When Ernest Hemingway Spent the Summer of 1926 Quarantined With His Wife and His Mistress

Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, on their wedding day in September 1921.
Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, on their wedding day in September 1921.
John F. Kennedy Library, Ernest Hemingway Collection, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Early in the summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, was quarantined in France with their son, who had contracted whooping cough. On May 21, she wrote to her husband—who was in Spain—to inform him that she had invited a rather surprising house guest: Hemingway’s mistress, Pauline Pfeiffer.

What followed, as told by Lesley M. M. Blume for Town & Country, were several strange weeks of isolated cohabitation featuring Hemingway, Hadley, Pfeiffer, the ailing toddler, and his nurse, with special guest appearances by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

ernest hemingway with wife hadley and son bumby
Hadley, Ernest, and Jack "Bumby" Hemingway photographed in spring 1926.
John F. Kennedy Library, Ernest Hemingway Collection, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

By 1926, the Hemingways had been living in Paris for a few years already, and Hadley had recently discovered that her husband was carrying on an affair with Pfeiffer, a Vogue editor who was just as spirited and stylish as Hadley was meek and matronly. Though Hadley was not happy about the infidelity, she ultimately accepted that her husband planned to continue both relationships.

While Hemingway set off to watch bullfights in Madrid, Hadley and their 3-year-old son, Jack (nicknamed “Bumby”), moved into a lavish villa in Antibes, France, which was owned and occupied by fellow expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy. Soon, however, Bumby was diagnosed with whooping cough, and doctors advised Hadley to self-isolate with him. They, along with Bumby’s nurse, relocated to a smaller estate in Antibes, which was rented to them by yet another pair of American expats: the Fitzgeralds.

When Hadley told her husband that she had asked Pfeiffer to join them, she wrote that it would be a "swell joke on tout le monde if you and Fife and I spent the summer [together]." Pfeiffer soon appeared in Antibes, and so, too, did Hemingway himself. Astonishingly, the celebrated author found the cramped two-bedroom house to be “a splendid place to write,” and the motley crew spent most evenings having cocktail parties in the front yard with the Fitzgeralds and Murphys, who kept their distance by staying on the opposite side of the fence.

sara and gerald murphy, pauline pfeiffer, ernest and hadley hemingway in 1926
Seated around the table, from left to right, are Gerald and Sara Murphy, Pauline Pfeiffer, and Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, photographed in Spain during 1926.
John F. Kennedy Library, Ernest Hemingway Collection, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Fortunately, Bumby recovered within a few weeks, and the party migrated to a hotel. Pfeiffer didn’t detach herself in the slightest; by Hadley’s account, she often crawled into bed with the Hemingways for breakfast. But what had started out as a “swell joke” eventually proved to be too much for Hadley’s strained relationship with her husband, and the couple divorced in January 1927. Hemingway married Pfeiffer later that year (which lasted until he met another whip-smart American writer: Martha Gellhorn).

For more fascinating and occasionally scandalous details about Hemingway’s early career, check out Blume’s book Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises.

[h/t Town & Country]

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Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Why Did Noon Used to Mean 3 p.m.?

3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
Mckyartstudio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a late sleeper, you might find yourself thinking 12 p.m. seems way too early to be considered midday, and the word noon would much better describe, say, 3 p.m. It turns out that ancient Romans would have agreed with you, if only for etymological reasons.

As Reader’s Digest explains, the days in ancient Rome were split into four periods of three hours each. The first hour was at sunrise around 6 a.m.—called prime, for first—followed by 9 a.m. (terce, denoting the third hour), 12 p.m. (sext, for sixth), and 3 p.m. (none, for ninth).

According to Merriam-Webster, Middle and Old English borrowed the time-keeping tradition, along with the Latin word for ninth, which was changed to nōn and eventually noon. Though we’re not sure exactly when or why noon started referring to 12 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., it could have something to do with Christian prayer traditions. In the Bible, Jesus’s crucifixion is said to have taken place at the ninth hour, and that’s when worshippers partook in their second of three daily prayers; the others were in the morning and evening. It’s possible that hungry monks were behind noon’s gradual shift from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m.—since their daily fast didn’t end until after the midday prayer, they had a built-in motive for moving it earlier.

While we didn’t exactly stay true to the original Latin meaning of noon, there’s another important remnant of ancient Rome hiding in the way we tell time today. Romans referred to 12 p.m. as meridiem, for midday, and so do we. A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, or before midday, and P.M. means post meridiem, or after midday.

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