While most young Americans are inducing mad quantities of Cocoa Cola and Hot Dogs, I am in Marquette Park on Mackinac Island reading about Ernest Hemingway’s life long love for Northern Michigan.
“I drink to make other people more interesting.” This famous Hemingway quote reminds me of Detroit but as it turns out he wasn’t writing about Detroit at the time. In fact, much like myself, Hemingway’s love of Michigan is almost exclusively dedicated to Northern Michigan. Not only does he have a Nobel Prize but the man has impeccable taste in destinations.
The Michigan Link
Hemingway’s father, Dr Clarence Hemingway had a motto he instilled in his children, “a good life is an active life” which in turn inspired (or forced?) their love of the open spaces, lakes and adventures Northern Michigan affords. Ernest’s parents bought Windermere on Walloon Lake (then Bear Lake) and spent their first family summer at the house in 1900. Windermere itself was designed by Ernest’s mother Grace and totaled $400. The Windermere was left to Ernest and remains in the family. It is not open to the public.
He met and later married his wife in Horton Bay and honeymooned at his childhood summer home, the Windermere. Many of his stories have vivid descriptions of his childhood memories in Northern Michigan. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro gives an elaborate description of adolescent memories of friends, the Bacon’s homestead in Michigan. Horton Bay is described in The End of Something, Three Day Blow and Summer People and Hemingway used Petoskey as a setting for his first published novel, The Torrents of Springs after he resided in Petoskey for a few weeks in 1919. He spoke at Petoskey Public Library to the Ladies Aid Society in 1919 after returning from the War. In 1928, his father committed suicide.
After his 1921 wedding he didn’t return to Michigan until 1947 when he stayed in Petoskey for one night. He was 265 pounds, married to his fourth wife and was a celebrity after The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms was received to acclaim.
Five years after his Petoskey visit he would receive a Nobel Prize for The Old Man and The Sea and fourteen years later he shot himself. This book is delicious.
The Book: Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan
The book, Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan by Michael R Federspiel (Professor of History, CMU) is a 200-page compendium of archival period photographs, captions and commentary compiled, organized, written to capture the imagination of the history buff and the Hemingway novice. The book contains vintage Hemingway family photos with excerpts from Hemingway’s writings and is a fascinating and informed reading for students, scholars, or those interested in Ernest Hemingway’s work.
“Ernest Hemingway never really did leave Northern Michigan. Instead he carried it with him and gifted it to the rest of the world.” p193.
Buy the book here.