Grace Hall Hemingway (1872-1951)


It’s “G” Day in the A to Z Challenge and my theme is Ernest Miller Hemingway (EMH).


–Grace Hemingway with her painted portrait of her son, Ernest Miller Hemingway

Grace Hall married her neighbor from down the street growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, Clarence Hemingway. Grace had been an aspiring opera singer and Clarence was a doctor. Together they had six children, one of whom was EMH. As a family, they spent summers in northern Michigan where Clarence taught his son how to hunt and fish. Grace introduced music to her children and they had recitals in their home in Oak Park, Illinois. Later, after EMH lived in Europe and was then settled in Florida, Clarence had made some bad investments in Florida real estate. He also suffered from diabetes and depression and in 1928 he killed himself with his father’s Civil War pistol. After Clarence’s death, Grace took up painting and is purported to have painted more than 600 works. She used proceeds from the sale of some her paintings to pay taxes on the family’s house in Oak Park. Later, Grace learned how to drive and took painting trips. She and Ernest always had a contentious relationship but he took care of his mother financially. EMH established a trust for Grace that eased some financial pressure due to EMH’s father’s suicide and debts. Grace died in 1951 (the same year as Pauline Pfeiffer, EMH’s second wife and the mother of two of his sons).


–Grace, Clarence, Marcelline, and Ernest at Windemere Cottage in northern Michigan


–The Hemingway family (2 children still to come). EMH is on the far right with the bowl haircut.

I believe Grace Hemingway was an exceptionally interesting person. I love that she painted and taught her children about music and art. She bristled under the restrictions imposed on women in her time. She was a very strict mother, but I believe she loved all six of her children very much. She wrote Ernest and belittled The Sun Also Rises because of some of the subject matter. She and Clarence were religious Midwesterners and were most likely taken aback by the life that EMH lead and by some of his writings.  Being outspoken, Grace probably went too far at times, which caused EMH to say some nasty things about her. But being his mother who raised him, EMH probably inherited her love of the arts, music, and literature as well as her creativity and wish to express herself via these arts.


–Scrapbook picture courtesy of Grace Hall Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway Collection/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Grace created and updated scrapbooks for all of her children. Above are a couple of pages from EMH’s that Grace so dedicatedly kept.

You can view some paintings of Grace Hall Hemingway and a nice article by one of her grandsons, John E. Sanford,  by clicking HERE.

  6 comments for “Grace Hall Hemingway (1872-1951)

  1. April 8, 2016 at 4:51 AM

    Such an interesting post, Denise!

    • April 8, 2016 at 7:59 AM

      Thanks, Martha. This short post just skims the surface of EMH and his relationship with his mother.

  2. April 8, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    A great artist herself. Women like her, having lived in such restrictive time for women, must’ve been hard. She seemed to have been a great influence. Thanks for this, Denise.

    • April 8, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      Yes, from what I read, her husband was very passive on most matters and Grace was the dominant parent. Grace was probably more influential than EMH would ever care to admit!

  3. Shilpa Garg
    April 9, 2016 at 12:23 AM

    That was interesting and insightful. Was not aware about EMH’s parents. Thanks for sharing!
    I am visiting from the A to Z Challenge Co-host’s Team. Hope you are having a great time reading, writing and networking with co-participants of the A to Z Challenge. Cheers 🙂
    Co-Host AJ’s wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2016

    • April 9, 2016 at 7:10 AM

      Thank you for stopping in, Shilpa. Yes, having a great time and learning much from the other participants. Cheers, Denise

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