Hemingway’s Cuba, Cuba’s Hemingway

His last personal secretary returns to Havana and discovers that the novelist’s mythic presence looms larger than ever.

Valerie Hemingway in Smithsonian Magazine:

HemingwaybarNine miles outside the city I arrived at what I had come to see: Finca Vigía, or Lookout Farm, where Ernest Hemingway had made his home from 1939 to 1960, and where he had written seven books, including The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast and Islands in the Stream.

The Finca Vigía had been my home too. I lived there for six months in 1960 as Hemingway’s secretary, having met him on a sojourn to Spain the previous year, and I returned to the finca for five weeks in 1961 as a companion to his widow, Mary. (Later, I married Ernest’s youngest son, Gregory; we had three children before we divorced in 1987; he died in 2001.) I well remember the night in 1960 when Philip Bonsall, the U.S. ambassador to Cuba and a frequent visitor, dropped by to say that Washington was planning to cut off relations with Fidel Castro’s fledgling government, and that American officials thought it would be best if Hemingway demonstrated his patriotism by giving up his beloved tropical home. He resisted the suggestion, fiercely.

More here.