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On September 18, 1918, Ernest Hemingway’s father wrote from Oak Park, Illinois to his nineteen-year-old son, a volunteer Red Cross ambulance driver then convalescing from war wounds in Italy: “Your wonderfull and long letter of description dated Milan Aug 18th received yesterday. It gives us a great picture of your tragic experiences and marvelous deliverance.” The same day, Hemingway’s uncle wrote from Kansas City that his own family had “been more than glad to see some of the letters which you wrote to your people in Oak Park” and urged, “please write us one of your best and most original letters as we should be happy to learn all about what you are going through and how you are coming along” (JFK). This provoked the young Hemingway to complain to his parents, “Uncle Ty writes and asks me to write a ‘nice original letter,’ to him. Wonder who the devil he thinks I crib my stuff from” (Letters I 160). Even as a young man, Hemingway was known as a colorful correspondent, his letters eagerly anticipated and circulated among family and friends. They were deemed worthy not only of preservation in the multiple scrapbooks that his mother compiled for each of her six children, but worthy of publication as early as 1918. His August 18 letter home from the American Red Cross Hospital in Milan, a vivid account of his wounding during a mortar shelling on the Piave front, appeared in his hometown newspaper, Oak Leaves, on October 5, 1918 (“Wounded 227 Times”) and again in the October 23 Chicago Evening Post. Nor was that the first of Hemingway’s missives to see print. The July 14, 1918 Kansas City Star ran excerpts from two postcards Hemingway had sent from Milan in June to his former newsroom colleagues, reporting that he was heading to the front the next day (Letters I 112). The postcards arrived at the Star on the same day as the news of his wounding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationErnest Hemingway in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780511862458
ISBN (Print)9781107010550
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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