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.

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.

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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Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Florence’s Plague-Era Wine Windows Are Back in Business

A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.
A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.

Many bars and restaurants have started selling takeout cocktails and other alcoholic beverages to stay in business—and keep customers safe—during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 17th-century Florentines are surely applauding from their front-row seats in the afterlife.

As Insider reports, a number of buildings in Florence had been constructed with small “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, through which vendors sold wine directly to less affluent customers. When the city suffered an outbreak of plague in the 1630s, business owners recognized the value of these windows as a way to serve people without spreading germs. They even exchanged money on a metal tray that was sanitized with vinegar.

Wine not?sailko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Things eventually went back to normal, and the windows slowly fell out of fashion altogether as commerce laws evolved. This year, however, they’ve made a comeback. According to Food & Wine, there are currently at least four in operation around Florence. Osteria delle Brache in Piazza Peruzzi is using its window to deliver wine and cocktails, for example, and the Vivoli ice cream shop, a go-to dessert spot since 1929, is handing out sweet scoops and coffee through its formerly dormant aperture.

Apart from the recent resurgence of interest, the wine windows often go unnoticed by tourists drawn to the grandeur of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Cathedral. So in 2015, locals Matteo Faglia, Diletta Corsini, and Mary Christine Forrest established the Wine Window Association to generate some buzz. In addition to researching the history of the windows, they also keep a running list of all the ones they know of. Florence has roughly 150, and there are another 100 or so in other parts of Tuscany.

They’re hoping to affix a plaque near each window to promote their stories and discourage people from defacing them. And if you want to support their work, you can even become a member of the organization for €25 (about $29).

[h/t Insider]