Hemingway’s Writing Haven in Key West

Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors of all time. He had an adventurous life that rivaled the characters in his works. A visit to Hemingway’s writing haven in Key West is what inspired me to become a travel writer.

Photo courtesy http://www.hemingwayhome.com

Key West Home

On a visit to Key West in March 2015, I visited the home Hemingway had on the island. The Spanish Colonial style home contained many of the original furnishings from the time Hemingway lived there from 1930 to 1939. It is one of three homes Hemingway had and has been designated as a US National Register of Historic Places since 1968.  The home was the first on the island to have a swimming pool and a second-floor bathroom with running water.

Upstairs bathroom, the first with running water in Key West. Photo by Nicole Bergstrom

There are three portraits of him on the first floor. One where he is in his 40s, one in his 60s, and an artist’s portrait of Hemingway where he looks in his 30s. In each portrait Hemingway looks pensive, distinguished and sober.

Feline Generations

Another highlight of the property are the polydactyl, cats, who are descendants of the original feline Snow White, who was given to Hemingway by a ship captain.   Today, because of Snow White,  there are up to 50 of these six toed cats living on the Key West property.

Polydactyl Cat Image from Wikipedia Commons

The Writing Haven

As a writer myself, it is not surprising that my favorite room was his writing studio. This was located on the second floor of a carriage house, separate from the main house. I was looking forward to seeing this part of the property more than any other. He wrote many works including The Snows of Kilimanjaroand the novel To Have and Have Notand the nonfiction work Green Hills of Africa while in this room.

The First Travel Writer

Papa Hemingwaymay very well have been one of the first travel writers. These settings have been featured in his fiction and nonfiction works. He had also incorporated many of his life experiences into the prose as well.   Hemingway has lived and worked in many places including Italy, Paris and Cuba. He took part in a 10-week safari in Africa. Unfortunately,  because of the safari, Hemingway contracted amoebic dysentery that caused him to get transported via plane to Nairobi and this experience was documented in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. A fictional account of wife Pauline’s difficult birth was written into A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway did in fact inspire me to become a travel writer.

I can imagine that after some time drinking at Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway would come home guided by the lighthouse across the way. He would stumble up to his studio and write. As I looked at the room that Hemingway once sat in surrounded by books, I could understand how these surroundings inspired great work. It truly was Hemingway’s writing haven in Key West.

Pool at Hemingway Home courtesy of Flickr
Writing Inspiration

Hemingway’s writing haven in Key West was the highlight of my trip.  I can identify with Papa Hemingway on a few levels. As a result,  his writing inspired me to travel. I can also relate to the tortured and depressed writer personality too. He has touched me through his prose. I was intrigued by the legend and I want to emulate his adventurous lifestyle and share my experiences with the world.



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