Ernest Hemingway first started frequenting Cuba in the 1920s, when he was living just across the straits in Key West, the southernmost of the islands on the tip of the U.S. state of Florida. He moved to Cuba with his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, in 1940 and lived there until 1960.
The rambunctious American writer genuinely loved Cuba, and it showed in his writing. The country was often the backdrop of his literature, particularly “The Old Man and the Sea.”
All his haunts have now become tourist stops in Cuba – starting with the Floridita bar he used to frequent in Havana, to his farm Finca Vigia that now lies on the edge of the expanding city, to the little fishing village of Cojimar where he kept his boat. Finca Vigia is now a museum with Hemingway's library of 9,000 books, stuffed animal heads and the typewriter he used to compose many of his masterpieces.
Images of Cuba form part of the Library’s archive of photographs from Carol M. Highsmith. Highsmith, a distinguished and richly published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, she provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright-free access also makes the archive a very special visual resource.
The cities, towns and countryside of 21st-century America, and the life of its people, are also being documented by Highsmith. The first state she photographed was Alabama, where she spent four months earlier in 2010. She has been shooting Washington, D.C., and she will continue to photograph the country, state by state, completing the project in approximately 16 years.
In 1999, the Library received a major private collection of original manuscripts, letters, photographs, recordings, and films of Hemingway. The November 1999 issue of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin featured a story on the donation.
In February 2010, Yolanda Barcina, mayor of Pamplona, Spain, presented a lecture titled “Hemingway in Pamplona,” which was later made into a webcast. Hemingway came to Pamplona for the first time, traveling from Paris, in 1923, in the full swing of the Fiesta of San Fermin. The atmosphere in the city and, particularly, the bullfights, made such an impression on him that he chose the fiesta as the backdrop to his first successful novel, "The Sun Also Rises,” published three years later.