Ernest Hemingway and Key West Florida

One of Key West's most famous residents was the literary legend Ernest Hemingway. Upon visiting the island of Key West Florida in the early 20th century, Hemingway instantly fell in love the ambiance of the island, being drawn to the island's unique feel that makes you feel like you are in a completely different country while still within the United States. Some of the things that drew Hemingway to Key West was the amazing offshore fishing, the laid-back drinking culture at the bars, the friendly but quirky residents of the island, and the year-round balmy tropical weather and warm breezes that gently caress the island on any given day.

Moving to Key West Florida

When Hemingway first came to Key West, him and his wife Pauline rented an apartment and then a house for a few years. Immediately, it is said that Hemingway started his writing routine in Key West which was to wake up in the early morning hours and write for a few hours while the temperature was the most cool, taking the afternoon hours to explore the island of Key West. It was during these years, and later during the years spent in the house purchased for the Hemingways located on Whitehead Street, that Hemingway is known to have written much of his classic novel, A Farewell to Arms. The house was purchased in 1931 and Hemingway is known to have owned the house until is death in 1961. Today, much of Hemingway's own interior design is present in the house, including antique furnishing form Europe and the pool that was paid for by Hemingway himself.

Ernest Hemingway in Key West

While living in Key West, Ernest Hemingway certainly took full advantage of everything the torpical island had to offer. He became a frequent customer of bars in the Downtown area close to his house, including the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar, whose owner (Joe Russell) Hemingway became very close to. Together with Russell and Charles Thompson (another close Key West friend of Hemingway who he met while renting an apartment above Thompson's hardware store), the three Key West residents would frequently be seen together at bars and they would go on many fishing adventures to areas all over the waters of Key West, including areas as far out as the Dry Tortugas. The three became known as "the Key West Mob." Legend has it that many of the people that Hemingway met while in Key West were inspiration for the characters in his later novel, To Have and Have Not, which is a novel about depression-years Key West.

The Hemingway House and Museum

While many writers and other artists have been attracted to and lived in Key West Florida throughout the 20th century, none of them reached the level of influence that Hemingway had on Key West, nor did they gain the close association with the southernmost island that Hemingway had. Hemingway loved Key West and was vocal about his admiration for the small island. Today, the Hemingway legacy is very much present in Key West, particularly through his former house on Whitehead Street which has been turned into a museum and is open to the public for daily walking tours. In the house, you will get to go on a narrated tour where you will learn more about Ernest Hemingway and his time spent in Key West. You will also see the nearly sixty cats that live in the house, each with their own name giving tribute to early 20th-century cultural icons such as Joan Crawford, Gertrude Stein, Charley Chaplin, Harry Truman and Simone de Beauvoir. Many of these cats are descendants of Hemingway's own six-towed cat (called polydactyl cats), which was given to him by one of Key West's ship captains. To find tickets for the Hemingway House and Museum tour, check out the Old Town Attractions section on Best On Key West.