Ernest Hemingway’s Flourishing Creativity in Paris

by Evan Williams

Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris, France, with his wife Hadley Richardson on December 22, 1922, ready to find inspiration for his work. (Griffin 12).  Hemingway moved to Paris because it was the creativity capital of the world, and he felt a calling to the romantic sides of art and life, a calling Paris could fulfill (13).  Despite his yearning for the romantic, Hemingway was also practical.  Because of its affordability, he and his wife took an apartment in the Latin Quarter, a rather frugal part of Paris.   The apartment at 74 rue de Cardinal Lemoine had no running water and a slosh bucket for a toilet.  However, they both put up with the misery of the living conditions, because they both wished to live the “bohemian lifestyle” (“Hemingway”).  To combat such a miserable home situation, Hemingway took a room at the Hotel Verlaine, where he could work in solitude and focus on the most essential part of Paris for him – his writing (Griffin 12).

While Hemingway entered Paris intending to become an important writer, he chose to adjust to his new life in Paris before emerging onto its literary scene.  Hemingway waited two months before using his letters of introduction from Sherwood Anderson to introduce himself to Ezra Pound (Griffin 13).  While Pound was not well known for his own work at that time, he was a well-known critic of others’ work and he was well connected in publishing (13).  Pound was extremely important to Hemingway’s beginnings in Paris because of these two facts.  The other person Hemingway presented a letter to was Gertrude Stein.  Stein and Hemingway ended up getting along well, to the point of becoming extremely close friends (14-15).  Through introductions to these two people, Hemingway found himself connected to other important people as well, which was very advantageous in a new city.  In Paris, Hemingway also socialized with people such as James Joyce, Max Eastman, and Wyndham Lewis (“Hemingway”).

To support his family and foster his writing style, Hemingway not only wrote short stories, but he also worked as a journalist in Paris and Europe.  He covered everything from the Geneva Convention in October of 1922 to the bullfights on the streets of Pamplona (“Hemingway”).  Just as Hemingway’s status was building as a writer and a figure in society, he and his wife discovered that she was pregnant.  Trusting the doctors in North America more than those in Europe, the couple moved to Toronto in late 1923 for the birth of their son (“Hemingway”).  Unwilling to sacrifice the momentum he had started to build in his career, Ernest and Hadley moved back to Paris in January of 1924 with the newest member of their family, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway.

Hemingway’s move back to Paris was the best thing for him as a writer, because upon his return he fell into a flurry of creativity (“Hemingway”).  In 1925, he published a collection of short stories called In Our Time.  In 1926 he published The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises.  In 1927, he published Men Without Women and ironically divorced his wife and married his lover, Pauline Pfeiffer.  Upon learning that Pauline was pregnant, the new Hemingways left Paris and went to Kansas City.  However, all of these works from 1925 to 1927 were written in Paris, the romantic and intellectual gateway to Europe.   Hemingway and his fiction might not have become so well known so quickly had he not established himself in that center of creativity.

Works Cited

“Ernest Hemingway Biography – The Paris Years.” Hemingway in Paris. The Hemingway Resource Center. n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.

Griffin, Peter.  Less Than a Treason: Hemingway in Paris. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

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