For the first 22 years of his life, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning Ernest Hemingway spent his summers exploring the woods and waters of Walloon Lake, Horton Bay, Petoskey and the neighboring communities of Northern Michigan. It was here he discovered his love of fishing, hunting and writing, and it was here where many of the scenes and characters for his future works would be shaped—most notably, those of Nick Adams.
Literary and history buffs are quick to reference Chicago, Paris, Spain, Cuba, Key West and Ketchum as locales where Hemingway made an impact. Yet, it was Northern Michigan which held what some consider the most treasured place in the author’s heart. Except for a single night in 1947, when he was passing through Michigan on his way west, Hemingway never saw this region again after his September 1921 marriage in Horton Bay to Hadley Richardson.
“Hemingway had a very special place in his heart for Northern Michigan. The memories and images in his mind found their way into his works throughout his life, even when the stories were set in other locales around the world,” says Chris Struble, president of The Michigan Hemingway Society. “He remarked to his sister, Ursula, in a letter from 1943 that his time here was the clearest part of his life. But life changed him and he was afraid that if he came back, it wouldn’t be the place he remembered and he couldn’t risk losing what he had known and loved.”
The Michigan Hemingway Society is once again hosting its annual literary and history conference, October 6–8 at the Terrace Inn in the Northern Michigan Chautauqua community of Bay View. Founded on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1875, Bay View has maintained its historic buildings, homes and charm. Hemingway was very familiar with this community when he lived in Petoskey for that last time. Throughout the weekend, attendees will tour some of the old Victorian buildings and cottages, explore the architecture and learn the detailed history of the community. There is a plan for a special event on Sunday afternoon with attendees re-creating an infamous party that Hemingway attended in one of the Bay View cottages.
This year’s keynote speaker is Steve Paul, the author and editor of several books including Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year that Launched an American Legend, due out this fall.
Paul recently retired from the editorial board of The Kansas City Star after 41 years. Starting out on the city desk, he was a longtime arts and culture editor, book critic, special assignment writer, projects editor and writer, mentor and coach to young writers and teachers, and producer of high-profile feature stories on culture, music, architecture, books, people and the city, as well as being the co-owner of a bookstore.
Hemingway himself started his writing career at The Kansas City Star. After graduating from Oak Park River Forest High School in 1917, he left the culturally-rich environment there in the Chicago suburbs as well as the freedom of summers in Northern Michigan when he moved to Kansas City to become a journalist. If all his trips to Kansas City were added together, he lived and worked in that town for a little more than a year—the longest stay, for six months, was when he was a cub reporter from October 1917 until April 1918.
From there he joined the Red Cross as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, returning the following year to the United States and finally Petoskey as a wounded and decorated war veteran. He then married his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in Northern Michigan and the two moved to Paris. While there, Hemingway began freelancing for the Toronto Star, writing fishing sketches, before becoming a foreign correspondent.
The cost to attend this year’s Michigan Hemingway Conference is $180 for members and $220 for non-members. The fee includes the Friday evening reception, heavy hors d’oeuvres and program at the Terrace Inn; Saturday breakfast (for overnight guests of the inn), programs and dinner with keynote speaker Steve Paul; Sunday breakfast (for overnight guests of the inn), programs and society business meeting. Lunch is not included on Saturday or Sunday but is available from the inn’s menu. Registration is available online. A late registration fee of $30 will apply after September 15.
Membership in the Michigan Hemingway Society is $20 per calendar year for an individual, $30 for a family (two adults at the same address) or $10 for students. Benefits include a reduced fee for the annual MHS weekend conference, a printed copy of the MHS newsletter and periodic email updates of MHS news. If you are not a member of the Michigan Hemingway Society for 2017, join online now.
The Michigan Hemingway Society has been active since 1983 and was incorporated officially as a non-profit organization in 1993. Made up of university professors, writers, high school teachers, fly fishers, journalists and all kinds of other people who are interested in exploring the life and body of literature created by this Nobel prize-winning author, The Michigan Hemingway Society’s group volunteer energies have been focused ad hoc, on such events as its annual Hemingway weekend, the membership newsletter and maintaining the organization’s website and Facebook page.