The Old Man and the Typewriters

Ernest Hemingway at the typewriter

I recently read A Farewell to Arms. My wife’s book club was reading it so I decided to get myself a copy and see if I would enjoy the book. I read The Sun Also Rises once and didn’t like it all that much, so I was hoping this one would be better. It was better, much better. In comparison, The Sun Also Rises is hardly worthy of attention, and yet it got Hemingway lots of that. So who knows how this works. While doing the inevitable internet searches to see what the world had to say about A Farewell to Arms I stumbled across a number of supposed facts about Hemingway’s various typewriters, of which he had many. There were some facts that seemed reliable and a great number of what were obvious errors about Hemingway and the typewriters. I had to laugh at one comment stating he typed so hard he wore out his typewriters! If he wore them out, how come his first typewriter, a Corona folder, is still around and works?

There are lists and lists of typewriters he is alleged to have owned. Several are well documented, for example the Corona his first wife gave him for his birthday when he was 21 or so. Steve Soboroff owns Hemingway’s 3 bank Underwood, unless he sold it without informing me. I also saw photos of Ernest using a Noiseless Underwood, which I think qualifies as solid evidence for that one. Then there is the last one, the Halda, which seems to have solid provenance and which was allegedly sold at auction a few years ago. There are photos of Hem with a Royal with chrome trim around the hood too.

To fill out this list of Hemingway’s alleged typewriters we have a Royal P, as well as a Corona 4, plus various other Royals. While reading through all this a funny thought began to occur to me. I had a feeling that I own every one of Hemingway’s typewriters, or at least a close relative of same. I began to dig through the piles in the basement and discovered that indeed I do have a reasonable facsimile of every typewriter Hemingway is reported to have owned (that I know of).

Hemingway’s Halda
My Halda
Hemingway with his Noiseless Underwood
My Noiseless (Underwood and Remington models were the same machine made by Remington)
Hemingway’s Underwood 3 bank
My Underwood 3 bank
Hemingway’s Royal in Key West
My Royal Commander
Hemingway’s Underwood 4 bank at Key West
My Underwood 4 bank (one of several similar)
Another Hemingway Royal
My Royal Arrow
Hemingway’s first typewriter – Corona – in Cuba
My Corona 3 folder

I could not find any photos of Hemingway’s Royal P Portable, but here is mine.

My Royal P

9 Comments

Filed under Books, Typewriters, Uncategorized, Writing

9 responses to “The Old Man and the Typewriters

  1. mhoehne

    Thanks for bringing this all together. I find it so amusing when somebody “explains” that such ‘n’ such is a good typewriter because Hemingway used that model. He didn’t go out of his way to get a particular model because it was any better than others; he used whatever came his way and got the job done. Really, did he ever buy a second example of one he had used before (taking into account that Royal was the most common brand in America and thus more likely to come his way)?

  2. Heh, looks like the Old Man had fairly pedestrian (but good) taste in his typewriters, enough so that I apparently have brothers of many of his machines, too 😀

  3. Neat! According to my informants, he also had an Erika folding—but I don’t have a photo of that, and I feel skeptical about it now, since it’s a typewriter that wasn’t sold in the US and wasn’t very common in the European countries where Hemingway hung out.

  4. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. (I really like the looks of that Halda.)

  5. Mary Louise Reilly

    These pictures are captivating, I’m going to scroll through again.
    I imagine the ghosts of Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and who knows who else are scrounging around your basement looking for their old typewriters.

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