Here's how we ended up in Piggott, Arkansas.
If you had asked me where Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms, my first guess would have been Paris. Then Key West. Then maybe Cuba, or Pamplona, or Oak Park. The last place I ever would have guessed is Piggott, Arkansas, but it tuns out that that's where he was in for part of 1928, when he was working on the novel.
|Ernest Hemingway and Pauline Pfieffer|
Hemingway's second wife was named Pauline Pfieffer. She was a journalist who was writing for Vogue Magazine in the mid 1920s in Paris, which is where she met Ernest Hemingway. By the time they were married in early 1926, her family was living in Piggott, Arkansas.
In the summer of 1928, Hemingway and Pfieffer, who was pregnant with their first child, visited Piggott. Hemingway had written 200 pages of A Farewell to Arms and worked on the novel in the horse stables behind the house. The two of them traveled back and forth to Kansas City, where Pfieffer eventually gave birth after a difficult labor. The experience inspired the fictional miscarriage of Catherine at the end of the novel. (Spoiler!)
Renee and I traveled to Piggott on a dull, dark, and soundless day this weekend, to have a look at the house and spend the night at the Rose Dale Farms bed and breakfast. We had to check out Hemingway's studio from the outside, as we arrived too late to take a tour from the Hemingway-Pfieffer Museum. (Renee and I were once locked out of William Faulkner's home once, too, which you can read about here.) We then returned to the bed and breakfast, where, we learned, Hemingway used to visit after going on hunting excursions. He would drink bourbon there with the owner, and apparently displeased the lady of the house so much that she made him come in the back door and would not stay in the same room as him. (The house is pictured at the top of this post.)
It was a relaxing weekend, and I felt we were sharing a scene with one of my favorite writers and favorite books.
(Here's a picture of Renee outside of Hemingway's converted writing studio where he worked on A Farewell to Arms. She once wrote a guest blog explaining her frustration with the character Catherine Barkley in the book.)
|The Pfieffer house|