January 2, 2018

 Valerie Hemingway

MSUB Announces 2018 Writer-in-Residence Valerie Hemingway



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — MSU Billings is pleased to announce that Valerie Hemingway, daughter-in-law and former assistant to Ernest Hemingway, is the 2018 Writer-in-Residence. She will be teaching the course titled “Hemingway’s World,” which will explore literature, life, and the times of Ernest Hemingway.


Earnest Hemingway with Valerie
The “Hemingway’s World” course begins Jan. 23, 2018 and will be held on Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for 15 weeks. It is open to all MSU Billings students for credit (Note: students do not have to be in the honors program to take the class.) Additionally, faculty, staff, and community members may audit the course for $15, on a space available basis.


Ms. Hemingway was actually the first writer-in-residence at MSUB back in 2012 and is returning as the seventh writer-in-residence. Previous writers include Tim Cahill, Gary Ferguson, Craig Lancaster, and Virginia Sprague.


“The writer-in-residence program provides an opportunity for our students to work with professionals from the writing world,” commented David Craig, Director of University Honors Program. “The program also contributes to the intellectual life at MSUB and in the Billings community.”


Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Valerie went to Spain at the age of 18 to work as a journalist with the intention of gaining experience to be hired by the Irish Times. During her visit, she interviewed Ernest Hemingway who presented her a job offer. She worked for two years as his assistant, and became his protégé.


In 1960, Ms. Hemingway, moved to the U.S. to work at Newsweek magazine. Shortly after, Ernest died and his wife Mary asked Valerie to accompany her to Cuba to assist with the Hemingway estate. Valerie helped Mary with classifying Ernest’s papers for four years and sending his things to the U.S.


A large amount of Ernest’s materials were left behind in Cuba with the hope that Hemingway’s house would become an international study center for visiting writers. Instead, it became a museum, under the orders of Fidel Castro.


Valerie’s time working for Ernest and with his estate helped pave her career path. She is one of the few people still alive who has meaningful knowledge and first-hand experience with the famous writer.


Valerie met Gregory, one of Ernest’s sons, at Ernest’s funeral, and they married in 1966. This relationship further solidified Valerie’s interest in Ernest Hemingway and the connection to him.


In 1980, Gregory and Valerie Hemingway moved to Montana. At that time, she was unemployable because she was not a citizen of the U.S. nor did she have a degree. However, with the advent of the internet she earned a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in Modern Language with minors in Spanish and English Literature. Ms. Hemingway still resides in Bozeman, Mont.


Earnest Hemingway and Valerie Hemingway
Interest in Ernest Hemingway as an author led to many biographies, books, and articles. Ms. Hemingway went on to write a memoir as well, published in 2004. The book, titled “Running with the Bulls - My Years with the Hemingways” centers around her time with the author.


Ms. Hemingway is currently serving as a consulting editor on a 17-volume, “Complete Letters of Ernest Hemingway,” which will be published by Cambridge University Press. Volume four of the series was published in October 2017.


“This is a rare opportunity to get to study with someone who knew Ernest Hemingway’s life and literature personally, edited his papers, had access to him, and understands how it applies today,” shared David Craig, MSU Billings Director of University Honors Program.


Ms. Hemingway provides great insights into many of Ernest’s perspectives including masculinity, war, and education. An interesting fact she shared is that Ernest believed that “A Farewell to Arms” was his self-proclaimed best book.


“Ernest wrote about the essence of things; views and behaviors change but essence doesn’t,” Ms. Hemingway shared. “He tapped from the source and somehow he is always in vogue.”


For more information about the writer-in-residence contact David Craig, Director of University Honors Program at 657-2908, david.craig2@msubillings.edu.