Ernest and Pauline Hemingway in Paris, 1927
Pauline Marie Pfeiffer
July 22, 1895
Parkersburg, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||October 1, 1951(aged 56)|
|Cause of death||Acute shock|
|Education||Visitation Academy of St. Louis|
University of Missouri School of Journalism (1918)
(m. 1927; div. 1940)
Pfeiffer was born in Parkersburg, Iowa to Paul, a real estate agent, and Mary Pfeiffer, on July 22, 1895, moving to St. Louis in 1901, where she went to school at Visitation Academy of St. Louis. Although her family later moved to Piggott, Arkansas, Pfeiffer stayed in Missouri to study at the 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 1926.
Marriage to Hemingway
In the spring of 1926, Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, 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, Hadley and Hemingway decided to separate, and in November, Hadley formally requested a divorce. They were divorced in January 1927.
Hemingway married Pauline in May 1927, 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 drew upon Pfeiffer's difficult labor with one son as the basis for his character Catherine's death in A Farewell to Arms. Pfeiffer's devout Roman Catholic beliefs led to her support of the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War while Hemingway backed the Republicans.
Later life and death
Pfeiffer spent the rest of her life in Key West, with frequent visits to California, until her death on October 1, 1951 at age 56. Her death was attributed to an acute state of shock related to her son Gregory's arrest and a subsequent phone call from Ernest. Gregory, who had experienced gender identity issues for most of his life, had been arrested as a male caught entering the women's restroom in a movie theater. Years later, after he had become a medical doctor, Gregory interpreted his mother's autopsy report as indicating that Pauline had died due to a pheochromocytoma tumor on one of her adrenal glands. His theory was that the phone call from Ernest had caused the tumor to secrete excessive adrenaline, and then stop, the resultant change in blood pressure causing her to go into the acute shock that caused her death.
- Harris, Peggy (Associated Press) (30 July 2000). Ernest Hemingway Museum Popular in Quiet Farm Town, The Tuscaloosa News, Retrieved November 4, 2010
- 1900 United States Federal Census
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- Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. Macmillan (1985). London. ISBN 0-333-42126-4
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