Ernest Hemingway (lost suitcase of manuscripts and early works from American novelist; 1922)

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Hemingway working on For Whom the Bell Tolls at the Sun Valley Lodge in 1939

Status: Lost

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. He was born in July 21st, 1899 and his works were a strong influence in the 20th century like his iceberg theory. Hemingway produced his works in the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. Though, in 1922, a suitcase containing manuscripts and early works from him were stolen in a train station in Paris.


Hemingway, 23 years old at the time, was writing fiction at night for his assignment for the Toronto Daily Star. He asked his wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson (who was back in Paris at the time) to come and join him in Lausanne. Elizabeth was sick at the time and knew how valuable Hemingway's work was to him. As a result, all of Hemingway's work at the time was put into a suitcase.[1][2] Elizabeth reached the Paris's Gare de Lyon, one of the seven large mainline railway stations. Elizabeth, right before the train departed, decided to purchase a bottle of Evian and left the suitcase unattended. Right when she came back, the suitcase was gone as someone stolen it.[3]

Elizabeth cried for the entire ride, and when she arrived, she was in tears. Hemingway told her she has nothing to worry about and they can work it out together if she tells him what's going on, which she then told him everything. Hemingway laughed and told that it's okay because he had carbon copies of his writing, which she then told him that she lost those as well as they were in the suitcase. Hemingway, in disbelief, went back to Paris to see if it was true. In his memoir, A Moveable Feast, quote:

“It was true alright and I remember what I did in the night after I let myself into the flat and found it was true.”

None of Hemingway's early work hasn't published and two short stories only remain in Paris, Up in Michigan (which is unpublishable), and My Old Man, which was with an editor at the time. Lost in the suitcase was several stories, manuscript, early work, and an early draft of a World War I novel that Hemingway never attempted to rewrite it.[3] According to The Book of Lost Books, Hemingway has claimed that the lost of the suitcase was the reason he divorced Elizabeth, which came out of a drink or two.


It's not known who stole the suitcase and what happened to his manuscripts and early works. As of 2024, the manuscripts and early work hasn't been found and is unlikely to ever be found again.

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