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Friday, July 21, 2023


Ernest with his secretary (and future daughter-in-law), Valerie Hemingway, at his 60th birthday party in Spain. 

This gem of a memory from the Atlantic magazine’s first rate Literary Hub blog: 

 “…On July 21, 1959, Ernest Hemingway turned sixty. To mark the occasion, his wife Mary threw him a now-legendary party, at La Cónsula, the Málaga home of wealthy American expats Bill and Annie Davis. 

Mary spared no expense—she had champagne flown in from Paris and Chinese food (fifty pounds of sweet-and-sour turkey, to be precise) flown in from London, in addition to baked hams, seafood casseroles, and a three-tiered birthday cake stuck with ninety candles—sixty for Ernest, and thirty for Carmen Ordóñez, the wife of a famous bullfighter. 

 “Guests to the lavish feast reportedly included Lauren Bacall, David and Evangeline Bruce, the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, and the Maharajah of Jaipur, as well as all of the rest of Ernest’s nearest and dearest friends. 

 “It was an absolutely magnificent party,” recalled Valerie Hemingway, who was at the time a young journalist, and who later married (and even later divorced) Ernest’s son Gregory. 

“The setting was lovely, and there were some very silly things there," Valerie said, "For instance, they set up a rifle range, and in some cases there were caricatures of people Ernest didn't like and they were used as targets. Then there was a time when I think Antonio [Ordóñez, the aforementioned famous bullfighter] had a cigarette in his mouth—it got pretty wild—and they were trying to shoot the ash from the cigarette.” 

 There were also flamenco dancers, a live orchestra, and thirty minutes of fireworks—whose sparks accidentally set a nearby palm tree ablaze. The local fire brigade was summoned; according to legend, after the firefighters quenched the tree, they joined the party. Why not?...” 

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