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Friday 16 December 2011

Hemingway Gets His Corona 3 Typewriter Fixed

It was knocked over by
his ‘femme de menage’
(Wish I could get typewriters repaired with such quick, friendly service today!)
 (see below):
Hemingway Talks –
 Recordings of Papa’s Voice
I never doubted for a minute that Ernest Hemingway’s first typewriter was a Corona 3. It was just that Hemingway was photographed so many times using Royals, and there was also that Halda mentioned in a previous post. I have yet to come across a photograph of Hemingway with his Corona 3.
But my interest in this was yet again excited when the latest edition of Vanity Fair appeared last month. The main photograph (above) in an article about Hemingway includes a Corona 3 and the caption reads: “IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST - Ernest Hemingway’s Corona at the Finca Vigía, in Cuba, photographed by Julian Broad. (Hemingway generally preferred a Royal.).”
I went hunting once more and came across the writings of Diane Gilbert Madsen, with whom I could not agree more. Big Hem banging away at a little Corona 3 isn't a pretty thought, yet what else could Hadley Richardson have bought him in 1921? He would have crunched an Underwood 3 and a Remington or a Blick might have tried his patience:
However Madsen, I suspect, makes the same mistake as Charles Gu at, in saying the Halda was sold at auction. To the best of my knowledge, it is still available, at the original asking price of $100,000. Gu claims that Hemingway used, “Corona No 3 and No 4, Underwood Noiseless Portable, various Royal portables, Halda portable (recently sold in an online auction).”
Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s most exhaustive and exhausting biographer, included the details later used by Madsen in his 1969 book Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. The Corona 3 was given to Hemingway by Hadley on July 21, 1921.
Also, Kenneth S. Lynn in Hemingway (1987) wrote:
My own contribution to all this is rather amusing. Many years ago, when I started collecting typewriters, I determined I had to have a Blickensderfer (to feel authentic about being in this crazy pursuit). But more urgently, I needed a local typewriter repairman. I found one in the Yellow Pages, a very unpleasant individual called Ken.
On taking some machines to Ken, and promising him a lot more business (“It’ll cost you,” he kept telling me when I took jobs to him. “You’ll be paying for all my weekends away.”) I spotted a New Zealand Typewriter Company Blickensderfer 7 on display. I politely asked if Ken would sell it to me. “I would be if you had that sort of money,” this presumptuous old bugger declared. “But you can’t afford $100,000.”
I couldn’t, still can’t, never will – but that wasn’t the point. First, even then I knew it was worth at best one 100th of that price, probably closer to one 500th. But worse still was the assumption I couldn’t afford it. I started buying many Blicks – about 27 in all, from auctions in Chicago, and from Britain and New Zealand.
And lo and behold, up on eBay came a T-shirt for sale in the US: “I’ll show you my Blickensderfer if you show me yours” it said. I had to have one, and not only have it, but wear it proudly into Ken’s shop!
Anyway, out of my dealings about Blick T-shirts, the US maker-seller asked if I had any other ideas for typewriter T-shirts. I immediately suggested the alleged and oft-quoted Hemingway statement: "The only psychiatrist I would ever submit to is the Corona 3." The maker-seller thought this a wonderful idea and for my suggestion I got a free T-shirt from him. I thought the design was woeful, and I take no credit for that whatsoever, but it seemed like a good idea at the time …
And from it came my yearning to get absolute confirmation that Hemingway did own a Corona 3. Thus the Vanity Fair issue came as a Godsend, for quite aside from the image of the Corona, it contained some previously unpublished letters from Hemingway. One of these, written to his mother Grace from Paris on February 14, 1922 (when Hemingway’s Corona was a mere seven months old) read:
“My Corona typewriter is being repaired. The femme de menage knocked [it] off my writing table while she was cleaning and I don’t get it until tomorrow.”
In the same letter, added to the next day, Hemingway wrote (on his Corona), “Got the typewriter today again … Tomorrow I’m getting four stories off to the [Toronto] Star and will have to work hard all day.”
As a newspaperman who this week celebrated 46 years in the industry, I especially liked a letter Hemingway wrote to his father, Clarence, from Toronto on April 16, 1918, when he still 18:
“To take a story over the phone and get everything exact, see it all in your mind’s eye, rush over to a typewriter and write it a page at a time while ten other typewriters are going and the boss is hollering at someone and a boy snatches the pages from your machine as fast as you write them. How long would a lot of people I know last at that before going wild?
A previously published letter (to Hemingway's father from Paris on May, 1922), in Baker's Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 (1981), contains another reference to the Corona:
As promised, here are recordings of Hemingway talking. Please be warned Poem for Mary and Billings, Montana, contain some very course language, not to mention some course references in the latter. Also, these two have a lot of static and distortion in the original recording – it’s not the result of my conversion to MP3s.
The sleeve notes are self-explanatory. The order I have placed these in is:
1. This is Ernest Hemingway (just those words).
2. Nobel Prize acceptance speech (2min 1sec).
3. Work in Progress (Islands in the Stream?)(7min 38sec)
4. Fifth Column (4min 34sec)
5. Poem to Mary (12min)
6. Harry’s Bar (8min 10sec)
7. Billings, Montana (6min 19sec)
Here they are:
Finally, an amusing letter from J.D.Salinger to Hemingway:
Not my own work, I promise!


maschinengeschrieben said...

Very interesting, amazing post. Nice Corona 3 he had.

Bill M said...

Very interesting post. I wondered what typewriter(s) Ernest Hemingway used. The audio clips are great.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Bill and maschinengeschrieben. Bill, I am so pleased and relieved to read that you listened to and enjoyed the Hemingway readings. I went to some lengths, as I'm sure you can imagine, to make those finally available, so I do hope other followers and casual visitors to the blog get something out of them. I find them all quite fascinating

Richard P said...

Here's a new story about Hemingway's Corona:

Anonymous said...

Great Post for a great Typewriter.
In case someone is interested, a Corona 3 Typewriter font:

Alek said...

Great post Rob!
In case someone is interested, a Corona 3 Typewriter font:

@labradax said...

How is Hemingway's the Corona #3 in Cuba authenticated? According to an article they assume it is the typewriter only by matching serial numbers to the date of production?

Robert Messenger said...

It's not his Corona 3, which was smashed by a cab driver outside a train station in Paris in the early 20s. See later posts, in particular on latest EH movie.

JP Miller said...

When I went to the Key West house and to his separate writing room, I saw an Underwood portable. Very small. I believe this typewriter was carried around Europe, NYC and Cuba then ended up in Key West. I believe he wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls" on this typewriter. Its small and light and would be perfect for carrying to all the places he wrote the Novel.