Public Release: 

Hemingway Letters Project receives three-year NEH grant

Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Hemingway Letters Project a three-year, $275,000 Scholarly Editions Grant to continue its work on "The Letters of Ernest Hemingway," the authorized scholarly compilation of the writer's outgoing correspondence.

Located at Penn State and published by Cambridge University Press, "The Letters" are a comprehensive collection of nearly 6,000 surviving letters written by Hemingway (1899-1961), a 1954 Nobel Laureate and someone widely recognized as one of America's most important writers. About 85 percent of those letters were previously unpublished.

"'The Letters' not only provide important new biographical information and insights into the artistic achievement of this most influential American writer, they also constitute a running eyewitness history of much of the 20th century," said Sandra Spanier, Penn State Liberal Arts Professor of English and general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project. "Unguarded and never intended for publication, Hemingway's letters track his story in real time. They record experiences that inspired his art, afford insight into his creative process, and express his candid assessments of his own work and that of his contemporaries. They also reveal a far more interesting and complex person than Hemingway's sometimes one-dimensional, tough-guy public persona would suggest."

The NEH grant will support the project's work on volumes five through seven of Hemingway's letters, specifically those written between 1932 and May 1941. The first four volumes, published between 2011 and 2017, included letters written by Hemingway between 1907 and 1931. A total of 17 volumes is planned.

Spanier directs an international team of scholars working to collect and publish the letters.

"The Letters Project has also given 20 graduate research assistants and more than 50 undergraduate interns the opportunity to have hands-on involvement in a major research project," Spanier said. "At the biennial International Hemingway Conference held in Paris last month, for example, two sessions were devoted entirely to the Letters Project and seven of our current and former graduate students gave presentations."

Spanier and Verna Kale -- who received her doctorate from Penn State and is now assistant research professor of English and associate editor of the Hemingway Letters Project -- are serving as advisers to a forthcoming PBS documentary on Hemingway directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Additional information about the Hemingway Letters Project and the previously published volumes can be found on the Hemingway Society website.

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