On July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway died at the age of 61. Though he and President Kennedy never met, President Kennedy more than once expressed his admiration for Hemingway and his work.
In a statement on Hemingway’s death, President Kennedy said, “Few Americans have had a greater impact on the emotions and attitudes of the American people than Ernest Hemingway…he almost single-handedly transformed the literature and the ways of thought of men and women in every country in the world.”
John Steinbeck was born on this day, February 27, 1902. A letter from the author to JFK:
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)
President Eisenhower received this 17th century prayer book from Mary Ruth Muller of Reno, Nevada. The book was published in 1633 by Robert Baker of London and features a cover of stumpwork embroidery on silk.
The book is now in the Book Collection of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Never Been Seen Hemingway Materials at the JFK Library
Today, the JFK Library announced that it has made available, in print form, 2,500 digital scans of Ernest Hemingway materials housed at the author’s former Cuban estate, the Finca Vigía.
This material, which has never been seen outside of Cuba, includes letters, passports, telegrams, bar bills, recipes and a notebook of fishing observations among other items. It was digitized through the efforts of the U.S. Finca Vigía Foundation.
Pictured: Hemingway’s passport photo. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1oePHnL
-from the JFK Library
Ernest Hemingway Fighting a Bull
The Running of the Bulls is happening now in Spain. Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises” famously described the Fiesta de San Fermin that brings thrill-seekers to the crowded streets of Pamplona alongside fighting bulls.
Here’s a photo of Hemingway bullfighting in Pamplona, Spain. Hemingway was participating in “The Amateurs” in 1925, one year before the publication of “The Sun Also Rises.”
Explore more from the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
Being that today is the opening of “Gatsby” we thought it fitting to share this snippet of a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway sent Fitzgerald the typescript of “A Farewell to Arms”, and Fitzgerald wrote back about ten pages of commentary and edits, ending his critique with a compliment about the book overall, saying “A beautiful book it is.” After reading the ten pages of criticism of his book, Hemingway added his own colorful language (pictured) on the bottom. But, we know from later drafts that he did consider some of the advice! (From the Hemingway Collection at the JFK Library)
A Presidential love letter to Libraries during National Library Week. Pictured here is President Ford’s 1976 message honoring libraries and librarians.
"In the finest American tradition, our public libraries offer all our citizens a chance to improve themselves and to broaden their horizons."
“‘Here, Laura and Mary,’ Pa said, and he gave them each a little round package out of his pocket.
They took off the paper wrappings, and each had a little, hard, brown cake, with beautifully crinkled edges.
'Bite it,' said Pa, and his blue eyes twinkled.
Each bit off one little crinkle, and it was sweet. It crumbled in their mouths. It was better even than their Christmas candy.
'Maple sugar,' said Pa.”
-Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House in the Big Woods. Chapter 7, The Sugar Snow.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on this day, February 7, 1867.
The Hoover Presidential Library holds the papers of Rose Wilder Lane, the only child of Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder. Lane was the first biographer of Herbert Hoover which led to a friendship with the 31st president that lasted more than 40 years.
Learn more about Laura and Rose at the Hoover Library.
Happy birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder!
LBJ and John Steinbeck
December 4, 1966. LBJ speaks with John Steinbeck, who is soon to travel to Vietnam. He will stay for five months, until April 1967. As you can tell from this conversation, the President and Steinbeck were very friendly—Lady Bird and Elaine Steinbeck, John’s wife, both attended the University of Texas, and LBJ and John had taken to each other at their first meeting in 1963. The Steinbecks also appear in at least two of Mrs. Johnson’s home movies of the Johnson family and their friends at Camp David, one from 1965 and one from 1967. John Steinbeck, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
Steinbeck was a staunch supporter of LBJ’s Vietnam policies. Both of Steinbeck’s sons served there, Thom and John, pictured above with his father and LBJ in the Oval Office. The Steinbecks visited the White House in May 1966, shortly before John’s deployment.
While in Vietnam, the elder Steinbeck worked as a war correspondent for Newsday. Some of his columns from 1966-1967 were recently republished by the University of Virginia Press: you can listen to an interview with the book’s editor here. More on Steinbeck and LBJ here, via NARA’s Teaching with Documents.
LBJ Presidential Library photo #A2439-4, 5/16/1966. Public domain.