Monday, October 17, 2016

New Hemingway-Related Collection in Clarke

by Frank Boles

Portrait of Marjorie Bump, ca. 1916
On October 16, at the annual meeting of the Michigan Hemingway Society in Petoskey, the organization permanently loaned to the Clarke approximately one linear foot of material documenting Marjorie Bump’s relationship with Ernest Hemingway. Ms. Bump was a local Petoskey girl who met Ernest Hemingway in 1915. Her first name is given to the female protagonist in the Nick Adams short story, “The End of Something,” published in 1925.

After Hemingway’s death in 1961, Don St. John undertook a project to interview individuals who had known Hemingway to obtain first-hand accounts about the author. One of the people he contacted was Marjorie, by then known as Marjorie Main. Between 1965 and 1974, the two corresponded extensively. That correspondence now joins a bevy of resources related to Hemingway in Michigan found in the Clarke.

Georgianna Main, the daughter of Marjorie, wrote of her mother’s recollections about Hemingway in Pip-Pip For Hemingway (Bloomington, Ill.: iUniverse, 2010). The accounts found in Pip-Pip and in these papers are not consistent. For example, In Pip-Pip Georgianna reports her mother was taught to fish by Hemingway. In her recollection to St. John, Marjorie says she never went fishing with Ernest.

For a quick summary of the scholarly literature regarding Marjorie visit Project Muse, which reproduces a 2014 book review of Pip-Pip written by Matthew Nickel and first published in The Hemingway Review.

Before her death, Marjorie Main destroyed the correspondence with Hemingway she possessed. Thus, it is likely scholars will have a difficult time deciding if Marjorie chose to tell her daughter stories she thought Georgianna wished to hear or, if recounting events to St. John more than a half-century after they occurred, the inevitable tricks of memory led Marjorie to recall things in a way that differed from what had actually happened so long ago.

The Michigan Hemingway Society and the Clarke Library have worked together for more than a decade to document Ernest Hemingway’s life in Michigan. The relationship has been one that has benefited both organizations and we in the Clarke are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work continually with the Society to find new information (with a Michigan twist) about one of the 20th century's most important authors.