him so much money together.
At the conclusion, Hemingway jots down his Cuban address: “Address, Hotel Ambos Mundos, Havana - Cuba.”
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