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 Pauline <I>Pfeiffer</I> Hemingway

Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway

Parkersburg, Butler County, Iowa, USA
Death 1 Oct 1951 (aged 56)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Garden of Legends, Lot 12, Grave 12
Memorial ID 5823 · View Source
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Literary Folk Figure. An intelligent girl who made a really poor marital choice, she is remembered as the second of Ernest Hemingway's four wives and as his partner during his most significant creative period. Born Pauline Marie Pfeiffer to wealth and position, she was raised initially in north central Iowa, moved to St. Louis at age six, graduated from the Visitation Academy of St. Louis, and when her family relocated to Piggott, Arkansas, remained behind to attend the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Pauline earned her degree in 1918, refined her skills with newspapers in Cleveland and New York City, switched to upscale magazines, and in February 1925 was sent to Paris, joined by her sister Jinny, on assignment for "Vogue". The next month she met the then up-and-coming Hemingway and his wife Hadley; though Papa at first wanted Jinny, Pauline became friends with the couple, even taking joint vacations with them, and just when she began a sexual relationship with the author remains unclear, though within a short time the affair was common knowledge within the Parisian artistic community. While there is some evidence that Papa would have been happy with a ménage-a-trois, that was a no-go for both girls and thus Hemingway asked for a divorce to which Hadley agreed, though with the stipulation that Ernest and Pauline separate for 100 days to see if their love was genuine. On September 24, 1926 Pauline left for Arkansas and during her time away received manuscripts from Hemingway for editing. Returning to Paris after Hadley dropped her demand on November 16th, she requested that the author join the Catholic Church prior to marriage, which he did. The couple married in Paris on May 10, 1927, less than a month after Hemingway's divorce was final, and when Pauline got pregnant returned to America for the delivery. On June 28, 1928, in Kansas City, Pauline gave birth to Patrick Hemingway by C-Section, the difficult labor and delivery providing the basis for the death-in-childbirth of Catherine Barkley in "A Farewell to Arms". On November 12, 1931, again by C-Section in Kansas City, Pauline bore Gregory ("Gig") Hemingway (deceased 2001). Her years with Hemingway were to see two major purchases, a Key West home in 1931 and the yacht "Pilar" in 1934, as well as the publication of "A Farewell to Arms" (1929), "Death in the Afternoon" (1932), "Green Hills Of Africa" (1935), a fictionalized account of a safari that Pauline would have just-as-soon missed, and multiple short stories. Papa was never an easy man to live with and his infidelities were numerous, some of his indiscretions, such as that with society figure Sara Murphy, well known and some not; in December of 1936 at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Hemingway met journalist Martha Gellhorn, a glamorous blonde who contrasted sharply with the short-haired tomboys that were the author's customary type, and history repeated itself, with Ernest finishing 1937's "To Have and Have Not" while staring at Martha and the pair joining to cover the Spanish Civil War, in which Pauline and her husband favored opposite sides, then living together in Cuba, though the divorce did not become final until November 4, 1940, just after the publication of "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Following the break-up, Pauline remained in Key West where she ran a high-end fabric shop, dividing her time between Florida and San Francisco. When Gig was arrested for drug possession and for public indecency by cross-dressing and entering the ladies' room of a Southern California theater, the result was a long distance telephone fight of monumental proportions between his father, then in Havana with his fourth wife Mary, and his mother, who was visiting her sister Jinny in Los Angeles. A few hours later Pauline suffered a hypertensive crisis and was admitted to a Hollywood hospital where she soon died; years after, Gregory, by then a physician, studied his mother's autopsy record and concluded that she had died of a pheochromocytoma, an adrenal tumor which can secrete catecholamines and thus raise blood pressure to fatal levels. Pauline's story is told at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, opened in 1999 by Arkansas State University at Piggott with Gig as guest speaker. She received a rather harsh depiction in Papa's posthumously published "A Moveable Feast", though the portrait has been softened a bit in revision, was told about in each of the various Hemingway biographies and in Bernice Kert's 1983 "The Hemingway Women", and in 2012 was the subject of a full biography in "Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage" by Ruth Hawkins. The story of the Ernest-Hadley break-up is fictionalized in Paula McLain's 2011 "The Paris Wife" and Papa's fantasies may well be a part of the basis for the posthumously published and heavily edited "The Garden of Eden". Pauline was played by Marisa Berenson in the 1988 miniseries "Hemingway", by Molly Parker in 2012's "Hemingway & Gellhorn", and was more-or-less portrayed by Caterina Murino in the 2008 film adaptation of "The Garden of Eden". Today the house in Key West is a museum populated by a great many cats, "Pilar" has been left to rot in Cuba, and two Pauline-centered mysteries remain: Some have contended that one or more of the short stories were written by her with Papa taking credit. While both were journalists with a journalistic writing style, and while Pauline was by Hemingway's own statement the best editor with whom he ever worked, there is simply no proof. Though Ernest Hemingway was certainly too smart to leave such evidence where it could be found, it must noted that Pauline never claimed authorship of any Hemingway story even after a bitter divorce. The second mystery is whether Hemingway had an affair with Jinny Pfeiffer; he was originally attracted to her in Paris and though Jinny usually preferred girls, there was plenty of opportunity and such is possible, but again there is only oft-repeated speculation with no concrete evidence ever being found.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 6 Jul 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5823
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway (22 Jul 1895–1 Oct 1951), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5823, citing Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .