Comment on Timothy Christian’s biography of Mary Welsh Hemingway

Posted on: August 11th, 2022 by Wayne Fraser No Comments

I appreciated Timothy Christian’s biography of Mary Welsh Hemingway, Hemingway’s Widow. It paints a balanced portrait of her and of her marriage with Ernest Hemingway, the joys and sorrows thereof.

In his book Christian comments on Mary’s “frustration with traditional scholars” (p. 407), and in the recent Hemingway Newsletter interview, hopes “that my book will lead to further investigation into Mary’s role in Ernest’s literature.”

Christian mentions Mary’s presentation to a symposium at the University of Alabama in 1976, but misses Mary’s key contribution to Hemingway scholarship which began at that conference. After she lamented that scholars did not explore Hemingway as reader, Dr. James D. Brasch and Dr. Joseph Sigman of McMaster University, received her blessings and co-operation for the cataloguing of the books at the Finca, outside Havana, personally writing to Castro for his permission for them to do so. The results of their efforts produced the invaluable compilation of Hemingway’s books which highlights to academics the influence of Hemingway’s reading on his writing.

In the preface to their book, Hemingway’s Library, Brasch and Sigman pay tribute to Mary’s “inspiration from the inception of this project. In fact, her comments set the wheels in motion. She submitted to hours and hours of interviews and telephone conversations, provided contacts, supplied letters of introduction, corresponded with us and generally supported and promoted our project.”

Further description of Brasch and Sigman’s crucial meeting with Mary during the 1976 Alabama conference and their work on the bibliography can be found in my article on this webpage:

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