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Hidden Hemingway

Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park

Award Winners, Hemingway Studies

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DescriptionA time capsule and a life story told through photos, letters, and mementos

Award Star IconWinner of the 2017 Gold IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), Reference

Award Star IconWinner of the 2017 Eric Hoffer Award, Reference

Award Star IconHonorable Mention Foreword Reviews’ 2016 Indies 2016 Book Award, Reference

Thinking of Ernest Hemingway often brings to mind his travels around the world, documenting war and engaging in thrilling adventures. However, fully understanding this outsized international author means returning to his place of birth. Hidden Hemingway presents highlights from the extraordinary collections in his hometown of Oak Park. Thoroughly researched, and illustrated with more than 300 color images, this impressive volume includes never-before-published photos; letters between Hemingway and Agnes Von Kurowsky, his World War I love; bullfighting memorabilia; high school assignments; adolescent diaries; Hemingway’s earliest published work, such as the “Class Prophecy” that appeared in his high school yearbook; and even a dental X-ray. Hidden Hemingway also includes one of the final letters Hemingway wrote, as he was undergoing electroshock treatment at the Mayo Clinic. These documents, photographs, and ephemera trace the trajectory of the life of an American literary legend.

The items showcased in Hidden Hemingway are more than stage dressing for a literary life, more than marginalia. They provide definition—and, in some cases, documentation—of Hemingway’s ambition, heartbreak, literary triumphs and trials, and joys and tragedies. It’s Hemingway’s stature as a Pulitzer Prize– and Nobel Prize–winning author that draws so many biographers and historians to his work. It is also the wealth of material he left behind that makes him such a compelling, engaging, and often polarizing figure.

For Hemingway, the material he saved was both autobiography and research. He gathered data and details that made the life lived in his books more authentic. The authors of Hidden Hemingway have done the same, telling a life story through items that illuminate Hemingway’s legacy. Some of the material contradicts the public image that Hemingway built for himself, and some supports his larger-than-life myth. In all, Hidden Hemingway celebrates the Ernest Hemingway archives and Oak Park’s most famous author.

AuthorRobert K. Elder  is a journalist, author and former editor-in-chief of the Oak Leaves, which Ernest Hemingway delivered as a teen. Elder is the Director of Digital Product Development and Strategy for Crain Communications. His six previous books include Last Words of the Executed, The Best Film You’ve Never Seen and The Film That Changed My Life. Elder’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe,, The Oregonian and many other publications. Elder’s love for archives began in the late 1990s, when he annotated author Ken Kesey’s letters at the Knight Library on the University of Oregon campus. A Montana native, Elder lives and writes in Chicagoland. He wrote most of this book on a poker table, which he thinks Hemingway would approve of. Aaron Vetch is a writer and copy­editor living in Seattle, who has collaborated with Robert K. Elder on several projects, including Last Words of the Executed and The Best Film You’ve Never Seen. Vetch is a graduate of Concordia College with a degree in international relations. Mark Cirino is professor and Melvin M. Peterson Endowed Chair of English at the University of Evansville. He is the coeditor of Ernest Hemingway and the Geography of Memory (Kent State University Press, 2010) and the author of Ernest Hemingway: Thought in Action. Cirino serves as the editor of the Kent State University Press’s Reading Hemingway series, for which he published a volume on Across the River and into the Trees (2015) and coedited, with Susan Vandagriff, Reading Hemingway’s Winner Take Nothing (2021).