Archive of Hemingway’s Newspaper Reporting Reveals Novelist in the Making

After return­ing from World War I, Ernest Hem­ing­way moved to Toron­to and began writ­ing for the Toron­to Star. He worked there from 1920 to 1924 and some 70 of his arti­cles have been archived online in an attrac­tive new web­site, the Hem­ing­way Papers. At first Hem­ing­way was a stringer and lat­er he wrote as a staff writer, under the byline Ernest M. Hem­ing­way. His first arti­cle bore the head­line, “Tak­ing a Chance for a Free Shave” and chron­i­cled the young author’s vis­it to a bar­ber col­lege where straight-edge razors were wield­ed for free by stu­dents. He went on to write for the Star about box­ing and trout fish­ing and orga­nized crime in Chica­go. By 1922 Hem­ing­way had moved to Paris with his wife and sent dis­patch­es that antic­i­pat­ed the themes of the nov­els that would make him famous. He wrote about the effects of warbull­fight­ing and the life of an impov­er­ished artist in Paris. His asso­ci­a­tion with the Star gave him access to post-war Europe that he wouldn’t have had oth­er­wise and work­ing as a reporter taught him how to get up close and per­son­al with his sub­ject mat­ter.

The archive gives vis­i­tors plen­ty to explore, includ­ing com­men­tary about the novelist’s ear­ly assign­ments and embed­ded anno­ta­tions to help put the work in con­text.  Hem­ing­way devel­oped his famous­ly terse, hard-boiled style at the Star and reworked much of his reportage into his fic­tion. Read­ers of his short sto­ries and nov­els will see seeds of Hemingway’s fic­tion in arti­cles like “Tan­cre­do is Dead,” about the death of a man whose job was to tease the bull by stand­ing as still as a stat­ue in the ring:

“No. He was nei­ther an opera singer nor a five-cent cig­ar. He was once known as the bravest man in the world. And he died in a dingy, sor­did room in Madrid, the city where he had enjoyed his great­est tri­umphs.

Read­ing through Hem­ing­way’s jour­nal­ism is to wit­ness a fic­tion writer in the mak­ing.

Kate Rix writes about k‑12 instruc­tion and high­er ed. 

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