The Brave and the Loving Mr Hemingway

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The uber wonderful BrainPickings has managed in one short minute to send tears racing down my face, over my throat and into my purple scarf as I read this post here about Ernest Hemingway and his beloved cats, of which he had 23 at one stage.

When one of them was hit by a car, this is the letter he wrote to his friend:

Dear Gianfranco:

Just after I finished writing you and was putting the letter in the envelope Mary came down from the Torre and said, ‘Something terrible has happened to Willie.’ I went out and found Willie with both his right legs broken: one at the hip, the other below the knee. A car must have run over him or somebody hit him with a club. He had come all the way home on the two feet of one side. It was a multiple compound fracture with much dirt in the wound and fragments protruding. But he purred and seemed sure that I could fix it.

I had RenĂ© get a bowl of milk for him and RenĂ© held him and caressed him and Willie was drinking the milk while I shot him through the head. I don’t think he could have suffered and the nerves had been crushed so his legs had not begun to really hurt. Monstruo wished to shoot him for me, but I could not delegate the responsibility or leave a chance of Will knowing anybody was killing him…

Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years. Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.


  1. I've had a very close affinity for cats for as long as I can remember, Sue (I regularly have friendly chats with any I meet), so this is very beautiful to me. Thanks:)

  2. Very moving post, Sue.  I'm not surprised though that the rugged Hemmingway was so great a cat person. My mother was a dog lover and couldn't tolerate cats and my father a cat lover, they divorced when I was very young, so I connect things masculine with cats, things feminine with dogs.  Walking the streets of New York City, you see cats in windows all the time.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Sarah.  They're like little stories in themselves.

  4. Very beautiful and very sad.  I'm glad you enjoyed it, Harry.


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