Hemingway ‘driven to suicide by the FBI’

Ernest Hemingway: The FBI had compiled a 127-page file on the Nobel Prize-winning author Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Telegraph | Jul 3, 2011

By Jon Swaine, New York

AE Hotchner said he believed the FBI’s monitoring of the Nobel Prize-winning author, over suspicions of his links to Cuba, “substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide” 50 years ago.

Hotchner wrote in The New York Times that he had “regretfully misjudged” his friend’s fears of federal investigators, which were dismissed as paranoid delusions for years after his death.

In 1983 the FBI released a 127-page file it had kept on Hemingway since the 1940s, confirming he was watched by agents working for J. Edgar Hoover, who took a personal interest in his case.

Hotchner described being met off a train by Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho, in November 1960, for a pheasant shoot with their friend Duke MacMullen.

Hemingway, struggling to complete his last work, complained “the feds” had “tailed us all the way” and that agents were poring over his accounts in a local bank that they passed on their journey.

“It’s the worst hell,” Hemingway said. “The goddamnedest hell. They’ve bugged everything. That’s why we’re using Duke’s car. Mine’s bugged. Everything’s bugged. Can’t use the phone. Mail intercepted.”

Later that month he was committed for psychiatric care at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he received electric shock treatment. He attempted suicide several times before being released.

A few days after returning home to Ketchum, he shot himself in the head with his favourite shotgun aged 61.

“In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the FBI, which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the FBI file,” wrote Hotchner, the author of ‘Papa Hemingway’.

“I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide,” he said.

2 responses to “Hemingway ‘driven to suicide by the FBI’

  1. kickin n tickin

    From Wikipedia:

    During his final years, Hemingway’s behavior was similar to his father’s before he himself committed suicide;[156] his father may have had the genetic disease hemochromatosis, in which the inability to metabolize iron culminates in mental and physical deterioration.[157] Medical records made available in 1991 confirm that Hemingway’s hemochromatosis had been diagnosed in early 1961.[158] His sister Ursula and his brother Leicester also committed suicide.[159] Added to Hemingway’s physical ailments was the additional problem that he had been a heavy drinker for most of his life.[114] Writing in “Ernest Hemingway: A Psychological Autopsy of a Suicide”, Christopher Martin evaluates the causes of the suicide: “Careful reading of Hemingway’s major biographies and his personal and public writings reveals evidence suggesting the presence of the following conditions during his lifetime: bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, traumatic brain injury, and probable borderline and narcissistic personality traits”.[160] Martin claims suicide was inevitable because Hemingway “suffered from an enormous burden of psychiatric comorbidities and risk factors for suicide”, although without a clinical evaluation of the patient, Martin concedes a diagnosis is difficult.[160]

    Burwell, Rose Marie (January 26, 1996). Hemingway: the postwar years and the posthumous novels. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48199-6.

    Martin, Christopher D. (2006). “Ernest Hemingway: A Psychological Autopsy of a Suicide”. Psychiatry 69 (4): 351–361. doi:10.1521/psyc.2006.69.4.351. ISSN 00332747. PMID 17326729.

  2. Very nice info, about time the true clear information about a topics gets answered. Good reading too!

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