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A conference dedicated to the works of Ernest Hemingway will be hosted in Sheridan

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, in December 1939.
Lloyd Arnold
Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, in December 1939.

Sheridan College will host the first part of the 19th Hemingway Conference from Jul. 17-21, which focuses on the works and life of famed author Ernest Hemingway. The second part will be held in Cooke City, Mont. from Jul. 21-24.

The conference is sponsored by the Hemingway Society, which was started by Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, in 1965, four years after he died. Hemingway had connections to both Sheridan and Cooke City, as well as Wyoming more generally.

“He first came to Wyoming in 1928 and came through Buffalo and then to Sheridan and his purpose was to complete ‘A Farewell to Arms,'” said John Sutton, an organizer of the conference in Sheridan. “He left the Sheridan Inn because it was a little noisy and went back to [the] Folly [Ranch] and then to Spear-O [Wigwam] where he did complete ‘A Farewell to Arms.'”

Hemingway’s career spanned from the mid-1920s through the 1950s. He is considered by many in the literary community to be one of the most prolific writers in American literature, having written such classic works as ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ which reportedly had between 40 to 47 different endings, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ and ‘In Our Time.’

Efforts to get the Hemingway Society to hold a conference in Sheridan have been years in the making from local attendees to previous conferences.

“I started lobbying for it at the Chicago conference in 2016,” Sutton said. “And then I came back and asked Debbie [Isakson, another organizer, and Hemingway Society member], whether it was a possibility to really get that going. We wrote up the proposals in early 2017 and then we wrote the proposal up again. It was announced in Paris in the summer of 2018. We've been planning this for several years.”

Sheridan was initially supposed to host the conference in 2020, which was pushed back a year and delayed yet another, Sutton added. The Sheridan events will include presentations, a film premiere, and talks from authors and researchers that have written or researched Hemingway. Valerie Hemingway, Ernest’s former daughter-in-law who was married to his son Gregory, is also set to attend.

“Darla Worden is going to be here, she’s a local who’s written about Hemingway, a really good book called ‘Cockeyed Happy’,” Sutton said. “We also have Judy Slack who’s done research for Hemingway for years and years in this area. We also have Craig Johnson with the Longmire series and A Martinez [an actor from the Longmire TV series].”

Additional guests, speakers, and presenters include international artist Ron Houser, author Robert Elder, who recently wrote a book about Hemingway in the comics and who will speak and host an exhibit that has his works touring with Comic Con. Anupcoming film based on Hemingway’s ‘Across the River and into the Trees’ will also be screened before it officially premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.

In addition to the official events that are planned as part of the conference, Wyoming Humanities is presenting, "It Looked like Spain but it was Wyoming,” a special event open to the public on Jul. 19.

Isakson and Sutton estimate that there will be approximately 200 attendees, though the pandemic has caused a bit of a dip in attendance. Around 400 people were slated to attend before the onset of COVID-19.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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