Ernest Hemingway, the iconic literary figure considered one of the greatest American writers and among the first to live and work at the treacherous nexus of art and celebrity, is the subject of a three-part documentary series directed by award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick coming to Arkansas PBS April 5-7. Read on to learn about his ties to Arkansas and upcoming virtual events you can join to delve deeper into the film!
Hemingway and his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer, whose family lived in Piggott, were prominent visitors of Northeast Arkansas during their 13-year marriage. While staying in their Arkansas home, Hemingway penned part of “A Farewell to Arms.” In the upcoming series, you’ll see this Hemingway’s time in Arkansas mentioned in the first episode in context to his and Pauline’s move to Piggott just before their son Patrick was born.
"Many readers are surprised to learn that Ernest Hemingway has an Arkansas connection,” A-State Heritage Sites Director Adam Long said. “The Pfeiffer family, Ernest's in-laws, were a prominent farming family in Clay County. Ernest was a regular visitor in Piggott during his most productive writing years. He wrote portions of ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and several short stories in the loft of the Pfeiffers' barn, which the family converted to a studio for him. A visit to Piggott is the perfect supplement for an Arkansan watching this documentary.”
Arkansas State University operates the restored Pfeiffer home and Hemingway Barn-Studio as one of its four Heritage Sites. The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, 1021 West Cherry Street, Piggott, is open Monday-Friday with tours on the hour from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
We’re also partnering with the Division of Arkansas Heritage to share the Hemingway’s Arkansas story by cohosting a virtual screening event in March.
“Heritage tourism sites in Arkansas provide a unique way to explore our state’s past,” Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst said. “The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum welcomes guests from around the world who want to see where the Nobel Laureate wrote ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and gleaned characters and situations for his stories. But, don’t let your visit stop there. Explore the ‘Air Mail’ mural created with Depression-era funding at the National Register-listed Piggott Post Office, or venture to the nearby Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess. There are many adventures to be enjoyed in our beautiful state.”
On top of these closer looks, we’ll also be working with our local partners to share educational and local engagement opportunities including a virtual tour of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, archival content and little-known anecdotes, and a blog series.
Arkansas PBS and partners, including the Division of Arkansas Heritage and A-State Heritage Sites, will present a free, virtual preview screening of “Hemingway” Thursday, March 18, at 7 p.m. An expert panel discussion and Q&A will follow, focusing on Hemingway’s 13 years living in Northeast Arkansas. Registration for the event is required at myarpbs.org/hemingwayscreening.
Panelists discussing Hemingway’s time in Arkansas following the screening will include:
· Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst.
· Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director emeritus, A-State Heritage Sites. Dr. Hawkins was founding director of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, opened in 1999 in conjunction with Hemingway’s 100th birthday. She is the author of “Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage,” a biographical work that focuses on Hemingway’s relationship with the Pfeiffer family.
· Dr. Adam Long, director, A-State Heritage Sites, which include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott.
· Dr. Alex Vernon, M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professors of English at Hendrix College. His several books include “Soldiers Once and Still: Ernest Hemingway, James Salter, and Tim O'Brien,” “Hemingway's Second War: Bearing Witness to the Spanish Civil War” and “Teaching Hemingway and War.” He has been an active member of the international Ernest Hemingway Society leadership since 2013.
That’s not all you can look forward to, though! “Conversations on Hemingway,” a series of virtual events with leading writers and scholars in the weeks prior to the broadcast, is open to the public and will take place virtually via Zoom on Tuesday and Thursday nights March 2-18 at 6 p.m. Our final event, held Wednesday, March 24, at 6 p.m. in partnership with the New York Review of Books, will focus on “Hemingway and Women.” You can register for one or more of the events now at pbs.org/hemingwayevents.
· March 2 – Hemingway and the Natural World, in partnership with Idaho Public Television and The Community Library/Hemingway House. Guests include writer Terry Tempest Williams.
· March 4 – Hemingway and Celebrity, in partnership with PBS SoCal and the Los Angeles Times. Guests include Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison and writer Lesley M.M. Blume.
· March 9 – Hemingway, the Sea and Cuba, in partnership with South Florida PBS, FIU’s Casa Cuba, and The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Guests include writer Cristina Garcia and author/journalist Brin-Jonathan Butler.
· March 11 – Hemingway, Gender and Identity, in partnership with The WNET Group and the Center for Fiction. Guests include writers Mary Karr and Marc Dudley and journalist Lisa Kennedy.
· March 16 – Hemingway the Author, in partnership with GBH, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and the National Archives. Guests include writer Tobias Wolff and writer and physician Abraham Verghese.
· March 18 – Hemingway and Biography, in partnership with WETA and Georgetown University. Guests include writers Amanda Vaill, Howard Bryant and Paul Elie.
· March 24 – Hemingway and Women, in partnership with The New York Review of Books. Guests include writers Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose and Edward Mendelson.
Still looking for more? PBS Books – a multiplatform initiative celebrating the love of reading – has built a robust, nationwide outreach plan to complement the film and engage communities in partnership with thousands of libraries and their local PBS stations. Don’t miss activities including a virtual exhibition showcasing the most beloved articles in the Hemingway collections of libraries and individual readers, a National Book Club conversation with the filmmakers on Thursday, April 8, a variety of Hemingway-themed booklists and more.
“Hemingway” April 5-7, 2021
Corporate funding for “Hemingway” was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by the Annenberg Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and by “The Better Angels Society,” and its members John & Leslie McQuown, the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust, John & Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Kissick Family Foundation, Gail M. Elden, Gilchrist & Amy Berg, Robert & Beverly Grappone, Mauree Jane & Mark Perry; and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.