Ernest Hemingway Moves To Key West

The new Hemingways heard of Key West from Ernest’s friend John Dos Passos, and the two stopped at the tiny Florida island on their way back from Paris.

They soon discovered that life in remote Key West was like living in a foreign country while still perched on the southernmost tip of America. Hemingway loved it. "It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks." After renting an apartment and a house for a couple of years the Hemingways bought a large house at 907 Whitehead Street with $12,500 of help from Pauline’s wealthy Uncle Gus.

Pauline was from Arkansas—her family was wealthy and Catholic—and before their marriage Hemingway converted to Catholicism. In Paris she worked for Vogue. After a honeymoon in Grau-du-Roi, where he contracted anthrax, Hemingway settled in Paris and planned his next collection of short stories, Men Without Women, published in October 1927. By the end of the year Pauline was pregnant, and wanted to move back to America to have her baby. John Dos Passos recommended Key West; in March 1928, they left Paris. Some time that spring Hemingway suffered a severe injury in their Paris bathroom, when he pulled a skylight down on his head thinking he was pulling on a toilet chain. This left him with a prominent forehead scar, subject of numerous legends, which he carried for the rest of his life. When Hemingway was asked about the scar he was reluctant to answer. After his departure from Paris, Hemingway "never again lived in a big city".

In 1928, Hemingway moved to Key West, Florida with second wife Pauline Pfeiffer, a stylish young socialite who he and his first wife had befriended in Paris before they divorced in 1927. In the lush yard of their Spanish Colonial home, Pauline kept a pool and peacocks while Hemingway staged boxing matches.