Pfeiffer was born in Parkersburg, Iowa, on July 22, 1895, moving to St. Louis in 1901 where she went to school at Visitation Academy of St. Louis. Although her family moved to Piggott, Arkansas, Pfeiffer stayed in Missouri to study at University of Missouri School of Journalism, graduating in 1918. After working at newspapers in Cleveland and New York, Pfeiffer switched to magazines, working for Vanity Fair and Vogue. A move to Paris for Vogue led to her meeting Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson.
In the spring of 1926, Hadley became aware of Hemingway's affair with Pauline, and in July, Pauline joined the couple for their annual trip to Pamplona. On their return to Paris, the couple decided to separate; and in November, Hadley formally requested a divorce. They were divorced in January 1927.
Hemingway married Pauline in May, and they went to Le Grau-du-Roi to honeymoon. Pauline's family was wealthy and Catholic; before the marriage Hemingway converted to Catholicism. By the end of the year Pauline, who was pregnant, wanted to move back to America. John Dos Passos recommended Key West, and they left Paris in March 1928.
They had two sons Patrick and Gregory. Hemingway went to Spain in 1937 and there began an affair with Martha Gellhorn. He and Pfeiffer were divorced on November 4, 1940, and he married Gellhorn three weeks later.
Pfeiffer's difficult labor with one son was the fictional basis for Catherine's death in A Farewell to Arms. Her devout Roman Catholic beliefs led to her supporting the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, while Hemingway backed the Republicans.
Pfeiffer spent the rest of her life in Key West with frequent visits to California until her death on October 1, 1951. Her death was first attributed to shock related to her son Gregory's arrest and a subsequent phone call from Ernest that same day. Gregory had been arrested earlier in that day as a male who was caught entering a woman's restroom in a theater. Years later, Gregory became a medical doctor and interpreted the autopsy report and claimed that Pauline died due to a pheochromocytoma tumor on one of her adrenal glands. His theory was that the phone call from Ernest caused the tumor to secrete excessive adrenalin and then stop. The resultant change in blood pressure caused the shock that killed her.
- Harris, Peggy (Associated Press) (30 July 2000). Ernest Hemingway Museum Popular in Quiet Farm Town, The Tuscaloosa News, Retrieved November 4, 2010
- Baker (1972), 43
- Mellow (1992), 333
- Mellow (1992), 338–340
- Meyers (1985), 172
- Mellow (1992), 348–353
- Mellow (1992, 294
- Meyers (1985), 204}
- "Gloria Hemingway (1931 - 2001) writer, doctor.".
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