The Sabotaged Friendship of Authors Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson
Ernest Hemingway, an intrinsically gifted author in his own right, owes much of his early success to the mentor he befriended and eventually estranged, Sherwood Anderson. Hemingway’s renowned knack for sabotaging personal relationships throughout his life started early with Anderson. The two writers met in a suburb of Chicago named Oak Park while Hemingway worked as an editor for the Cooperative Commonwealth in 1919. Anderson would go on to help Ernest publish his first successful work (inspired by Sherwood’s own writing), In Our Time, but the friendship would come to an abrupt end in 1926 courtesy of Hemingway’s satirical jab at his former mentor in The Torrents of Spring.
Sherwood Anderson was a relatively well-established author when he met Ernest Hemingway. Before they encountered one another, Hemingway had already read Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Ernest “was a great admirer of [Anderson’s] work, particularly those tales which had sporting scenes for their backgrounds” (Schevill 153). Whenever the two were around each other, Hemingway was always “quiet and attentive” (Fenton 104), though Ernest’s friend, Kate Smith recalled: “It probably means a storm’s brewing” (Fenton 104). Hemingway would internalize all that he learned from his time spent with Anderson in Chicago. The two shared a similar interest in “sex as a basic human drive,...the examination of youth and its distresses,…[and] the importance of emotion and feeling” (Fenton 148). Anderson himself denied ever influencing Hemingway’s work “as a whole” (Fenton 105). Anderson merely recognized the talent that Hemingway possessed. Motivated by his appreciation of Hemingway’s abilities and their newfound friendship, Anderson wrote to his publisher, Horace Liveright, in 1923, with the recommendation that he publish Hemingway’s In Our Time. Hemingway was decidedly grateful for his friend’s actions.
In 1921, Hemingway set out to join the league of expatriate authors residing in France, “armed with letters of introduction from Anderson” (Fenton 118). One of these letters addressed Miss Gertrude Stein, in which Sherwood wrote: “Mr. Hemingway is an American writer instinctively in touch with everything worthwhile going on here” (Jones 85). Hemingway and Anderson maintained contact overseas as Ernest worked on his short stories. So similar were some of Hemingway’s stories in theme and style to Anderson’s, that many accused Ernest of plagiarism. “Up in Michigan” and “My Old Man”, the latter story appearing in Hemingway’s In Our Time, bared striking resemblances to the stories found in Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Hemingway resented the...