Hemingway, Leicester, 1915-1982

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American author, brother of Ernest Hemingway.

From the description of Leicester Hemingway New Atlantis Collection, 1964-1966. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122589970

Leicester C. Hemingway, only brother to the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway, was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on April 1, 1915. Like Ernest, Leicester was a writer, world traveler, and avid outdoorsman. He worked as a newspaper reporter, photo editor, boat builder, and authored many articles on fishing and outdoor activities for men's publications, along with six books. Among these books was a novel entitled The Sound of the Trumpet (1953), which was based on his experiences in France and Germany during World War II. This work received slight praise by critics, but many seemed to think that Leicester was simply living in the shadow of his older brother. A review of this work in The New York Times declared that Leicester Hemingway was part of the first younger generation shaped by the writings of Ernest Hemingway. Leicester’s most famous and well-received work, a biography entitled My Brother, Ernest Hemingway (1961), is considered by some to be the finest work on the subject. For the last five years of his life, Leicester focused his attentions on The Bimini Out Islands News, a small monthly newsletter on fishing.

Besides his work as a writer, it is not as widely known that Leicester was also the founder of a new island republic off the coast of Jamaica, declared New Atlantis, on July 4, 1964. Built up from a depth of fifty feet, the 8 x 30 ft. “country” was constructed with iron pipes, stones, bamboo, and stainless steel. Essentially, it amounted to a bamboo raft, anchored by a railroad axle and an old Ford engine block, six miles off the west coast of Jamaica near Bluefields.

The purpose of this tiny new nation was to house the headquarters of the International Marine Research Society, an organization founded by Hemingway. This society’s mission was to further marine research, raise funds for this research, and to build a scientifically valuable aquarium in Jamaica. Hemingway also believed that by creating this new country he could help protect Jamaican fishing, and this was another of his goals.

There were six original inhabitants of New Atlantis, including Leicester, his wife Doris, their daughters Anne and Hilary (seven and three years old at the time), Washington international public relations specialist, Edward K. Moss, and his assistant, Julia Cellini. Leicester was elected the first president in 1965.

To fund the construction of New Atlantis, Hemingway used all the proceeds from his biography, My Brother, Ernest Hemingway, and though the island was quite small, he had plans to expand it in the future. Unfortunately, this never came to be, as the tiny island nation of New Atlantis was destroyed in a storm only a few years after its creation.

Late in his life, Leicester was diagnosed with a severe case of Type II diabetes, and, after suffering through five operations and the possibility of losing his legs, he decided to end his life in 1982 at the age of 67. Tragically, he was not the first or last in his family to commit suicide. Ernest also shot himself in 1961, at the age of 62, his sister, Ursula, and grandniece, Margaux, died at their own hands, and his father, Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, killed himself in 1928 after suffering from depression.

From the guide to the Leicester Hemingway New Atlantis Collection TXRC03-A13., 1964-1966, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Hemingway, Ernest person
associatedWith Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961. person
associatedWith New Atlantis (West Indies, British) corporateBody
associatedWith Spiegel, Frederick W. (Frederick William), 1898-1975. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
States, Small
New Atlantis (West Indies, British)
Newly independent states
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1915-04-01

Death 1982-09-13

Americans

English

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