Newly released Hemingway letters reveal “gentle side,” love of cats

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"Certainly missed you… Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years," wrote noted gun, alcohol, and prose enthusiast Ernest Hemingway in a letter only recently made available to the public. After Uncle Willy was hit by a car, Hemingway was forced to euthanize him. But lest you think this letter is just revealing Papa as a callous murderer, he's talking about a cat.

In the 1953 letter to Gianfranco Ivancich, Hemingway tells Ivancich he misses him, before continuing to lament the loss of his cat, Uncle Willy. The letter is just one of many recently made available to the public — the batch is from 1953 until 1960, one year before Hemingway's suicide.

Hemingway met Ivancich in a Venice hotel bar in 1949, and bonded over leg wounds they got in the war, which may have been the single manliest conversation ever. It sounds like one of those experiences you read about that makes you realize that the way you spend your evenings is completely devoid of badassery. 

Susan Beegel, editor of The Hemingway Review said "the letters, as a whole, show the author had a gentle side, and was someone who made time to be fatherly and nurturing to a younger friend." 

The letter also details Hemingway's not-always-successful attempts to keep his public and private life separate — he receives visitors only moments after putting Uncle Willy down.

"I still had the rifle and I explained to them they had come at a bad time and to please understand and go away," he wrote.

But one visitor wasn't deterred. The letter quotes them as saying "We have come at a most interesting time. Just in time to see the great Hemingway cry because he has to kill a cat." 

Hemingway then presumably beat both of them to death with his bare hands, because you do not fuck with a man who has just lost his favorite cat.