Marjorie Bump Main and Ernest Hemingway

Recently we received a collection on deposit of letters, mostly between Donald St. John and Marjorie Bump Main. After Ernest Hemingway died in 1961, Don began to research people who had personally known him. Through a friend, Don discovered a previously unknown source, Marjorie Bump Main (1901-1987), who had become good friends with Ernest in late 1919. Hemingway historians have wondered about the exact nature of their relationship. Were they good friends or more? She wrote to Don that they were only good friends on a big brother-younger sister level and  that was all she ever wanted or imagined their relationship would be.

Marjorie Bump Main

The correspondence, 1965-1974, consists mostly of 208 letters between Marjorie Bump Main and Don St. John, 1966-1974. The initial focus of the correspondence, 1966-1967, between Don and Marjorie was Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Marjorie, and what she remembered about him, his family, friends, and related events. As Don’s and Marjorie’s friendship developed, their correspondence quickly became an exchange between friends, more personal, and less about Ernest Hemingway. By February 1967, most of the correspondence is about Don and Marjorie, their lives, interests, events, and families.

Marjorie letter to Don (partial)
Some information in Marjorie's letters conflicts with other information about Hemingway from other sources. She acknowledges in her letters that some of her memories were not as clear as they might have been in the past, that she had pushed them to the back of her mind, and that writing to Don gave her some clarity while remembering old memories. 
Don letter to Marjorie (Partial)
 Also included is one folder of correspondence from John J. McCune to friends Don and Ruth St. John, September-October 1965 and January 1974. A folder with a two photographs of Marjorie and one of a man, probably her husband, Sid Main, unidentified and undated [1966?] copies of 1920s-1930s photographs, completes the collection.

 The collection will be processed soon and cataloged as soon as all the cataloging quirks of our new LMS (Library Management System) are worked out.


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