Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

'Hemingway In Love' Chronicles Papa's Romantic Regrets

According to author A.E. Hotchner, Ernest Hemingway considered his first wife Hadley — seen here — to be the love of his life.
The National Archives
According to author A.E. Hotchner, Ernest Hemingway considered his first wife Hadley — seen here — to be the love of his life.

In 1966, author A.E. Hotchner published Papa Hemingway, the memoir of his 13-year friendship and many conversations with Ernest Hemingway, who had taken his own life a few years earlier.

The book's publication was contested and controversial — Hemingway's widow, his fourth wife, Mary, went to court to block it. She failed, and the book came out.

Papa Hemingway was both a commercial and critical success. Now, at age 95, Hotchner has published a slim volume of stories he says he left out of Papa Hemingway — it's called Hemingway in Love: His Own Story.


Hotchner tells NPR's Robert Siegel that Hemingway considered Hadley, his first wife, to be the true love of his life. "What he's talking about, really, are his first two wives, Hadley the first and Pauline the second. In my experiences with him at the tail end of his life, he was reliving the mistakes he made, being in love with those two women at the same time."

Interview Highlights

On why he took so long to publish these new stories

When I first wrote Papa Hemingway, there were too many people still alive, and the lawyers for Random House didn't want to OK it. But now all that's been filtered away by the passage of all these people. And having the fortune of surviving, I now feel that I am the custodian of what Ernest wanted the world to know about him and these women.


On the lawsuit by Mary, Hemingway's fourth wife

That was the result of the fact that when he committed suicide, the first thing Mary did — instead of calling for his doctor or the hospital — she got hold of the columnist at that time, Leonard Lyons, who was in Hollywood, got hold of him and said, would you please call the press for me and tell them that Papa was cleaning his gun, and it went off accidentally. So that was the prevailing story about how Hemingway had died. And so for the first time I revealed what really happened, that Ernest had had a delusionary decline. When she read that, she was obviously upset — but that's what caused the lawsuit. Everything else was just window dressing.

On his friendship with Hemingway

It stays with me, with the same kind of stick-to-itiveness that any other memory that I have, of my father, of my mother — I mean, he was called Papa, and I called him Papa for a reason, and that was he was a real father figure. He taught me how to swing a gun so I could shoot a pheasant. He taught me the whole romance of bullfighting. He was a marvelous raconteur and a marvelous teacher of how to enjoy — not how to do, so much as how to enjoy what you do.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit