KEY WEST, Florida Keys — An intriguing array of literary events awaits readers and writers during Hemingway Days 2023, set for Tuesday through Sunday, July 18-23. The festival celebrates the talent and Key West lifestyle of author Ernest Hemingway, who lived on the island for most of the 1930s.
Events include prose and poetry readings, a Hemingway museum exhibit and presentations that illustrate the island city’s impact on the legendary writer’s life and work. All are presented by the Key West Art & Historical Society, whose Custom House Museum contains one of the United States’ most comprehensive collections of Hemingway artifacts and memorabilia.
The festival’s opening evening Tuesday, July 18, features a lecture by Rebecca Johnston, president of the Florida Hemingway Society. Focusing on Hemingway’s connection to a 1935 hurricane that influenced his Key West novel “To Have and Have Not,” the presentation is set for 6 p.m. at the island’s Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St.
For those who arrive in Key West before Hemingway Days, the film version of “To Have and Have Not” is to be screened Monday, July 17, at the cinema.
Fans of fine writing can attend the announcement and reading of the winning entry in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition Wednesday, July 19, paired with the Key West Poetry Guild’s reading of “Papa’s Poems” and guild members’ work. Awarding $2,500 annually to emerging writers of short fiction, the competition is directed by Lorian Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter and author of books including “Walk on Water.” The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. at The Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela St.
The Key West Art & Historical Society’s historian and curator, Cori Convertito, Ph.D., is to discuss Hemingway’s Key West years Thursday, July 20, during a 5 p.m. “Happy Hour With the Historian” gathering. Exploring elements such as the author’s introduction to Key West and his love of Keys angling, the event includes a complimentary libation and takes place at Comedy Key West, 218 Whitehead St., #5.
All day Sunday, July 23, the festival spotlights aspects of the Hemingway collection at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St., with free admission for those who mention Hemingway Days upon entering. As well as items from the late author’s life, visitors can view a full-size bronze depicting him in his prime and 59 original drawings by famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey that illustrate Hemingway’s novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Literary event information and ticketing: kwahs.org
A cat sits on a writing table once used by Ernest Hemingway in the author's studio at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West. Photo: Rob O'Neal
The film version of To Have and Have Not is to be screened Monday, July 17, at Key West's Tropic Cinema, followed by a lecture on July 18.
Ernest Hemingway spent his days writing and fishing in Key West, having lived on the island in the 1930s. Image: Key West Art & Historical Society