Ernest Hemingway, one of the giants of twentieth century literature, was given a typewriter on his 22nd birthday, July 21, 1921, by his then fiance, Hadley Richardson. She gave him a model Corona #3. In this model, the carriage folded down, thereby making it fit neatly into its case. It was durable, compact, and perfect for a roving, traveling reporter. With it, he could easily send dispatches to his paper from the field. Hemingway took it along when he and Hadley sailed for Europe in December of 1921.
My second mystery in the DD McGil Literati Mystery Series is entitled, “Hunting for Hemingway.” It centers on a valise of Hemingway’s work that Hadley lost at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris when she took a trip to Switzerland to meet her husband. Much of the material in that lost valise had been typed on the Corona #3 that Hadley had given him on his birthday the year before.
Hemingway immediately took a train back to Paris and posted a small reward for the lost valise. The valise never surfaced, and his manuscripts were never recovered. He was furious with Hadley for years over the loss. Critics today say that the lost early works would provide great insight into the development of his craft. Hemingway’s friends believed that he never forgave Hadley, and the incident of the lost valise was the beginning of their breakup.
I had fun doing research on what typewriter Hemingway would have used during this time in his life. Much is known about his later typewriters, but not much about his early work.
The Corona 3 replaced the Standard Folding in 1912. It was one of the most successful machines in typewriter history, with more than 600,000 machines built and sold over a period of almost 30 years.
The folding Corona 3 (the model number follows the Standard Folding models 1 and 2) originally appeared as a machine with pivot bearing type bars wth shift keys only on the left. Later, the machine was built with a regular segment to hold the typebars , shift keys on the left and right and other improvements. In the late 1920s Corona introduced a range of Corona Specials, in different bright colors, like red, green and blue. The main design however, with the forward folding carriage remained the same through the decades. Unchanged also remained the way the serial number of each machine was clumsily scratched into the underside of the carriage, although it was also neatly printed on the inside of the rear panel.
In 1926 the Corona factory merged with the L.C. Smith Typewriter Company to form the Smith-Corona compan
(My thanks to the Typewriter Museum on line and My Typewriter.com authors for the above information)
(Photo right) Diane Gilbert Madsen with a Corona #3 Similar to the one Hemingway used in 1921-1922.
Here are a few stories about Hemingway’s Corona #3 Typewriter from 1921 – 1922
Reference: Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, 1969, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, (1) Page 80, “…(Hadley Richardson) gave him a Corona typewriter for his twenty-second birthday…” This would have been July 21, 1921. They were married later that year on September 3, 1921 and left for Europe in December, 1921.
(2) Page 90, Hemingway sent this poem he wrote about his new Corona to Harriet Monroe in Chicago in February, 1922:
“The mills of the gods grind slowly;
But this mill
Chatters in mechanical staccato,
Ugly short infantry of the mind,
Advancing over difficult terrain,
Make this Corona
* An old style version of the modern gattling gun
(3) Page 97, on Sept. 25, 1922, Hemingway left for Constantinople to cover the war between Greece and Turkey. “The taxi to the Gare de Lyon on the night of September 25th was driven by a drunken chauffeur who hurled Ernest’s suitcase out of the cab with such exuberance that the Corona typewriter in … “
Midnight Ink, September 2010
When Hemingway’s lost works, stolen in 1922 from his first wife Hadley Richardson, are recovered, they’re worth millions. The womanizing academic who found them is murdered, and Chicago Insurance Investigator DD McGil, aided by her antiquarian book dealer friend Tom Joyce, must recover them, if genuine, or prove they are fakes. Her quest puts her on the trail of a killer. The hunter becomes the hunted when someone tries to stop her dead.
Hunting for Hemingway can be purchased at: