Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Never Seen Hemingway Photos As Teen Come To Auction

by Stephen J. Gertz

Ernie's trout
Ernest at age fourteen.

"All modern American literature comes from
one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn'"

                                                - Ernest Hemingway

A Hemingway family album containing unpublished photographs of Ernest as a teenager is featured at PBA Gelleries'  Fine Literature - Children's & Illustrated Books & Artwork auction this Thursday March 14, 2013. It is estimated to sell for $10,000 - $15,000.

Ernest, in dark shirt at left, on the cusp of high school, with family.

The album was the creation of Hemingway's younger sister, Ursula, who wrote on the flyleaf, "Ursula Hemingway, Book IV from July 1st 1913 to July 1st 1916, Eleven years 2 months to Fourteen years and 2 months old.” Within we see Ernest - here "Ernie" - at age fourteen through seventeen.

Ernest standing at left.

The photographs document the Hemingway family during the early 1910s, with images of children partying, family dinners, group images before the city house, and the Walloon Lake summer house in Northern Michigan that the family loved and that was so much a part of the Hemingway family's life.

A splash fest, and Ernest, 2d from left. Sept. 1915.
Ernest at 16, sitting far left.

There are photographs of the Hemingway grandparents, the father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, including a 1914 photograph of him with his famed “Tin Lizzie” from which he made his legendary house calls, and a wonderful image of a family Thanksgiving dinner with the Grandparents.

Ernest, standing behind his grandmother.

There are approximately twenty-one images showing young Ernest, many in group family shots, a  picture of him ala Huck Finn as a young fisherman holding his catch of trout, and playing on the waterfront in and around boats and canoes.

Ernest, at right.

A small portrait photo captures young Ernest at seventeen as a high school junior, the year he took his first journalism class and worked on the school newspaper, The Trapeze. After graduation he got a job as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. Two years after that photograph was taken he was a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy during WWI.

Ernest 2d from right.

Scattered throughout the album are numerous programs of recital, school and church events in which the Hemingway children participated, approximately twenty-five letters in envelopes or as postcards mailed to young Ursula, and approximately thirty pieces of original art by Ursula who would become an accomplished artist in her later years. 

Ernest, standing at rear.

A twelve-page holograph diary of a trip Ursula took with her mother Grace, to Nantucket in 1914, along with photographs and an original miniature watercolor presented to Ursula by the Nantucket artist Marianna Van Pelt are also included. One photograph is captioned “the 6 children taken together for the first time," complete with a smiling Ernest, and everyone in their Sunday best. 

Ernest, at right.
Ernest standing, at rear.
Ernest, at left, net fishing.

Ursula Hemingway, (1902-1966), graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota where she met her future husband Jasper Jepson. After marriage in 1925 the Jepsons settled in Honolulu where Mr. Jepson was a Vice President of the Bishop Trust. Ursula became a recognized painter and the Jepsons had one daughter. It was through this daughter's family that this Hemingway family album descended until the present.

At left, with siblings. July 13, 1915.

The album is approximately 7½x10¾”, consists of 100 pages of family memorabilia including approximately 121 original family sepia-silverprint photographs ranging in size from 2x4” to 7x8”, most are 3x5½" or period postcard size. Nearly every photograph in the album is identified in Ursula Hemingway’s hand, often to the length of a short paragraph.

A junior in high school.

It's a singular and remarkable archive that documents the early life of Ernest Hemingway and his family during their Oak Park, Illinois and Walloon Lake years.

All images by permission of PBA Galleries, with our thanks.

Some images have been cropped for publication by Booktryst.


  1. he was a good-looking young man. It's so sad that they had so many suicides in their family.

  2. These are such beautiful pictures. I hope someday to see them full-size in a coffee-table book.

  3. The woman identified here as the Grandmother was his Mother.


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