HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Incomplete draft of an autograph letter giving advice on writing to students, addressed to Josephine Ketcham Piercy, English instructor in at Indiana University and editor of Modern Writers at Work (1930), n.p., n.d. [Key West, 193...
Estimate: US$3,000 - US$4,000
Price realised: US$21,150
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Incomplete draft of an autograph letter giving advice on writing to students, addressed to Josephine Ketcham Piercy, English instructor in at Indiana University and editor of Modern Writers at Work (1930), n.p., n.d. [Key West, 1930]. 3 pages, 4to, in ink with a few revisions on rectos of three sheets of white paper, light, mostly marginal dampstains slightly affecting a few words at edges, some browning, edges with nicks, creases and small tears, the middle page two in. shorter at bottom (probably a rejected passage torn away by Hemingway) . "I WROTE A BOOK CALLED 'THE SUN ALSO RISES' IN SIX WEEKS" Hemingway writes in reply to Piercy's inquiry regarding his writing: "I do not know any valuable advice to give your pupils about writing except to continue. I do not know of anyone who wrote prose well to start with; although there is a sort of completely articulate writing that is done by, usually, very young English writers. I should think that the danger of this would be that the young writer puts everything he or she knows into the first book and because he or she is able to express it all the book, with the freshness of youth, is a success. The young writer then becomes a professional writer and continues to write books although he or she never sees or learns anything more; being too busy writing to have anything happen to himself or herself. So perhaps it is good that it is usually very hard to learn to write. About practical advice; the only practical advice that I know is to write with pen or pencil and try to have each sentence make sense, to yourself at least. If it makes sense to you, and you are honest, it will eventually make sense to some one else. If you write by hand you will write slower. Some things are written at great speed but they need to be gone over slowly." "I wrote a book called The Sun Also Rises in six weeks -- starting it on my birthday the 21st of July  in Madrid and continuing on the train to Valencia, in Valencia each day during a week of bullfights, on the train again to Madrid, on the train to Hendaye, in a hotel there and finishing it the 6th of September in Paris. I did not look at it again until I re-wrote the first half of it in Austria in December. Took a trip to N.Y. and re-wrote the last half when I came back. The re-writing took six weeks. I was never satisfied with the book but could do nothing more about it. Two short stories 'The Killers' and 'Today Is Friday' I wrote on two summer days in Madrid during the 15th of May of one year  when there was a snow storm and the bullfights were called off." A final version (which ran to 5 pages) of this letter was sent to Miss Piercy, along with a manuscript page of A Farewell to Arms ; both are at the Lilly Library (Hanneman F19 & F73). A long excerpt was printed in Modern Writers at Work , edited by Miss Piercy (New York: Macmillan, 1930). The final version is strikingly different from this present draft: there is nothing in it about the writing of The Sun Also Rises nor the two stories and Hemingway's remarks about young English novelists are in a revised form.
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