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The Curse of the Hemingways

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The Curse of the Hemingways


“Can someone be predisposed to be suicidal?” That is the question that plagues many Hemingway scholars, and indeed it seems that it exists in the Hemingway lineage. Ernest Hemingway’s family tree is dotted with suicides and sudden tragic deaths, too many occurrences for one to merely disregard such tragedies as coincidence. Some believe that there exists the so- called “curse of the Hemingways,” a way to explain the many deaths within the Hemingway family due to drug overdose or self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Ernest’s case is the most well known, but suicide also struck his father, sister, brother, son, and granddaughter.

The suicides among Ernest’s parents and siblings family are numerous. Clarence Hemingway, Ernest's father, killed himself in 1928. Clarence was fervently religious, providing much of Ernest’s moral education in his younger years. However, Clarence battled depression and diabetes, and in the end shot himself in the head on December 6, 1928. Ernest’s closest younger sister, Ursula, suffered from cancer and bouts of depression, and killed herself in a drug overdose on October 30, 1966. Ernest’s brother Leicester was the youngest in the family, the only other male after Clarence’s sudden death. He was a writer like Ernest, but depression and diabetes gripped him and Leicester shot himself on September 15, 1982, after finding out he needed to amputate his legs.

The rest of Ernest Hemingway’s family also has had a share of sudden deaths and suicides. Ernest’s second wife, Pauline Pffeifer Hemingway, died suddenly of abdominal pain and internal bleeding. He had lived with her for 13 years and had two children together, Gregory and Patrick. Gregory Hemingway lived a tragic, wretched life. Accused by Ernest of killing his mother by leaving for California, he fought verbally with Ernest until Ernest’s own death. Gregory never recovered from the guilt he felt for his father’s death; he suffered from bouts of depression and ultimately had a sex change operation, becoming Gloria Hemingway. He died from heart failure in a jail cell on October 1, 2001. Hemingway’s eldest granddaughter Margaux died from a drug overdose on July 1, 1996. Margaux was an actress who started her career with much hype, but it never panned out, often living in the shadow of her sister Mariel, who was much better received as an actress. Margaux suffered from depression, epilepsy, an eating disorder, and alcoholism.

The most famous of the Hemingways, Ernest Hemingway, shot himself in 1961. He had suffered his whole life with insecurity, depression, and alcoholism. He was very close to his father, and when he died, Ernest was very gravely struck. Ernest’s whole life was filled with pain and trauma: his service in World War I caused him to be hit by a mortar, damaging his legs and his head; he suffered through two plane crashes during the same trip, one where he suffered crushed vertebrae, damage to his spleen, one kidney, and a concussion. His excessive alcohol drinking also gave him cirrhosis of the liver. Paranoid that the FBI was out to destroy him and that his friends wanted to kill him, in addition to the alcoholism that struck his life, he was admitted into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, where once discharged, placed a shotgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. Ernest died on July 2, 1961.

The tragic “curse of the Hemingways” represents all of the suicides, the horrifically depressed, indulgent, wretched lives that plague the Hemingway clan. Ernest’s father, sister, brother, granddaughter, son, wife, and ultimately himself, all perished from this supposed “curse.” One cannot say if it really exists or not, but it would go a long way in explaining the history of the Hemingway lineage.

Annotated Bibliography

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/books/1999/hemingway/stories/biography/part2/index.html- I took from this site the date and cause of death of Clarence Hemingway, Ernest’s father.

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/books/1999/hemingway/stories/biography/index.html - I took from this site the date and causes of death for Leicester, Ursula, and Pauline Hemingway.

http://www.timelesshemingway.com/familytree.shtml This site contained the family tree of the Hemingways.

http://www.cvc3.org/modelcourses/mrogoff/Macomber.html#SUICIDE%20IN%20THE%20HEMINGWAY%20FAMILY: This site listed the members of the Hemingway family that committed suicide.

http://www.advocate.com/html/stories/851/851_hemingway.asp -This site had information concerning Gregory Hemingway’s life and death.

http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9608/20/hemingway.suicide/ This site had information on Margaux Hemingway.

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/Aficionado/people/fa899.html This site contained the most information on Ernest of any other website, where I gleaned the history of his accidents and his alcoholism.

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