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  • Isabel Cabral-Gattorno donated the original typewritten draft of this letter to the JFK Library following her husband's death in 1980. Hemingway makes direct reference to the incident which, nearly 20 years later would inspire his novel 'The Old Man & The Sea'.

    Key West. July 3, 1935

    My dear friend, Antonio;

    Yesterday I returned to Key West and found two of your letters and 50 samples of your book. In reference to the letters, I am deeply sorry that the contest did not work out. We thought that you had won the grand prize a while ago. It is a shame about that contest. Those judges must be jerks. About the book- I found it very beautiful; well done, and it looks very good. What do you mean you have not reproduced the magnificent painting of the two sisters that we have here at home? What should I do with the samples? Should I send them to New York and put them for sale or should I give some to the press? I think you’ll get more money for them if I send them to my editorial house (Charles Scribners Sons, 597 Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C.), where there is a large bookstore and they will sell them as if they were first editions of my book and try to get as much from the collectors as possible. What do you think of this little number? I will write to them and tell them to send all the money to you in Havana. Write and tell me if you agree with this. Are you aware that the booksellers charge up to 40% above cost? If this is so, you can be sure that your friend Hemingway will not cheat the great painter Gattorno out of money. I will not take a penny. But all these business people are, in fact, business people. The best thing is that the book is good, so it will sell. If I am in New York, I can sell it on the street and send you all the money. If we have to employ other people, they will have to be paid their percentage.
    We were in the islands of the Bahamas some 350 miles from here, where you get mail once a month, if you’re lucky. We caught a lot of fish. A 1,000 pound Marlin, of which the sharks had eaten 500 pounds. Also, various tuna, surpassing 400 lbs. My leg is doing well; it has healed with the bullet inside. It was nothing.
    If you do not hear from me, please do not get upset or melancholic. I care for you very much today, tomorrow and always. But I have always had an unsurpassable hatred for writing letters, novels etc. At the same time, I will tend to your novel, its sale and sending it up north before I leave for Bimini B.W.I. the day after tomorrow. Sending you a big hug and hope to see you soon. Is it true that Luis Alfredo is getting married again? With who?

    Pauline sends her regards

    Image:  Lilian & Antonio Gattorno with Ernest Hemingway on The Pilar in Havana Harbor. Photo by Arnold Samuelson from the archives of the Antonio Gattorno Estate Foundation.
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