Nation/World

Letters reveal author’s soft side

This undated photo, released Wednesday, shows Ernest Hemingway, second from right, and Gianfranco Ivancich, right, dining with an unidentified woman, left, wife Mary Hemingway, second from left, and Juan Dunabeitia at Hemingway's villa in Cuba. (Associated Press)
This undated photo, released Wednesday, shows Ernest Hemingway, second from right, and Gianfranco Ivancich, right, dining with an unidentified woman, left, wife Mary Hemingway, second from left, and Juan Dunabeitia at Hemingway's villa in Cuba. (Associated Press)

In one, Hemingway lamented the demise of his cat

BOSTON – Ernest Hemingway shows a tenderness that wasn’t part of his usual macho persona in a dozen unpublished letters that became publicly available Wednesday in a collection of the author’s papers at the Kennedy presidential library.

In a letter to his friend Gianfranco Ivancich written in Cuba and dated February 1953, Hemingway wrote of euthanizing his cat “Uncle Willie” after it was hit by a car.

“Certainly missed you. Miss Uncle Willie. Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years,” the author wrote. “Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.”

The letters span from 1953 to 1960, a year before the prize-winning writer’s suicide. Whether typed or written in his curly script, some of the dispatches arrived on personalized, onionskin stationery from his Cuban villa Finca Vigia.

The author also wrote from Europe, while on safari in Africa and from his home in Idaho.

The two men met in a Venice hotel bar in 1949, bonding despite a two decade age difference because they’d both suffered leg wounds in war.

“I wish I could write you good letters the way you do,” Hemingway wrote in a January 1958 letter from Cuba. “Maybe it is because I write myself out in the other writing.”

Experts say the letters demonstrate a side to Hemingway that wasn’t part of his persona as an author whose subjects included war, bullfighting, fishing and hunting.

The Kennedy library foundation bought the letters from Ivancich in November.



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