A New Production by Trinity Players, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 2021

“ Destiny waits in the hand of God, shaping the still unshapen: I have seen these things in a shaft of sunlight.”

Eliot. Image: HubPages

I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of T. S. Eliot, I much prefer Walt Whitman, a poet Eliot never seems to have read, or if he did, never allowed him to enter his strictly controlled literary world.

As a poet and playwright, Eliot, in the 1930s, could do no wrong, although the likes of other verse playwrights, John Drinkwater, and Christopher Fry, gave…


“ It was therefore a great relief to me to find him not only friendly to the ideals embodied in Zionism but fully conversant with the subject.”

Weizmann with Feisal 1919. Image: israelinternationalnews.com

Chaim Weizmann was born in Russia in 1874. He was the President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 1930s, and was elected the first President of Israel on the 16th of February 1949, serving until his death in 1952. He first met T. E. Lawrence in 1918. Of that meeting he has written:

“ My acquaintance with Lawrence was mainly the result of my interest in the future of Palestine and…


How to Make a Living in 1870s London

A Fine Drawing of Shaw by Joseph Simpson. Image: Fine Art of America

Frank Harris’s 1931 biography of his friend, George Bernard Shaw, is an extraordinarily absorbing read because of the close relationship (with much laughter and many disagreements) the two men enjoyed, and the subsequent success that Shaw achieved due to Harris’s ability to get and give the aspiring writer work when he arrived in London in 1876, and then only to ensure that the young, ragged-trousered Irishman, had no further part in any future development of the telecommunications industry.

Once in London, and before he met Harris, Shaw had no idea how he…


Image: The Ernest Hemingway Collection

As I’ve written previously, a new generation of editors and writers were now interested in Hemingway, and not long after George Plimpton’s interview, in May 1954, rumours started flying around that Ernest Hemingway had been nominated for the Nobel Prize. The only comments Hemingway would make to journalists was that if he did win the prize the money would come in handy, and that he’d probably buy his own Cessna 180 and “…have some real fun.” When really pushed he would say that no writer who had won the prize ever wrote “…anything worth reading afterwards…” citing William Faulkner as…


“ Somehow they managed to reach Entebbe, where they spent the night. The following day they flew low over dried and burnt - out land that suddenly became verdant, with streams and rivers that became a lake…”

Ernest & Mary, Africa 1954. Image: History News Network

1952 was the year that swept away the defeat of Across The River And Into The Trees, and a year that brought forth, from the wreckage of the Second World War trilogy, a short novel that has, along with A Farewell to Arms, and a bag full of short stories, defined Hemingway ever since.

The manuscript of The Old Man and the Sea


“ I’m trying to knock Mr Shakespeare on his ass!”

Hemingway in Cuba. Image: Pinterest — Eric Pumphrey

Early in 1949 Ernest Hemingway did manage to get Adriana out of his head long enough to do some serious work on Islands in the Stream and wrote to Charles Scribner telling him he was now hard at work again on his war trilogy, and was well into the part that covered the time he used his boat Pilar as a sub hunter. He explained to Scribner that he was now working slowly because his health wasn’t too good, especially the constant ringing in his ears. …


And Adriana Ivancich

Hemingway with Mary and Adriana. Venice 1948. Image: venetiancat.blogspot.ca

After their arrival in Genoa the Hemingways drove (they had quickly hired a chauffeur) north to Milan where they were treated like visiting royalty, with Alberto Mondadori, one of Hemingway’s publishers, assuring the author that his books had outsold any other author since the end of World War II.

“ Everyone is reading you, Ernesto, everyone from the common sailor to the nobility.”

Hemingway just smiled, hugged and kissed his jubilant publisher on the head.

Such was Hemingway’s popularity in Italy that he left all his Italian earnings in a Milan bank, using the money to finance…


Hemingway is Awarded the Bronze Star & Two Mrs Hemingways Meet

Image: ranker.com

Mary and Hemingway had the Finca to themselves in the early months of 1947 and were looking forward to Ernest’s two youngest sons arriving. But on a visit to their mother both Patrick and Gregory were involved in a car crash, and although Gregory recovered quickly Patrick began to complain of headaches. The two boys then set off to Cuba, but soon after they arrived Mary was called away to Chicago where her father had been taken seriously ill with prostate cancer.

On the morning of the 14th of…


Cuba & the US 1945/46

Erest and Mary. Image: mapmag

Christmas 1945 was a quiet affair with Ernest, Mary, and Jack exchanging presents, drinking beer, and singing carols sitting on the terrace in the hot, clear sunshine of Cuba.

Hemingway wrote every day with that clear view of the sea where the shadow of a shark could be spotted long before it reached the shore.

In January and February the Finca became a hive of activity with, as Carlos Baker described it, “arrivals and departures.” Jack left to resume his college career at the University of Montana. Guests that winter included the boxer Gene Tunney…


Hemingway starts Islands in the Stream, and invites Buck Lanham and his wife to stay

Ernest & Mary in Italy. Image: JFK Library

All Ernest Hemingway can see and hear is the death and destruction of the war. But he’s looking at it as if it were a film, and he can see himself as if from the back row of an empty cinema, and there he is up on the screen, and the film looks like one of those documentaries, and he keeps looking at the camera and smiling, but it’s not really the camera he’s looking at. …

Steve Newman Writer

Playwright, Historian, Biographer & Freelance Writer Living and Working in Shakespeare’s Stratford

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