Hemingway Letters Project garners additional NEH support

Project receives largest grant to date from the National Endowment for the Humanities, special designation from endowment’s 'A More Perfect Union' initiative

The Hemingway Letters Project, located at Penn State, will receive an additional $450,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue its work on "The Letters of Ernest Hemingway." Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Hemingway Letters Project will receive $450,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) over the next three years to continue its work on “The Letters of Ernest Hemingway,” the authorized scholarly edition of the writer’s outgoing correspondence.

“NEH is pleased to be able to continue its support for the Letters of Ernest Hemingway project, which is bringing to light the private reflections of one of the country’s most influential writers – not only on his own life, but on the significant events of 20th-century history that he witnessed first-hand as a reporter, war volunteer and celebrated author,” said NEH Acting Chairman Adam Wolfson.

The latest funding includes a $300,000 Scholarly Editions and Translations grant; and $150,000 in matching support and special designation as part of NEH’s “A More Perfect Union” initiative, which supports projects that help commemorate the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026 by showcasing the critical role that the humanities have played throughout American history. The latest funding is the single-largest award that The Hemingway Letters Project has received from NEH to date.

“We are delighted to again receive support from the National Endowment of the Humanities for our ongoing work,” said Sandra Spanier, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Penn State and editor of the Hemingway Letters Project. “Hemingway is recognized around the world as an American icon who exemplifies the ideals of independent thinking, perseverance and courage.

“We are especially thrilled to be recognized by NEH as part of its ’A More Perfect Union’ initiative. It’s an honor to be part of an undertaking that commemorates America’s 250th anniversary by making these significant texts available to a wide audience. Hemingway’s letters are a running eyewitness account of many of the major events of the 20th century.”

Located at Penn State and published by Cambridge University Press, The Hemingway Letters Project is producing a comprehensive, fully annotated documentary edition of nearly 6,000 surviving letters written by Hemingway (1899-1961), a 1954 Nobel Laureate who is widely recognized as one of America’s most important and influential writers.  About 85% of those letters are previously unpublished.

The latest NEH grant will support the project’s work on volumes six through eight of Hemingway’s letters, specifically those written between June 1934 and 1942. Volume six will also include an appendix of earlier letters that have come to light after publication of the volumes in which they would have appeared.

“The letters of this period offer an intimate view of Hemingway’s turbulent relationship with American writer and journalist Martha Gellhorn, the end of his marriage to his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway, his taking up residence in Cuba, his marriage to Gellhorn as she pursued her career as war correspondent, and his anti-Nazi World War II intelligence work in Cuba authorized by the U.S. Embassy,” Spanier noted. “This period saw the publication of his experimental nonfiction book ‘Green Hills of Africa’ (1935), his Depression-era novel ‘To Have and Have Not’ (1937), and his Spanish Civil War novel ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (1940), in which an American abroad sacrifices his life for the cause of liberty and human dignity. The importance of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ continues to be felt to this day, as evidenced by its selection to the list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ by the Library of Congress in 2012.”

The first five volumes, published between 2011 and 2020, include letters written by Hemingway between 1907 and May 1934. An electronic edition of the previously published versions was launched in August 2020, and all volumes will be published in print and electronic form moving forward. A total of 17 volumes is planned.

Last Updated September 21, 2021