Also slated for restoration are letters from Max Perkins, Hemingway’s editor at Scribner’s, and correspondence from writers Gertrude Stein, Walter Winchell and Martha Gellhorn, the journalist who became the author’s third wife.
World War I-era dispatches from Agnes von Kurowsky, the Red Cross nurse upon whom Hemingway based his Catherine Barkley character in “A Farewell to Arms,” also need saving from extensive mold, water and corrosive ink damage.
Handling the letters that belonged to the Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer while boxing them for transport to the lab is a task library officials undertake with a focus and reverence worthy of holy relics.
“Your heart does kind of stop,” Ms. Wrynn said in the midst of a recent boxing operation.
Among the next batch of letters that will head to the lab this fall will be four Western Union telegrams F. Scott Fitzgerald sent Hemingway from 1934 to 1937. In two of them, the writer talks about plans to visit his friend in Key West.
“Could make three day stay …. not up to anything strenuous probably result of teatotaling since January,” he messaged Hemingway from Baltimore in May 1935.
But Hemingway was busy — probably off chasing marlin.
A note on the telegram, believed to be handwritten by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, showed Fitzgerald’s suggestion was met with a return wire expressing regrets.
“Ernest in Bimini, forwarding your message, so sorry Love P,” it said.