Getting the facts straight

Getting the facts straight - A man holding a book - Author

Historian completes Hemingway chronology

All Hemingway biographies are flawed, according to historian and author Brewster Chamberlain who recently published “The Hemingway Log: A Chronology of His Life and the Times.”

Chamberlin has devoted his life to researching and writing about countries and people after retiring as director of archives from the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

“I was too busy when I was working to write,” said Chamberlin from the living room of his home in Old Town crammed with books. “I’ve published 10 books since retiring in 2001.”

Chamberlin began researching Hemingway after volunteering at the Key West Arts and Historical Society and became curious about the author after writing accompanying text for paintings on display at The Custom House.

“He turned out to be a lot more of a generous human being than I anticipated,” Chamberlin said.

Case in point: Hemingway founded and funded a baseball team in Cuba that still exists today, named after his son, called Gigi’s Allstars.

Chamberlain said the research materials consisted mostly of books and texts, but he also used the internet and photographs to determine what real events happened in Hemingway’s life. Chamberlin discovered proof that Hemingway did box, and also refereed, in a photograph.

“He was reffing a match in the building Blue Heaven is in today,” Chamberlin said.

Other Hemingway facts … aren’t. For example, the penny embedded in the cement at the Hemingway House isn’t proof of the dispute between the author and his wife, Pauline, over the cost of the pool and Hemingway’s “last cent.” Chamberlain said Pauline’s uncle paid for the pool. Chamberlain also questions the authenticity of the urinal-slash-fountain on the property.

“A woman as proper as Pauline she would never allow a urinal to be in the backyard,” he said.

Of course, Chamberlain’s book also touches on the subject of cats. Did Hemingway keep cats? Some say yes, but Chamberlain sides with the “no” faction, citing a report from Hemingway’s middle son, Patrick, who said the neighborhood was home to many strays.

Throughout the book are 800 foot notes correcting flawed information with cited sources. His research has been verified by professionals at universities, he said.

Currently, Chamberlain is working on a four-volume novel about Berlin that he started in 1980. Find out more on his website and find his books on Amazon or at the bookshop of Fleming Street.