The Big Ernest Hemingway Photo Gallery: The Novelist in Cuba, Spain, Africa and Beyond

We asso­ciate Ernest Hem­ing­way with for­eign locales: Spain, Italy, Paris, Africa and Cuba. He may be the defin­i­tive peri­patet­ic writer, famous­ly haul­ing his man­u­scripts-in-progress around the world while soak­ing in enough mate­r­i­al for the next book.

Lucky for us Hem­ing­way may also be one of the most pho­tographed writ­ers of his gen­er­a­tion. The pho­tographs in the Ernest Hem­ing­way Col­lec­tion take us into a mid-cen­tu­ry world where writ­ers, actors, polit­i­cal lead­ers and beau­ti­ful jet-set­ters min­gled on patios and yachts at ease before the cam­era. These were the days before paparazzi start­ed hid­ing in bush­es.

The col­lec­tion is avail­able to us with a typ­i­cal Her­ming­way-esque sto­ry attached. When he died in 1961 in Ida­ho, most of his per­son­al effects were still in Cuba. Hem­inway lived for 20 years in the Fin­ca Vigia, a home he bought with the roy­al­ties from For Whom the Bell Tolls. It was at Fin­ca Vigia that he wrote The Old Man and the Sea. Rather than writ­ing in the work­shop that his wife Mary had built for him there, he used the bed­room, leav­ing the new room for his numer­ous pet cats to use.

At the time of his death, Amer­i­can trav­el into Cuba was banned. How­ev­er Pres­i­dent Kennedy made spe­cial arrange­ments for Hemingway’s wid­ow Mary to return to Fin­ca Vigia and retrieve his per­son­al belong­ings. Years lat­er, the John F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Library and Muse­um received the mate­ri­als, includ­ing more than 10,000 pho­tographs, books from Hemingway’s pri­vate library (includ­ing A Draft of XVI Can­tos signed by Ezra Pound) and the hand-writ­ten sail­ing log Hem­ing­way kept of his trav­els aboard Pilar. The pho­tographs are now orga­nized chrono­log­i­cal­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly: Ear­ly Years 1899–21; Paris Years 1922–1930; Wars 1917–1945; Key West Years 1928–1939; Ida­ho Years 1939–1960; Africa 1933–1934 and Africa 1953–1954; Europe 1948–1959; Cuba Years 1939–1960; and Spain 1953–1960.

Hem­ing­way was in Paris when he sat for this por­trait in March, 1928. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Helen Pierce Break­er, was a friend and had been a brides­maid in Hemingway’s wed­ding to his first wife, Hadley.


By the ear­ly 1950s, Hem­ing­way was liv­ing in Cuba. The paint­ing behind him here at Fin­ca Vigia is a por­trait of him­self by Wal­do Peirce titled Kid Balzac.

Kate Rix is an Oak­land-based free­lance writer. Find more of her work at .

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