The History of An American Legend

Ernest Hemingway
Key West Classic Traditions



The Ernest Hemingway brand represents the qualities most readily associated with the American literary legend. The brand embodies the spirit of romance and adventure espoused by one of the great personalities of the 20th century.

First and foremost a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author of world renown, Ernest Hemingway is nearly as famous for his legendary lifestyle as his writing. A true sportsman and outdoorsman, Hemingway traveled the world pursuing his passions. A resident of Havana, Key West, Paris, and Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway hunted big game on African safaris, sat ringside at Spanish bullfights, fished the world’s oceans and traveled extensively throughout Europe in time of war and peace.

Hemingway products are timeless and enduring. Authenticity and quality are hallmarks of the brand, in design and construction. The romantic and international appeal of the Hemingway legend is embodied in the select group of products fit to bear the name.



Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899. His father Clarence, a physician, and his mother Grace, a former opera performer, lived in the upscale Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. Built for Ernest’s maternal grandfather and namesake, his childhood home stands today as a museum and visitors center cared for by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park.

During his early years, Hemingway spent much of the summer months on the shores of Walloon Lake in Michigan, at the family’s summer home, Windemere. While vacationing in the Michigan woods, young Ernest was able to explore the land, hunting squirrels and other small game, as well as fishing the many streams that fed the lake. Hunting and fishing remained two of Hemingway’s favorite pastimes throughout his life.

In high school Hemingway played many sports, and excelled academically. He showed a particular talent for writing. He wrote for both his high school’s newspaper, Trapeze, and for the yearbook, Tabula. Within the Oak Park public school system, Hemingway saw his first writings published, sometimes using the pen name Ring Lardner, Jr.



In 1940 Hemingway, with his new wife Martha, purchased a home outside Havana, Cuba. He would live there for the next twenty years. The Hemingways named the site Finca Vigia, or “lookout farm.” They shared their home with dozens of Hemingway’s beloved cats, as well as trophies from many successful hunts and fishing expeditions.

Hemingway became a fixture of Havana, and stayed in the country longer than many Americans chose to after relations between Cuba and the United States began to deteriorate. He fished extensively aboard his boat, Pilar, and enjoyed the island lifestyle, hanging out in Havana, and entertaining guests at the Finca. His home, with many original furnishings, hunting trophies, and personal artifacts can be viewed today.

When not fishing or traveling, Hemingway wrote a great deal from his Cuban home. While little of his work from this time was published during his lifetime, many of the projects that Hemingway worked on throughout the 1940s were later edited and published after his death.



Hemingway first stopped in Key West on a visit home from Paris. He soon fell in love with the island’s charms and the fact that it felt like living in another country. He and Pauline settled on the tiny island, first renting an apartment for several years, and eventually purchasing a home with help from Pauline’s wealthy uncle.

Key West afforded Hemingway the opportunity to enjoy the sport fishing that he loved so much. He sailed his boat, Pilar, around the Keys and fished the Gulf Stream extensively. Many famous images of Hemingway picture him standing dockside in the Caribbean, the catch of the day hanging beside him.

Hemingway’s presence can still be felt in Key West. The home where he and Pauline lived is now open to the public, offering tours of the house and the studio where Hemingway worked. Many of the places Hemingway loved to visit, such as Sloppy Joe’s Bar, celebrate his patronage.

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