HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Series of eight letters: six autograph letters signed and two typed letters signed (one "Ernest Hemingway," one "EH," most "Papa"), the TLS with a lengthy autograph postscript by Hemingway, all to Katherine ("Kit," or "Kitty") and Lawrence Figgis, various places: Nairobi, Kenya, Venice, San Francisco de Paulo, Cuba and elsewhere. Various dates from 3 February 1954 to 24 September 1954. Together 12 pages on 10 sheets, 4to and small 4to, one ALS in pencil (the others in blue fountain-pen ink), two on Finca Vigia imprinted stationery, several on stationery of the Gritti Palace Hotel, Venice. [With:] HEMINGWAY, Mary. One autograph and two typed letters signed ("Mary H." and "Mary Hemingway"), both with autograph additions, to Mrs. Figgis, Niyali Beach and n.p.,15 February and March 9 . 2 pages, 4to. Together 10 items. Quarter blue morocco gilt-lettered slipcase.
HEMINGWAY'S NEARLY FATAL 1954 AFRICAN SAFARI
An unpublished series of letters to Kit and Lawrence Figgis in the aftermath of the famous 1954 safari in Uganda in which Ernest and Mary Hemingway were slightly injured in two small plane crashes in the bush. The safari and its eventful, nearly fatal conclusion Hemingway immediately reworked into an two-part article "The Christman Gift" for Look magazine.
21 February 1954, from Nairobi: "This is to certify that I owe Catherine and Larry Figgis 5..of whatever money I receive from the sale of the magazine article entitled 'The Christmas Gift,' and I am grateful for their assistance without which I could not have written this article." The article, "The Christmas Gift," was published in two issues of Look magazine (April 20, May 4, 1954). In the first crash, Mary Hemingway suffered several broken ribs; the next day, a second aircraft they were in caught fire and made a rough forced landing. In the crash and in breaking out a window with his head, Hemingway suffered burns, various internal injuries and, it later turned out, a fractured skull. He was hospitalized in Nairobi, where he had the novel experience of reading his own premature obituary in the newspapers. It appears that Katherine and Larry Figgis became friends with the Hemingway's at that time; Katherine evidently helped in the transcription and perhaps typing of the Look article and Ernest was godfather to one of their children.
2 March 1954: "...Look will pay 20,000 (not Pounds, miserable dollars) for the piece if it is up to my 'usual standard.' Maybe it won't be....Miss Catherine I can never thank you enough for helping me so much when things were not too easy"
17 March 1954: He details the doctor's list of his injuries from the two crashes and the brush fire: "Major concussion, damage liver, collapse of intestines, Paralysis sphincter, > lost sight in one eye (left) (never any good anyway), Burns head, Brush fire = burns on lips (light), left hand severe, right forearm ditto, abdomen (light), legs (Light). Am beating all raps OK..." His account of the safari has been accepted: "1st installment in Look April 20 on the newsstands..."
4 April 1954, from Venice: "Have gotten very conservative and go to the Club. Dukes are just permitted. It is the nicest club I know and old members call it the Pig Sty. You have to wait about 50 years to get in but I got in young on acct my military and religious merit. Some non-members doubt my religious merit. Very old members hint darkly that if the truth were ever known Ernest would be a saint as his ancestor was...." He adds that "I Get awfully homesick for Emaili...area. Maybe next time can get you and Larry out there. Keep the spears oiled and soaked, the pig hide scabbards in cod liver oil. But am still awfully homesick. But the spears help some..." He reminisces about Wyoming and people he knew there: "The boy Gerald who has the title now I remember when he was the jolliest, freckled devil you could imagine. He was a really worthless character and he turned into a hell of a good man...I was a sort of a bad boy...and would go to the Crow Reservation and trade eagle tails (they make the real war bonnets from them) for a young squaw and a couple of ponies...." He reminds Figgis that the article will be published soon: "Daughter the piece should be on the stands April 6. 10g should have been deposited and 10g on publication, But have had no signals yet. As soon as I have will fire off the 5 check and Roy's 5" (Roy Marsh was the pilot of the aircraft).
24 April 1954: "All burns OK Doc. Percival would probably doubt ever was burned. Not to mention that gal from Life. Tell this to Roy and Harry. It's sort of comic. Turns out what I had was a small fracture. Two places..." In the letter of 25 August 1954 (dictated to Mary at the typewriter), Hemingway gives detailed instructions to be passed to a taxidermist: "The more important items are: "The black-maned lion killed at Kimai Swamp in December. The impala killed at Selengai in September, to be head-mounted with cape. The lesser Kudu killed at Magadi in October, to have skull and horns mounted on wooden plaque. There is, of course a lot of other stuff, including two Oryx, a leopard, wildebeest, kongoni, Gerenuk, etc. which we hope to have eventually...."