1989 25c Literary Arts: Ernest Hemingway

# 2418 - 1989 25c Literary Arts: Ernest Hemingway

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U.S. #2418
1989 25¢ Ernest Hemingway
Literary Arts Series

  • Issued four days before Hemingway’s 90th birthday
  • Portrait based on a 1957 photo of Hemingway; background depicts running antelope to represent his stories of African hunting
  • 7th stamp in Literary Arts Series

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Literary Arts
Value: 
25¢, first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
July 17, 1989
First Day City: 
Key West, Florida
Quantity Issued: 
191,755,000
Printed by: 
American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

Why the stamp was issued:  To commemorate the 90th anniversary of Hemingway’s birth.

 

About the stamp design:  This was the first stamp M. Gregory Rudd was hired to illustrate (partway through the project, he was asked rush the Francis Ouimet stamp, which came out first).  He based his painting on a well-known 1957 photo of Hemingway in a turtleneck by Yousuf Karsh.  He also prepared several other scenes to accompany the large portrait including a bullfighting scene inspired by Death in the Afternoon and a fishing scene inspired by “The Old Man and the Sea.”  These were rejected, though the fishing scene was used on the first-day ceremony cover.  In the end, the background scene approved by the USPS pictures running antelope, representing hunting in Africa, a common theme in Hemmingway’s writing.  Rudd had at one point included Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance and two water buffalo in the foreground, but was encouraged to remove them, so Hemingway could be the main focus of the stamp.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at Hemingway’s former home, the Hemingway Home and Museum, in Key West, Florida.  A special ceremony was held four days later in Hemingway’s birthplace of Oak Park, Illinois, commemorating his 90th birthday.  The USPS provided special pictorial birthplace cancellations.

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  A few dozen horizontally imperforate vertical pairs are known to exist.

 

About the Literary Arts Series:  The Literary Arts Series began in 1979 with a John Steinbeck stamp.  (Click here to get every stamp in the series issued from 1979 to 2021.)  The objective of the Literary Arts Series is to honor America’s most renowned authors.  As the USPS put it, “These skillful wordsmiths spun our favorite tales – and American history along with them.”  The series honors both well-known and lesser-known authors, making it like an encapsulation of America’s rich and varied literary history.

 

History the stamp represents:  Author Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois.

 

Hemingway came from a well-respected family in the Chicago suburb. His mother insisted he learn to play the cello, which he later credited as useful to his writing. His father taught him to hunt, fish, and camp, giving him a life-long interest in outdoor activities.

 

In school, Hemingway participated in several sports, including boxing, track and field, water polo, and football. He did well in his English classes and submitted work for the school newspaper. He also edited the paper and the yearbook.

 

Hemingway went on to work for The Kansas City Star for six months. Though his time there was short, he used the paper’s style guide for his future writing: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.”

 

After America entered World War I, Hemingway attempted to join the US Army, Navy, and Marines but was rejected because of poor eyesight. He then answered a recruitment ad for the Red Cross and became an ambulance driver in Italy.

 

On the night of July 8, 1918, Hemingway was handing out chocolate to Allied soldiers. Suddenly an Austrian mortar shell hit their location, knocking Hemingway unconscious. The explosion buried him in the dirt and pieces of shell were embedded in his right foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand.

 

The blast also hit three Italian soldiers. Two died shortly after the blast. When Hemingway regained consciousness, he carried the third injured soldier to a nearby first aid dugout. He was further injured by machine-gun fire on the way. Hemingway forgot how he got there or that he’d carried a soldier, though the memories returned later. The Italians later awarded him a medal of valor, the Croce al Merito di Guerra, for his bravery in this instance.

 

Hemingway would spend the next six months in a Milan hospital recuperating. It was there he met and fell in love with a Red Cross nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. They were engaged, but she broke it off to marry an Italian officer, devastating Hemingway. His wartime experiences provided inspiration for several future stories, though this particular incident was influential in his popular novel, A Farewell to Arms.

 

Hemingway returned to the US at the end of World War I, married, and took a job as a journalist. Wanderlust struck again, and the couple traveled to Paris. Hemingway became a member of the “Lost Generation,” a group of expatriates that included fellow writers Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Both individuals had a profound influence on Hemingway’s writing style.

 

After his first marriage failed, Hemingway remarried and settled in Key West, Florida. He earned fame for his novels The Sun Also Rises and For Whom The Bell Tolls as his second marriage soured. Remarried to a fellow war correspondent, Hemingway covered Chiang Kai-Shek’s war against Japan, purchased a home in Cuba, and hunted German submarines during World War II. He observed the D-Day landings as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine. Hemingway was nearly court-martialed after the liberation of Paris for violating the Geneva Convention, which forbid war correspondents from carrying guns.

 

Hemingway remained in Cuba following Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Although he initially embraced the communist dictator, Hemingway left Cuba when conflicts increased. Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea. In that tale, an old fisherman suffers the loss of his greatest catch but recovers his own lost dignity in the process.

 

In his final years, Hemingway moved around frequently and was increasingly paranoid, believing (somewhat accurately) that the FBI had been keeping tabs on him. He was admitted to the Mayo Clinic twice, but ultimately killed himself on July 2, 1961. It was later revealed that he had been diagnosed with hemochromatosis, a disease in which the body is unable to metabolize iron, which leads to mental and physical deterioration.

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U.S. #2418
1989 25¢ Ernest Hemingway
Literary Arts Series

  • Issued four days before Hemingway’s 90th birthday
  • Portrait based on a 1957 photo of Hemingway; background depicts running antelope to represent his stories of African hunting
  • 7th stamp in Literary Arts Series

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Literary Arts
Value: 
25¢, first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
July 17, 1989
First Day City: 
Key West, Florida
Quantity Issued: 
191,755,000
Printed by: 
American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

Why the stamp was issued:  To commemorate the 90th anniversary of Hemingway’s birth.

 

About the stamp design:  This was the first stamp M. Gregory Rudd was hired to illustrate (partway through the project, he was asked rush the Francis Ouimet stamp, which came out first).  He based his painting on a well-known 1957 photo of Hemingway in a turtleneck by Yousuf Karsh.  He also prepared several other scenes to accompany the large portrait including a bullfighting scene inspired by Death in the Afternoon and a fishing scene inspired by “The Old Man and the Sea.”  These were rejected, though the fishing scene was used on the first-day ceremony cover.  In the end, the background scene approved by the USPS pictures running antelope, representing hunting in Africa, a common theme in Hemmingway’s writing.  Rudd had at one point included Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance and two water buffalo in the foreground, but was encouraged to remove them, so Hemingway could be the main focus of the stamp.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at Hemingway’s former home, the Hemingway Home and Museum, in Key West, Florida.  A special ceremony was held four days later in Hemingway’s birthplace of Oak Park, Illinois, commemorating his 90th birthday.  The USPS provided special pictorial birthplace cancellations.

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  A few dozen horizontally imperforate vertical pairs are known to exist.

 

About the Literary Arts Series:  The Literary Arts Series began in 1979 with a John Steinbeck stamp.  (Click here to get every stamp in the series issued from 1979 to 2021.)  The objective of the Literary Arts Series is to honor America’s most renowned authors.  As the USPS put it, “These skillful wordsmiths spun our favorite tales – and American history along with them.”  The series honors both well-known and lesser-known authors, making it like an encapsulation of America’s rich and varied literary history.

 

History the stamp represents:  Author Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois.

 

Hemingway came from a well-respected family in the Chicago suburb. His mother insisted he learn to play the cello, which he later credited as useful to his writing. His father taught him to hunt, fish, and camp, giving him a life-long interest in outdoor activities.

 

In school, Hemingway participated in several sports, including boxing, track and field, water polo, and football. He did well in his English classes and submitted work for the school newspaper. He also edited the paper and the yearbook.

 

Hemingway went on to work for The Kansas City Star for six months. Though his time there was short, he used the paper’s style guide for his future writing: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.”

 

After America entered World War I, Hemingway attempted to join the US Army, Navy, and Marines but was rejected because of poor eyesight. He then answered a recruitment ad for the Red Cross and became an ambulance driver in Italy.

 

On the night of July 8, 1918, Hemingway was handing out chocolate to Allied soldiers. Suddenly an Austrian mortar shell hit their location, knocking Hemingway unconscious. The explosion buried him in the dirt and pieces of shell were embedded in his right foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand.

 

The blast also hit three Italian soldiers. Two died shortly after the blast. When Hemingway regained consciousness, he carried the third injured soldier to a nearby first aid dugout. He was further injured by machine-gun fire on the way. Hemingway forgot how he got there or that he’d carried a soldier, though the memories returned later. The Italians later awarded him a medal of valor, the Croce al Merito di Guerra, for his bravery in this instance.

 

Hemingway would spend the next six months in a Milan hospital recuperating. It was there he met and fell in love with a Red Cross nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. They were engaged, but she broke it off to marry an Italian officer, devastating Hemingway. His wartime experiences provided inspiration for several future stories, though this particular incident was influential in his popular novel, A Farewell to Arms.

 

Hemingway returned to the US at the end of World War I, married, and took a job as a journalist. Wanderlust struck again, and the couple traveled to Paris. Hemingway became a member of the “Lost Generation,” a group of expatriates that included fellow writers Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Both individuals had a profound influence on Hemingway’s writing style.

 

After his first marriage failed, Hemingway remarried and settled in Key West, Florida. He earned fame for his novels The Sun Also Rises and For Whom The Bell Tolls as his second marriage soured. Remarried to a fellow war correspondent, Hemingway covered Chiang Kai-Shek’s war against Japan, purchased a home in Cuba, and hunted German submarines during World War II. He observed the D-Day landings as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine. Hemingway was nearly court-martialed after the liberation of Paris for violating the Geneva Convention, which forbid war correspondents from carrying guns.

 

Hemingway remained in Cuba following Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Although he initially embraced the communist dictator, Hemingway left Cuba when conflicts increased. Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea. In that tale, an old fisherman suffers the loss of his greatest catch but recovers his own lost dignity in the process.

 

In his final years, Hemingway moved around frequently and was increasingly paranoid, believing (somewhat accurately) that the FBI had been keeping tabs on him. He was admitted to the Mayo Clinic twice, but ultimately killed himself on July 2, 1961. It was later revealed that he had been diagnosed with hemochromatosis, a disease in which the body is unable to metabolize iron, which leads to mental and physical deterioration.