Hemingway Letters Project Awarded an NEH Grant

National Endowment for the Humanities awards grant for ongoing publication of Nobel laureate’s complete correspondence

University Park, PA (August 8, 2018): The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, the authorized edition of the famed American writer’s complete outgoing correspondence, has been awarded a three-year Scholarly Editions grant of $275,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Headquartered at The Pennsylvania State University and published by Cambridge University Press, The Letters are a comprehensive scholarly edition of the some 6,000 surviving letters of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)—about 85% previously unpublished. 

“The letters not only provide important new biographical information and insights into the artistic achievement of this most influential American writer, they constitute a running eyewitness history of much of the twentieth century,” says Sandra Spanier, General Editor and Liberal Arts Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University. “Unguarded and never intended for publication, Hemingway’s letters track his story in real time. They record experiences that inspired his art, afford insight into his creative process, and express his candid assessments of his own work and that of his contemporaries. And they reveal a far more interesting and complex person than Hemingway’s sometimes one-dimensional, tough-guy public persona would suggest.”

“Since it was established, the Letters Project has afforded exciting educational opportunities for more than 20 graduate research assistants and more than 50 undergraduate interns to have hands-on involvement in a major research project,” Spanier said.  “At the biennial International Hemingway Conference, held in Paris last month and attended by 500 registrants, two sessions were devoted to the Letters Project, and seven of our current and former graduate students gave presentations.”  

Spanier and Associate Editor Verna Kale are serving as advisors to a forthcoming PBS documentary biographical film on Hemingway directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Burns and Novick.

The three-year grant will support the work on Volumes 5 through 7, encompassing Hemingway’s letters from 1932 through May 1941 as well as ongoing work on later volumes.  Published at two-year intervals, volumes 1-4 (spanning 1907-1931) were published between 2011 and 2017 and had previously received support from the NEH.  A total of 17 volumes is planned.

A 1954 Nobel Laureate, Hemingway made a profound impact on modern prose and still commands enormous popular as well as scholarly interest worldwide. 




Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.