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Although Hemingway was an aficionado, he never ran with the bulls in Pamplona.

Lifelong Aficionado

When Hemingway saw his first bullfight in Pamplona in 1923, he brought his wife Hadley along because he hoped the event would have a positive influence on the unborn son she then carried. The sport certainly affected the budding writer. It became one of the reigning passions of his life.

In the 1920s, Hemingway spent as much time as possible in Pamplona. He stayed at the Pension Aguillar because that was where the bullfighters lived. Although he never ran with the bulls in the San Fermín festival, he competed in amateur bullfighting competitions.

In 1932, he journeyed to Spain to research "Death in the Afternoon," a manifesto on bullfighting that was published in Esquire and became the Bible of the sport.

In 1937, Hemingway returned to cover the Spanish Civil War, translating his experiences into newspaper articles, a flurry of short stories, the 1938 play "The Fifth Column," and the 1940 novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Fiercely supporting the Loyalist cause, he overcame his fear of public speaking to deliver an anti-Franco speech at the Second American Writers' Congress. He also helped produce the propaganda film "Spanish Earth."

Hemingway last visited Spain in 1959 to cover a series of one-on-one contests between two leading matadors. Life magazine had commissioned a 10,000-word piece. Hemingway turned in 10,000 words, later published as the 1985 epic "The Dangerous Summer."

After Hemingway's death in 1961, two tickets to the upcoming Pamplona bullfights were discovered in his desk drawer.



Hemingway (white pants) tries his luck at bullfighting during the "amateurs" in 1925.




"The Sun Also Rises" was Hemingway's second novel, published in 1926. It introduced the world to the lifestyle of the "Lost Generation" and the running of the bulls in Pamplona. The book was both a critical and a commercial success. Hemingway wrote "Death in the Afternoon," "the bullfighting bible," while living in Key West and during vacations in Wyoming during the early 30s. It was published in 1932. He continued to attend bullfights throughout his life.


Photo credits: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection/John F. Kennedy Library. Book covers: Princeton University Library.

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