“WE HAVE BEEN SO HAPPY AND HAVING RISKED IT ALL KNOW WHAT IT WAS WE RISKED AND WHAT LONELINESS IS…”: EXTRAORDINARY TYPED LETTER SIGNED FROM ERNEST HEMINGWAY TO HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW, EDNA GELLHORN, APPRISING HER OF DAUGHTER’S CONDITION FOLLOWING MARTHA’S RETURN FROM COVERING THE 1939 WINTER WAR IN FINLAND
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Typed letter signed. Cuba, 1940. Single sheet, measuring 8-1/2 by 11 inches.
Typed letter from Ernest Hemingway to his future mother-in-law, Edna Gellhorn (the mother of Martha Gellhorn, his third wife), signed: “much love from Ernest.”
Martha Gellhorn had been in Finland to cover the war for Collier’s magazine at the end of 1939 and returned in January, 1940. In this letter, written shortly after Martha’s return, Hemingway tells Edna Gellhorn about her daughter’s physical condition and declares how much he loves her. The letter reads, in part: “Dear Mother… [Martha] is wonderful and healthy and un-nervous and getting rested. She is 13 pounds over-weight but those were the 13 pounds that brought her home healthy instead of broken down and a wreck so I am fond of every one of them. She had to eat and drink plenty to survive that cold and if she had not been in the fighting cock condition she was in when she left Sun Valley she never could have stood up under that trip. I love her so much and am so proud of her that I know how much you must love her and how proud you are. Well if she was a horse that had just won the Derby it could be that you bred her and I trained her. Only I trained her damned little. But we have both trained each other very well. Then there wasn’t anything I could do to please Marty in the last days before she got here except maybe be neat so hell went in so for that and for organization etc. that was terrific. You see I never ran a house before but it just the same thing as a boat really and these servants are absolutely unspoiled and fine to work with. Now we are going to take about ten of the 13 pounds off and I am going to work hard and not worry. We have been so happy and haveing [sic] risked it all know what it was we risked and what loneliness is. All the good part I would never think about while Marty was away because it made me too lonely to live but now it is just as though your soul had come back into your body and we are awfully good for each other too in every way…. And I know now how it was a great and lucky thing for me that the three of you came into Mr. Josie's [Sloppy Joe's in Key West] that time in spite of all breakage. Almost no one gets what they should have and I have. This is just a note (very illiterate as usual) to tell you how much I love you and to thank you again for sending Marty and to tell you how much I look forward to when we can all be together again. [signed] Much love from Ernest.” Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn met in Key West in December 1936 and were married on November 21, 1940. Although they divorced on December 21, 1945, Hemingway maintained a close friendship with his mother-in-law. The year 1939 has been written in ink on the bottom of the letter, possibly by Edna Gellhorn.
Original faint fold marks. Fine condition.