Monday, March 19, 2007

Where Did Hemingway Get His Sandals?

This and other questions are being answered as The Nature Conservancy begins a comprehensive archive of all items in the Hemingway House, as reported this week in the Idaho Mountain Express.

The home was built by Bob Topping, a well-known socialite of his day, in 1951. Ernest and Mary Hemingway bought it in 1959, and Mary continued living in the home off and on for 23 years after Ernest's death. The Conservancy were bequeathed the home in Mary Hemingway's will. The home now includes items from all owners, so tracing their history can be a challenge.

But the archive is turning up interesting items, and will serve as a valuable historic record as several Hemingway friends and relatives who knew the house well are still alive.

Marty Peterson, a Hemingway scholar currently working in the Office of the President at the University of Idaho, has played a vital role in assisting with the archiving effort. "The contents of the Hemingway House provide a snapshot of Ernest and Mary Hemingway's lives in Idaho,” he says “Scholars and Hemingway aficionados throughout the world view the house and its contents as an international treasure."

Right now, there are many stories about the house, but some of them are conflicting and often the information has been passed by word of mouth. Peterson has found items in the house that were brought here from Hemingway’s home in Cuba, and also has found items in Cuba with an Idaho connection, including two pronghorn heads Hemingway took in the Pahsimeroi Valley. Peterson will be returning to Cuba this year to seek additional information about the furnishings in Ketchum.

“The documentation will bring alive the real history of this place,” says Hemingway preserve manager Taylor Paslay, who is leading the archive. “With a computer inventory that includes the stories of each object, we will have consistent and accurate information that can be accessed by future staff and scholars.”

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