Hemingway, Valerie 1940–
Hemingway, Valerie 1940–
PERSONAL: Born 1940, in Ireland; married Gregory Hemingway, 1966 (divorced,1987).
ADDRESSES: Home—Bozeman, MT Agent—c/o Author Mail, Ballantine Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Freelance writer and editor, 1959–. Journalist in Madrid, Spain, 1959; private secretary to Ernest Hemingway in Spain, France, and Cuba, 1959–60; worked for Hemingway Estate in Cuba, Key West, FL, Ketchum, ID, and New York, NY, 1960–64; worked in New York publishing and public relations for two decades; fiction reviewer for Publishers Weekly for two years.
Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways (memoir), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book on the State of Montana.
SIDELIGHTS: Valerie Hemingway's memoir Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways offers a unique perspective on the final years of novelist Ernest Hemingway by telling the story of the author's relationship with one of the world's most famous writers. Valerie Danby-Smith was a young journalist working in Spain in 1959, when her editor instructed her to track down Hemingway and interview him. Danby-Smith and Hemingway struck up a friendship, and the author invited the nineteen-year-old journalist to join him as his personal secretary. She held the position for about two years before leaving. But her closeness with Hemingway continued almost until the day when the author committed suicide. Later Danby-Smith joined Hemingway's widow in sorting through the manuscripts and papers the author left behind. She also married Hemingway's son Gregory, and lived with him for over two decades.
Those tangled relationships are chronicled in Running with the Bulls. "I felt that [Hemingway] was very affable and kind, when I met him," the author told James Plath in an interview in Remembering Ernest Hemingway. "I didn't even know if I would get the interview, and I was in a way surprised but not in a way surprised to—not because of him, but because I tended, if I wanted to do something, to find a way to do it." Hemingway invited Danby-Smith to join him and his entourage in Pamplona, Spain, for a week for the famous running of the bulls—in which young men chase wild bulls through the streets of the city. "How I became the secretary, at the end of the week everyone was planning the future and a lot of his guests were going down to Malaga for the famous 60th birthday party," the author told Plath, "and so he or Bill Davis said to me, 'Are you coming down to the birthday party?' and I said, 'Oh, no, I have to earn a living. I have to go back to Madrid and continue working.' It was after that, Ernest sort of said to Bill, 'Well, if Valerie has to work, why can't she work for us?'"
Valerie then accompanied Hemingway to France, where she helped with the typing of the manuscripts that would become A Moveable Feast and The Garden of Eden, two of Hemingway's last works. She stayed with the novelist for a number of months, traveling with him to his farm in Cuba. Once there, she recognized that he was slipping further and further into the mental illness that would eventually result in his suicide in 1961, and she broke out of the relationship.
"That Hemingway 'was the most interesting person' she has ever known," stated Maureen Connelly in the Hemingway Review, "resounds in her conversation and memoir." Even her decades-long marriage to Hemingway's cross-dressing physician son Gregory was not as significant as her relationship with the author. "Coming away from this memoir, one has a sense of having visited the realms of those Greek drama figures who had been singled out for destruction by forces unknown," declared Kelley Dupuis on the Ernest Hemingway Web site. "Valerie Hemingway's memoir is reminiscent on one level of Joseph Conrad, a writer whom Hemingway much admired. Running with the Bulls gives the reader a feeling of having heard from the one who has sailed to the very edge, who has looked into the heart of darkness itself, and lived to tell the tale."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Hemingway, Valerie, Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Plath, James, and Frank Simons, Remembering Ernest Hemingway, Ketch & Yawl Press, 1999.
Booklist, September 1, 2004, Steve Paul, review of Running with the Bulls, p. 40.
Hemingway Review, spring, 2005, Maureen Connelly, review of Running with the Bulls, p. 102.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Running with the Bulls, p. 788.
Library Journal, October 15, 2004, William Gargan, review of Running with the Bulls, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, July 12, 2004, review of Running with the Bulls, p. 50.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (October 18, 2005), Jack Goodstein, review of Running with the Bulls.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Online, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ (November 8, 2004), Kayley Mendenhall, "A Lifetime of Adventure with 'Papa' Hemingway," review of Running with the Bulls.
Capital Times Online (Madison, WI), http://www.madison.com/ (October 27, 2004), Doug Moe, interview with Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway Web site, http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/ (October 18, 2005), Kelley Dupuis, review of Running with the Bulls.
Seattle Times Online, http://seattletimes.com/ (January 3, 2005), Colleen Long, "Hemingway Aide Writes Bio," review of Running with the Bulls.
Washington Post Online, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ (November 11, 2004), Jonathan Yardley, review of Running with the Bulls.