Hemingway's Love Letter to Marlene Dietrich Could Bring $30,000

John Hancock

John Hancock

2017-04-19 13:19:41

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A love letter written by Ernest Hemingway to the Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich could bring up to $30,000 at auction in New York next month.

Hemingway and Dietrich first met on a French luxury liner in 1934, and began a close relationship which lasted for more than 25 years – despite remaining unconsummated, due to what Hemingway described as "unsynchronised passion".

In the letter offered by Swann Auction Galleries, Hemingway proclaims his love for Dietrich and tries to convince her to visit him in Cuba:

"...I tried to find you in NY. And when the call came through had to shout into the phone and could not hear your lovely voice and we said goodbye like people who did not understand each other nor love each other...Please know I love you always and I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats. But it beats always."

"If you have any bad problem or if you are bad lonely would you like to come down here? Or would you like to come down here just for fun?...The pool is cool to cold, and the ocean is lovely. I will introduce you to the Old Man. Town is fun at night, all displaced gamblers."

(Image: Swann Auction Galleries)

(Image: Swann Auction Galleries)

He also talks about the secretive release of his seminal novella The Old Man and the Sea, and why he hadn't sent her an advance copy of the manuscript:

"When I decided to publish this Old Man and the Sea it was all like a military secret because of lining up the book of month, Life, Scribners and everything was on that basis. Naturally everyone gives away the secret but me. You know I would not tell you a military secret if I were in bed, or drunk or anything. So I did not send you the Mss. once it was in that secretive basis...I would rather have you read it than anyone."

The relationship between Hemingway and Dietrich was only revealed in 2007, when her daughter Maria Riva made their correspondence public, having vowed to keep the letters a secret until 15 years after her mother's death.

Many of the letters written by the pair are now housed at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, but in recent years a few have hit the open market. 

Back in October 2016, a letter from Hemingway which began "Dear Kraut", and described a strange nightclub act in which the pair would perform "drunk and naked", sold at Heritage Auctions for more than $15,000.

The Swann Auction Galleries sale takes place on May 4.

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