As soon as we decided to book our recent trip to Florida, I made plans to visit the home of two legends: Mickey Mouse and Ernest Hemingway! I’m reporting back to tell you that neither disappointed. Of course, Disney is the happiest place on earth, but as a writer, my literary-geeky-self fawned and fangirled over every detail at the infamous Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum—including the sixty-one curious cats…



Writer or not, American or not, I’ll wager you’ve heard of THE Ernest Hemingway—maybe even read one or more of his classic books along the way. The light and airy house, which is now a museum complete with all sorts of original memorabilia (and curious cats) is gorgeous. I could almost see him wondering the halls, grabbing a snack, then shuffling back to his writing studio to pen his next masterpiece.



The Key West home was built in 1851 in the Spanish Colonial style, and Hemingway lived there from 1931-1939 along with his second wife, Pauline, and their two young sons, Patrick and Gregory. The gardens are stunning, especially in this delightfully warm climate (I was not sad to leave Canada in frigid January!) and I could imagine how inspirational this place would be for Ernest as an author.



Going into this tour, I knew little about the man other than his writing prowess, love of fishing and women, and that he lived in Paris with wife number one. There was plenty of devastation in his life though; he was horribly wounded in WWI, he battled with alcoholism, depression, and mental illness for decades, and his father committed suicide. Hearing the details, walking his gardens, seeing his writing studio and his typewriter, somehow put flesh and blood on this legend. He worked hard at his craft. He left us the gift of story.



“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

So, the cats. Totally bizarre. There are currently sixty-one of them casually roaming the house and beautiful gardens, but they estimate Hemingway had at least a hundred when he lived there. Quite the catman. I guess when you’re Hemingway, no one’s going to argue. But the cats were his “lucky charms” so to speak. Especially the six-toed ones…



I know, it gets better and better. Cats with six toes (polydactyls, it’s a thing) were really thought to be lucky, and back in the day, Hemingway was gifted Snow White, a white six-toed kitty, by a ship’s captain. Apparently, Hemingway believed he needed all the luck he could get, as the kitty family exploded in population —and many of the cats we met on our tour are descendants of the original. Fear not, our furry friends are all well cared for and pampered by a staff and team of vets who keep the line happy, healthy, and not too interbred! Seriously, they have a GOOD life!



If you ever happen to find yourself in Key West, which I thoroughly recommend for a myriad of reasons, might I suggest you take a formal tour of the Hemingway Home & Museum? Failing that, you can check out all the details at their website HERE.



Also, if you are going to the Florida Keys in real life or even in your fanciful daydreams, allow me to recommend two novels that truly got me in the mood (also, made me a tad wary of possible hurricanes!) They are both works of historical fiction, but seem to paint a pretty accurate picture of Floridian life back in the 1930s. **I’ve included my Amazon affiliate links (full disclosure here) which means I get a tiny commission while you pay the regular price for any of the books.**

     Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck HERE!


      The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton HERE!


Oh, and here’s my favourite book I’ve read by Hemingway thus far:

     A Moveable Feast HERE!


I’ll leave you with some wise words by Hemingway. They make me wonder if he was ever truly heard. They make me wonder how well I listen. Let’s not be like “most people”…

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”




Feel free to share in the comments if you have a favorite Hemingway book, quote—or your thoughts on cats!

Until next time,

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