Hemingway’s Secretary Discusses Time With Author
PIGGOTT – Valerie Hemingway, the private secretary of writer and Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winner Ernest Hemingway and the wife of Ernest’s youngest son Gregory, recently shared her experiences with the family at a dinner sponsored by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center (HPMEC).
Valerie Hemingway (center wearing white sweater) and the participants of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Reading Retreat.
Valerie Hemingway met Ernest by chance in Spain in 1959 and travelled throughout Europe with him and his wife Mary. Ernest was working on The Dangerous Summer, which tells of the Spanish bullfighting season of 1959. She later spent time in Cuba with the Hemingways during his final years when his health had begun to decline. Following his death in 1961, Mary asked her to organize Ernest’s papers for the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. She also became a part of the family when she married Gregory.
Valerie told stories about her time with the Hemingways and signed copies of her book, Running with the Bulls. “Valerie has a unique perspective on Hemingway. She knew him personally, and she spent years studying his papers. She shared her perspective graciously and with humor. It was a great evening,” said Dr. Adam Long, director of HPMEC.
The dinner was a part of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum’s annual reading retreat. Participants spent the months leading up to the retreat reading three novels. The group then gathered in Piggott to discuss the books. Members of A-State’s faculty served as discussion leaders. The event ended with the dinner that was open to the public.
The HPMEC is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site located in Piggott at 1021 W. Cherry Street. Tours are on the hour Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.