Key West’s Resident Hemingway Expert

By: Jodi Mailander Farrell


If you’re lucky enough to be at Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West when Curator Dave Gonzales is there. please politely stop him and ask a question about the novelist. Then sit back and listen closely.

Hemingway’s home is a National Historical Landmark. Gonzales, who lives on the grounds, is a national treasure when it comes to knowledge about all things Hemingway.

A native Conch born in Key West, he has worked at the house-turned-museum for more than a decade and easily reels off facts, figures and folklore about the island’s most famous writer (which is saying something because 28 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists have called Key West home).

Back in 1928, Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, spent three weeks in Key West waiting for delivery of a car. He used the time to finish "A Farewell To Arms" in the mornings while exploring the island on late afternoons. Hemingway found the place so inspiring that he set up residency there from 1931 to 1939.

Details about Hemingway’s writings, travels and escapades during that span are all stored neatly in Gonzales’ sharp brain, which can also direct you to the best drinking spots on the island and point out which six-toed cat is named for which famous character.

Hemingway was at his most prolific while living in Key West. His experiences, along with the world events that shaped his time and writing, span a timeline that Gonzales has researched and neatly pinned to his office wall, the makings of an informative app about Hemingway’s Key West years that will make a nice resource for visitors – but not nearly as entertaining as a conversation with the home’s resident curator.

More By Jodi Mailander Farrell


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