Ten Things I Like About My Young Mr. Hemingway - Dundurn
Jun 13, 2024

Ten Things I Like About My Young Mr. Hemingway

We Were the Bullfighters is perfect for readers of historical fiction and historical reimaginings! set in 1923, Ernest Hemingway is struggling with the responsibilities of marriage and unexpected fatherhood. No longer a freelancer, he now has a gruelling job with a difficult boss, as a staff reporter for the Toronto Daily Star. On his first day, already feeling hemmed in by circumstances, he’s sent to cover a prison break at Kingston Pen. Get yourself a copy of this wild adventure today, but right after you read Marianne K. Miller's list of things she loves in her Ernest Hemingway!

  1. In 1923, Hemingway was still with his first wife, Hadley. Things were a little rocky with the lost manuscripts in late 1922 and the surprise pregnancy in 1923, but they were still together. Many believe she was the love of his life, and that he regretted leaving her for the rest of his life.

  2. From a young age, Hemingway was a very disciplined writer. He worked hard at his craft. He studied other writers. One of the problems in Toronto was that the long hours at the Toronto Daily Star left him virtually no time for his own writing. He was afraid to start a story, then not finish it and lose the idea. But one early November day in Toronto, despite this fear, he started to write one of the best short stories ever written, Indian Camp.

  3. When Hemingway first arrived in Toronto in January 1920, he’d been writing short stories and submitting them all the previous summer and fall without success, but he kept going. Although he was quite young, he had faith in his critical eye and his ability to tell a story whether in fiction or when reporting the news. In the spring of 1923, when the Toronto Daily Star started to publish his dispatches about the troubles in the Ruhr Valley out of sequence, he objected and demanded they do it his way and they did.

  4. Hemingway networked. He hustled. He took advice from Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Ezra Pound. He showed his writing to people who could help him. He asked for reviews. He wrote to reviewers and coyly asked where he might get reviews.

  5. Hemingway took chances with his writing not just with style but with content. Up in Michigan included in Three Stories and Ten Poems published in Paris in August of 1923, just before he returned to Toronto, shocked not only his straightlaced parents but also his mentor, Gertrude Stein.

  6. Hemingway loved travel and the outdoors. As a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star in 1922 and early 1923, he traveled to places like Italy, Turkey and Switzerland. For pleasure, he hiked and skied and bobsledded and fished in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Spain. He fell in love with Paris as a young man and he made subsequent generations feel the same way. Many guidebooks still include a walking tour of Hemingway’s Paris. And while he was not the only writer who frequented Shakespeare and Company, one might say, he put it on the map.

  7. He had a great sense of humour. When his story, My Old Man, is selected for a famous anthology in the fall of 1923, he writes to Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare and Company, that it wanted for a compendium of the best and worst stories of 1923. He loved to play with words, combine languages, give people, including himself, nicknames.

  8. Hemingway made the brave decision to become a full-time writer at the age of 24. Hadley may have had a trust fund but they had discovered while in Toronto that her friend and financial advisor, George Breaker, was playing fast and loose with her money. Funds were disappearing. They did not have a guaranteed income when they returned to Paris. Hemingway worked hard writing multiple stories for the Star Weekly to get enough money to move back. In the fall of 1923, he wrote so many pieces that the Star Weekly published some of them under another name.

  9. Hemingway, in some ways, modelled his life after the man who was president during his childhood, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt with his love of reading, writing and outdoor adventure was prominent on the American scene until his death at age 60 in January 1919 when Hemingway was not yet 20. Some call Hemingway the Theodore Roosevelt of American literature because, like Roosevelt, he was a man of thought and of action. Theodore Roosevelt published his first book when he was 24 years old. The same age Hemingway decided to become a fulltime writer.

  10. Covering Red Ryan’s escape on his first day of work for the Toronto Daily Star had an impact on Hemingway. Red was a strong guy in difficult circumstances who decided to take action. When Hemingway had had enough of dealing with a difficult boss in Toronto, he too took action and chose his art. According to Hemingway scholar and biographer, Michael Reynolds, Red influenced that art, “Many of [Hemingway’s] male characters live lives apart from the social norm, men without family, without homes, lonely, self-reliant men, men not so distantly related to Red Ryan.”

Marianne K. Miller is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Toronto. As an independent scholar and member of The Hemingway Society, she presented a paper, Hemingway in Toronto, at the 18th International Hemingway Conference in Paris, France. She lives in Toronto. Learn more here.