Hemingway Days 2023: A Tribute to Key West's Illustrious Literary History

An intriguing lineup of literary events awaits both readers and writers at Hemingway Days 2023, taking place from Tuesday to Sunday, July 18-23, in Key West, Florida Keys. This festival venerates the talent and Key West lifestyle of celebrated author Ernest Hemingway, who resided on the island for a significant portion of the 1930s.

The festival's events, curated by the Key West Art & Historical Society, aim to highlight Hemingway's life and work, as well as the profound influence of the island city on the iconic writer. These include:

  • Prose and poetry readings
  • A walking tour
  • A Hemingway museum exhibit
  • Presentations showcasing the impact of Key West on Hemingway's life

The Key West Art & Historical Society, which hosts these activities, houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Hemingway artifacts and memorabilia in the United States within its Custom House Museum.

The festival kicks off on the evening of Tuesday, July 18, with a lecture by Rebecca Johnston, the president of the Florida Hemingway Society. The discussion centers on Hemingway's connection to a 1935 hurricane that shaped his Key West novel "To Have and Have Not." This presentation is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. at the Tropic Cinema located at 416 Eaton St.

For early attendees, the film adaptation of “To Have and Have Not” will be screened on Monday, July 17, at the Tropic Cinema.

A particular highlight of the festival is the announcement and reading of the winning entry in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition on Wednesday, July 19. This event, which provides a $2,500 annual prize to emerging short fiction writers, is led by Lorian Hemingway, the author's granddaughter and the author of several books herself, including “Walk on Water.”

Adding to the literary charm of the evening, the Key West Poetry Guild will present readings of “Papa’s Poems” along with their members' work. The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. at The Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela St.

Cori Convertito, Ph.D., the Key West Art & Historical Society’s historian and curator, will explore Hemingway's Key West years in a presentation on Thursday, July 20, during a "Happy Hour With the Historian" gathering. This exploration will cover the author's introduction to Key West and his affinity for Keys angling. The event will also include a complimentary libation and will take place at Comedy Key West, 218 Whitehead St., #5.

On Sunday, July 23, Convertito will lead a walking tour of iconic Key West locations that held significance in Hemingway's life. This 90-minute tour will begin at 9 a.m. and will depart from the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St.

The final day of the festival will focus on the museum's Hemingway collection, offering free admission to those who mention Hemingway Days upon entrance. Alongside artifacts from Hemingway's life, visitors can marvel at a full-size bronze statue depicting Hemingway in his prime. Additionally, 59 original drawings by renowned marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey, illustrating Hemingway's novel "The Old Man and the Sea," will also be on display.