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 Jinny Pfeiffer

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Jinny Pfeiffer

  • Birth 27 Mar 1902 Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
  • Death 24 Feb 1973 Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 120256613

Literary Folk Figure. The younger sister of Ernest Hemingway's second wife, she is remembered for her association with the great author, the nature of that association then and now a topic of discussion. Born Virginia Ruth Pfeiffer to a family of wealth and privilege, she was raised initially in St. Louis but in 1913 accompanied her parents and siblings when they relocated to Piggott, Arkansas. In February of 1925 Jinny joined her older sister Pauline when she went to Paris on assignment for "Vogue" magazine; the next month the two met Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley at a social function and over that spring became part of their circle. Papa was at first attracted to Jinny, a small, pretty, short-haired tomboy and a lesbian in the bargain, in other words, precisely the writer's 'type'. Further, Hemingway was not yet rich while the Pfeiffer girls certainly were; in the event, the older and more educationally accomplished Pauline set her sights for Hemingway and used her friendship with Hadley in her quest, with Jinny as the frequent 'fourth wheel' in home visits, evenings in Paris, and even shared family vacations. Jinny became part of the Parisian lesbian community which included such well known personages as Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Beach and when Pauline returned to Arkansas on September 24, 1926 in obedience to Hadley's demand for a 100 day separation prior to divorce, Jinny stayed in Paris, remaining in contact with Hemingway and offering support, the degree and manner of the 'contact and support' a matter of speculation ever since. After Pauline and Ernest married in Paris on May 10, 1927, Jinny remained close to the couple, eventually babysitting Patrick and Gregory ("Gig"), sometimes for extended periods such as when the parents went on the African safari which was told about in 1935's "Green Hills of Africa". Jinny was devoted to her sister and apparently liked her brother-in-law, yet she wrote that Hemingway had taken advantage of the Pfeiffer family money, at least in the years before he became wealthy from his books, and, probably in early 1937, she served as the marriage's agent of doom by informing Pauline that Ernest had gone against type and taken up with the glamorous blonde journalist Martha Gellhorn. As Pauline alternated between Key West and San Francisco, Jinny developed a romantic attachment with violinist Laura Archera (1911-2007), living with her in Hollywood. Indeed it was Jinny's house at which Pauline was visiting when she and Papa had a long distance telephone fight for the ages over Gig being arrested for cross dressing and drug possession in the lady's room of a Los Angeles theater, a battle which led to Pauline's hypertensive crisis and death on October 1, 1951. Jinny adopted a daughter named Karen, remained with Laura, and continued as a member of the family even after Laura married famed author Aldous Huxley (1884-1963) in 1956. Jinny lived out her days in Hollywood and died in her home following a protracted illness, her granddaughter subsequently raised by Laura. Her story is told at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum opened by Arkansas State University in 1999 at Piggott with Gig as guest speaker. Jinny's presence in Papa's writings is difficult to verify, though she may well be part of the rather complicated ménage-a-trois depicted in "The Garden of Eden", of which there are at least three distinct versions and which was heavily edited and posthumously published in 1986.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 13 Nov 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 120256613
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jinny Pfeiffer (27 Mar 1902–24 Feb 1973), Find A Grave Memorial no. 120256613, citing Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .