News & Opinion | July 13, 2018 10:34 am

Hemingway Expert Delves Into Writer’s Past, Finds Woman He Tried to Erase

“Are you a war correspondent or wife in my bed?”

Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn) on beach at Waikiki. (Getty)
Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn) on beach at Waikiki. (Getty)

Referring to herself as an “accidental aficionado” of Ernest Hemingway’s life, Town & Country’s Paula McLain recently traveled to the home that Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, shared in Cuba. Gellhorn was a “maverick war correspondent” who was the only woman at D-Day, and met Hemingway while they shacked up in Madrid’s Hotel Florida in Spain. (He was still married to his second wife at the time.) Shortly afterward, the moved to Cuba and quickly married, staying together for years until Hemingway purposefully leveraged his fame to squelch out the career that Gellhorn loved so much.

And it worked. It struck McLain that, upon visiting the house in Cuba, there is almost no evidence that Gellhorn ever existed. The decorations are Hemingway’s, the tourists ogling the outside of the house likely don’t know she ever lived there, and many fans of Hemingway himself likely think of her as insignificant in the greater scheme of Hemingway’s life. But McLain delves deep into Gellhorn’s life, detailing her “incontrovertible proof of the human spirit” and the way she went on to contribute and lend a hand to the Allies in World War II.