Who Is The Greatest Travel Writer?

On the bookshelf directly above my desk sits a copy of every volume ever written by the man I consider to be the greatest travel writer of all time (actually one of the best authors of all time)....Ernest Hemingway.


I have read each and every one of these books at least once...and, let me tell you, no other writer can describe a setting in the way Hemingway could.  He didn't like to use adjectives in his writing and, yet, he was able to paint a picture with his words as beautifully as an artist does with a paintbrush.

Passport photo, 1923, Courtesy of JFK Library

Hemingway was as much an adventurer as he was a writer...his travels whether to Europe, Africa, Cuba or Northern Michigan are what fueled his writing. Every one of his stories or novels was set in places where he had traveled extensively and were very much based on his personal experiences.
At a cafe in Pamplona,Spain, 1925, Courtesy of JFK Library
"We stopped at a cafe on the square where we had eaten breakfast, and had a beer. It was hot, but the town had a cool, fresh, early-morning smell and it was pleasant sitting in the cafe. A breeze started to blow and you could feel that the air came from the sea. There were pigeons out in the square, and the houses were a yellow, sun-baked color, and I did not want to leave the cafe."
--The Sun Also Rises
"There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it."
--A Moveable Feast
In the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, Madrid, Spain, 1923,
Courtesy of the JFK Library

"Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death..."

--Death In The Afternoon
In Tanganyika, Africa, 1934, courtesy of JFK Library

"Where a man feels at home, outside of where he’s born, is where he’s meant to go."

--Green Hills of Africa 
With a striped marlin, Havana Harbor, 1939, courtesy of JFK Library

Outside his home, Finca Vigia, in Cuba, courtesy of JFK Library

In Venice with his fourth wife, Mary, courtesy of JFK Library

 I just finished reading Portrait of Hemingway by Lillian Ross - her account of a two day interview with Hemingway in New York City. It is a wonderfully written short book which I recommmend highly if you are a fan of Hemingway.

I also just watched an excellent movie - Hemingway and Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman.  It is a must watch if you are interested in the life of this great writer.

Also, the JFK Library in Boston holds the Ernest Hemingway Collection - an archive of ninety percent of his manuscript work, over 10,000 photographs and many of his personal letters and belongings. The web site alone is worth a visit for any lover of Hemingway's work.