|PAULINE PFEIFFER HEMINGWAY|
Pauline Marie Pfeiffer was born July 22, 1895, in Parkersburg, Iowa. She moved with her family to St. Louis in 1901, just in time to start first grade at the Academy of the Visitation. The move also was in plenty of time for the family to enjoy the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, which seemed to spring up out of nowhere just blocks from the Pfeiffer home.
Pauline's high school graduation from the Academy in June 1913 marked the close of another chapter in her family's life. Less than a month after graduation, Pauline moved with her family to Piggott, Arkansas. While she continued to spend summers and holidays in Piggott, she headed off, two years later, to the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she earned her degree in 1918.
After a stint on the night desk at the Cleveland Press in Ohio, Pauline found her way to New York, where she worked for the Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair and Vogue. She was heavily chaperoned by her Uncle Gus and Aunt Louise Pfeiffer who resided in New York, and considered Pauline their favorite niece.
Her flair for fashion and her writing and copy editing skills led to an offer to become assistant to the Paris editor of Vogue. At the time, she was contemplating marriage to a distant cousin, Matthew Herold, so the move was a welcome respite to give her time to think.
But in Paris, Ernest Hemingway entered her life, and she was never again the same. After meeting Ernest and Hadley Hemingway at a party in Paris in 1925, the three became friends, with Hadley becoming less and less a part of the picture. In the fall of 1926, Ernest and Pauline, now an item, agreed to a condition Hadley requested before she would agree to the divorce--that they spend 100 days apart. If at the end of that time they were still in love, Hadley would sign the papers that would set Ernest free.
Pauline returned to Piggott in mid-October to begin the separation, but about mid-November, Hadley canceled the conditions. Pauline returned to Paris in January, and she and Ernest were married on May 10, 1927, shortly after his divorce from Hadley became final.
While Hemingway biographers, and even Hemingway himself, often cast Pauline as the aggressor in the breakup of their marriage, there is ample evidence that just the opposite was true. Rather than Hemingway being a great catch when they met, he was a struggling, not-yet-famous writer--and a married man and the father of a son. Pauline was a well-educated, devout Catholic with a great job, a huge trust fund, and countless, more suitable, admirers.
Ernest's and Pauline's life together included numerous jaunts, trekking back and forth to Europe, Africa, Havana, Wyoming and Piggott, but their official residence was in Key West, where Pauline's Uncle Gus purchased a home for them in 1931. Pauline had a good eye for antiques and filled her home with fine European furniture and artwork.
Pauline remained deeply in love with Hemingway all her life and sacrificed much to be with him, including, perhaps, her own sons, Patrick and Gregory. By her own admission, she was not cut out to be a mother and was forced often into a choice of either being with Ernest or with her children. She chose Ernest, trying not to lose him, and her children were often left in the care of their nurse, their grandparents in Piggott, or their Aunt Virginia. Gregory stated publicly that he often felt abandoned as a child, and that his relationship with his mother was never a close one.
After their divorce in 1940, Pauline remained in the Key West home and opened a designer fabric, upholstery and gift business known as the Carolina Shop. She was joined in the business by her long-time friend, Lorine Thompson. She also spent considerable time in California, where she maintained an apartment in San Francisco and frequently visited her sister, Virginia Pfeiffer, at the Hollywood home she shared with Laura Archera and her husband, Aldous Huxley.
On Oct. 1, 1951, Pauline died of a brain hemorrhage while visiting her sister in Hollywood. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery.
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
1021 West Cherry Street, Piggott, Arkansas 72454
Telephone: 870-598-3487; Fax 870-598-1037
Please e-mail problems, comments and suggestions