Who were Ernest Hemingway's 4 wives? All about Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Welsh

PBS documentary ‘Hemingway’ will navigate the author's life as a married man, while dwelling on his mental illnesses and challenges he faced as a writer


                            Who were Ernest Hemingway's 4 wives? All about Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Welsh
American novelist Ernest Hemingway died by suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot (Getty Images)

Ernest Hemingway’s personal life is as intriguing as his many books. Before taking his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot, the renowned author had quite an adventurous married life, to say the least. Hemingway had not one, or two, but four wives, each of them he met while already married to another. In its upcoming documentary film ‘Hemingway’, PBS will be navigating his life as a married man, while dwelling on his mental illnesses and challenges he faced as a writer. 

The documentary also talks about Hemingway’s relationship with many women in his life, including his mother, sister, and a nurse he allegedly fell in love with. If reports are believed to be true, his fourth wife referred to her predecessors as graduates of 'the Hemingway University'.  If you’re planning on watching the documentary, let us tell you everything about his four wives you ought to know before exploring his life as a literary legend. 

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Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson 

Ernest Hemingway, Hadley Richardson with their son Jack (Wikipedia Commons)

Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson was born in Missouri in 1891. She was reportedly a gifted musician. The duo met at a party in Chicago in 1920 and the two hit off immediately despite her being 8 years older. According to Biography.com, “she reminded him of the nurse who he fell in love with while recuperating from his battle wounds during World War I.” They were married in less than a year and took off to Paris, and then moved to Toronto two years later. She Richardson gave birth to their son in Toronto, whom they nicknamed “Bumby”. 

Hemingway and his family returned to Paris eventually to focus on his career as a writer, when he met young and savvy journalist Pauline ‘Fife” Pfeiffer, who became his second wife. Richardson was reportedly aware of his affair with Fife. "Richardson and Pfeiffer became such close friends that the former had the younger woman accompany her and Hemingway on vacation," reports state. When the arguments and fights between the couple started to grow she asked for a divorce, which was finalized in Jan 1927. Richardson died at the age of 87 in 1979. 

Hemingway’s second wife Pauline 'Fife' Pfeiffer

Fife was born in 1895 in Iowa. she was an accomplished journalist, who wrote for Vogue in Paris. She reportedly came from a wealthy family and had a flair for fashion, often sporting the latest trends while living in Paris. She remained his wife for 13 years after they got married in the spring following his divorce from his first wife. Reportedly Fife has been referred to as "’devil in Dior’ as well as a ‘determined terrier’ who was set on snatching Hemingway from his kind-hearted first wife.” Hemingway himself wrote in his novel “A Moveable Feast” that Fife "murdered" his relationship with Richardson "by using the art of seduction.” they had two sons together: Patrick and Gregory. The author had by then been attracted to journalist Martha Gellhorn, who would become his third wife. Fife passed away in 1951 at the age of 56. 

Hemingway’s third wife Martha Gellhorn 

Martha Gellhorn (Wikipedia Commons)

His third wife Gellhorn was born in Missouri in 1908. She was a novelist and war correspondent. She met Hemingway in Key West at Sloppy joe’s restaurant in 1936. “Blonde, witty, aristocratic and smart as a whip, Gellhorn connected easily with the famous author, discussing politics, war, and her travels abroad. She befriended Pfeiffer, with the latter allowing her to spend two weeks sunning in the Hemingways' garden,” reports state. 

A mesmerized Hemingway is said to have followed Gellhorn to New York, where he “constantly” called her to his hotel claiming he was “dreadfully lonely.” The duo eventually went on to cover the Spanish Civil War together, where they fell in love. This led to his divorce from Fife and 16 days later he was married to Gellhorn. However, their marriage only lasted a few years due to her long absence when she traveled the world for news coverage. 

Soon, Gellhorn would find herself playing his ex-wife as the Hemingway as journalist Mary Welsh became his new mistress. Gellhorn died in England at the age of 89 in 1998. 

Hemingway’s fourth and final wife Mary Welsh

American novelist Ernest Millar Hemingway (1899 - 1961) and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh. (Getty Images)

The novelist’s fourth wife was also a journalist, whom he met in 1944. They were both married to different people when they met each other. While it was the fourth time down the alter or him, it was third for Welsh. They got married in Cuba in 1946 and the same year they experienced a miscarriage. The couple reportedly lived in Cuba for over a decade where he is said to have fallen in love with a young Italian woman, which caused a crack in his relationship with Welsh. However, the couple settled in Ketchum in his final years and she was the one who allowed him to get shock treatments in 1960. The next year, Hemingway took his own life. His marriage with Welsh was the longest of all. Welsh took her last break in New York in 1986. She was aged 78.
 



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