My Archival Wanderings: Mary Hemingway

Hi Writers,
Managing Editor Kara Gebhart Uhl here—Maria and Brian are wrapped up in HTML coding right now, gussying up our new website for its upcoming launch. So I took a break from reading Your Story entries to find today’s exhibit from the WD archives, a fascinating 1972 interview with Mary Hemingway who gave up a successful journalism career when she married Ernest Hemingway. I’ve skipped around a bit in order to share with you some of the more interesting questions—and answers.
“An Afternoon With Mary Hemingway”
by Marjorie Vandervelde.
Interviewer: Didn’t you ever hesitate to give up your own writing career?
(Mary Hemingway punched the air with her cigaret-holding fist.) Women take their careers too seriously. Don’t they know it is a great privilege to give their men affection, support, admiration? These things are more important than any woman’s career.

Interviewer: What were a couple of your assignments?
Mary Hemingway: I did a cover story for Time Magazine about Winston Churchill. Later, I covered the “Blitz.”
Interviewer: Wasn’t it difficult for a girl to be covering a man’s war?
Mary Hemingway: If you mean was it a matter of flirting to get stories, let me tell you it was not. Stories cam the hard way: by using your head, working hard, and being more alert than your competition. And, by staying healthy! It took plenty of hard work to cover the Munich Agreement. And, Hitler’s march into Czechoslovakia!

Interviewer: The occasional writing you did on your own, after you were married … what did Ernest think of it?
Mary Hemingway: Ernest liked my writing. And he approved of my doing it. Of course he also approved of a wife who was, above everything else, a wife.

As a writer I think it would be extremely difficult to marry a well-known writer and give up my own career in order to support his work. (Perhaps this is why my husband is a web developer.) Yet often, the writer-writer partnership works. Check out this 2002 New York Times article, “Making Books; Two Writers Under One Roof

Are you married to a writer? Or has your partner given up their dream of writing to support your work? I’d love to know your thoughts.


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4 thoughts on “My Archival Wanderings: Mary Hemingway

  1. Marjorie Kildare

    I appreciate your response, Maria.
    Mary Hemingway further illuminates lawyer Christine Craft’s Feb. 29, 08 SFGate article "The hidden ‘ism’. Years ago, Craft spoke with Anita Hill who told her "the most disheartening turn of her righteous objection to the coronation of Clarence Thomas had been the attacks she bore from women." Hill added that "women are the last n’words, conditioned to denigrate their own kind."
    Women’s denigration from an educated journalist is worse than objectionable. Once again, I am forced to see that women are the last n-words.

  2. Kristan C.

    Thanks for posting those excerpts. Her answers are quite interesting.

    I can’t speak to your questions, as in my life it is all hypothetical. But I’m not sure I could give up writing for anything except, perhaps, children. (And even then, it might be more of a hiatus). And I’m not certain I would want anyone to give up their dreams for mine.