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Scrapbooks by mom give peek into Hemingway childhood

People:John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has made public five of Hemingway scrapbooks for the first time

Written by Associated Press | Boston |
July 22, 2013 1:03:42 am

Long before Ernest Hemingway first wrote a story,his mother was busy writing about him. Grace Hall Hemingway started a series of scrapbooks documenting the childhood of the future Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner. On Sunday,the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston made the content of five Hemingway scrapbooks available online for the first time,giving fans and scholars the chance to follow the life of one of the 20th century’s literary greats from diapers to high school degree.

The release of these records from the archive will come on what would have been the scribe’s 114th birthday.

Pennsylvania State University professor Sandra Spanier,who is general editor of a project that will publish Hemingway’s letters in more than a dozen volumes,said the scrapbooks that Grace created offer details of his daily life up until age 18 that aren’t anywhere else. “She almost made their lives into a story … and I think that carries over into his life and his fiction,’’ Sandra said.

Before he was 4,Hemingway was trooping into the woods to go hunting with his father and “using long words’’ and making “sage remarks,’’ according to his mother,who enclosed photos of her son trout fishing and holding his own rifle. “Can cock my own gun,’’ one of her captions read. By the time Hemingway was 5,his mother noted that he was collecting war cartoons and had an appreciation for characters with courage.

The scrapbooks have a plethora of family photos from the Hemingway family’s home in Oak Park,Illinois. They include letters to Hemingway and others he wrote as a child,including a note of contrition in which he confessed to bad behaviour in church. “My conduct tomorrow will be good,’’ 13-year-old Hemingway promised.

The scrapbooks also contain childhood paintings and tell of Hemingway playing the cello,suiting up for a “lightweight’’ football squad and taking up boxing. During his junior year of high school,he was on his school’s prom committee and,according to a report card note from his Latin teacher,showed “improvement both in attitude and work.’’

As Hemingway matured,the scrapbooks showcased his earliest attempts at the craft that would come to define his professional life. Among them were a short story from his high school’s literary magazine,clippings from some of his first assignments as a high school newspaper reporter and a sonnet in which 16-year-old Hemingway seemed to poke fun at himself.

“Nobody likes Ernest,that,is straight stuff,’’ he said,“and when he writes stories — we all cry ‘Enough.’’’

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