Literature
8:24 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Scrapbooks From Hemingway's Childhood Made Public

A page in which Hemingway's mother describes his birth.
A page in which Hemingway's mother describes his birth.
Credit John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
On the 114th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth on June 21, Key West wasn’t alone in celebrating the author’s life. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library announced that it would release five scrapbooks in digital form that document Hemingway’s childhood.

Seen by very few people, the scrapbooks had been in secure storage for decades due to their fragility.

The books include photographs, drawings, letters, keepsakes and school work that the author's mother held onto during the first 18 years of the author's life, between 1899 to 1917.

According to the library’s announcement, the descriptions of Hemingway, even when he was still a toddler, hint at many traits that he would later make him famous. In one passage, his mother describes him hunting with his father.

“Ernest Miller at almost 4 years of age, is able to go hunting with Daddy many miles through the dense woods and carry his own gun. He is a natural scientist loving everything in the way of huge stones, shells, birds, animals, insects and blossoms,” reads the announcement.

One of the scrapbooks includes a sonnet and clippings from his high school newspaper.

Mary Hemingway, the author’s widow, thought the Kennedy Library a fitting home for his work. President Kennedy played an important role in helping her retrieve them.

The library now holds about 90 percent of the collection.

In 1961, amid a travel ban and high tensions with Cuba, Kennedy arranged for her to travel to the country to retrieve the author’s papers and artwork. Then Cuban President Fidel Castro allowed her to take the papers in exchange for the donating their Finca Vigía home in San Francisco de Paula to the Cuban people.

Mary Hemingway began depositing the papers just over a decade later, and as of June 21 the scrapbooks have become available to the public through the library’s website.