Ernest Hemingway survived 2 plane crashes. His letter from it just sold for $237,055

From National Public Radio:

A few months after Ernest Hemingway and his wife survived two plane crashes in two days while on safari in Africa, he wrote a letter to his lawyer full of grisly details about his injuries — with the bravado that marked both his novels and his life. Now, that letter has drawn 12 bids at auction and ultimately sold for $237,055.

Hemingway wrote the letter in April 1954. At the time, he explained to his attorney, Alfred Rice, why he’d asked others to “give you the word” on his injuries from the crashes a few months earlier, in January.

“Couldn’t write letters much on acc’t of right arm which was burned to the bone 3rd degree and it would cramp up on me (still does a little but all burns ok),” he wrote. He says his right kidney ruptured and his liver and spleen were injured.

“I am weak from so much internal bleeding. Have been a good boy and tried to rest,” the letter read.

Hemingway’s wife, Mary, also suffered. “Mary had a big shock and her memory not too hot yet and it will take quite a time to sort things out,” he explained.

The couple had been sightseeing in Uganda when their Cessna “cracked up,” as the Associated Press reported at the time. Hemingway said the pilot had dived to avoid hitting a flying flock of ibises and, as a result, had been forced to land. The group camped overnight in the remote jungle.

Then the next day their rescue plane caught fire, forcing the passengers and pilot to scramble out.

When the couple finally emerged after a 170 mile automobile ride, the AP reported that Mary was limping and Hemingway’s head and arm were bandaged. But Hemingway was “carrying a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin” and “appeared to be in high spirits as he shrugged off the crashes.”

Likewise, in the letter to his lawyer Hemingway insisted “everything is fine here.”

He sprinkles the details of his injuries amid more urgent seeming matters, asking his lawyer to pay a bill he never received, and said he hoped “the dept or Bureau will understand” that his receipts for the trip had burned in the second crash. He was on assignment for Look Magazine.

“Tell the Dept. that I am more valuable to them alive than dead and at present am trying [to] stay alive and get fit to produce,” he quipped.

Link to the rest at National Public Radio

1 thought on “Ernest Hemingway survived 2 plane crashes. His letter from it just sold for $237,055”

  1. Concussions can be brutal. The one I got when a drunk driver ran me down left me confused for weeks. It is incredible to think that in his life Hemingway sustained at least nine of them. His final concussion, from that second airplane crash, was what really took it out of him mentally. He was never the same writer again.

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