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Hotch at 100: Adapting “The Battler”

A. E. Hotchner’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway brought Hotch into the literary scene but it also opened a door to an unexpected career in the Golden Age of Television. In this episode of Hotch at 100, our ongoing video interview with author, philanthropist, and Washington University alum A. E. Hotchner, Hotch tells us how his Hemingway connection led to his first job writing for live television, an adaptation of Hemingway’s short story “The Battler” about an encounter with a crazed ex-prize fighter. “The Battler” would not only be the start of a career-long engagement with Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, which Hotch would adapt for television, cinema, and the stage, but also introduced him to up-and-coming actor Paul Newman, who played the role of the Battler, and would become Hotchner’s life-long friend, and eventual co-founder of Newman’s Own.

Title page of “Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Battler'” Adapted by A. E. Hotchner for Playhouse ’56.

The Modern Literature Collection has been acquiring Hotchner’s manuscripts and other papers since 1967. The A. E. Hotchner Papers currently consist of manuscript and editorial material toward the books Papa Hemingway (1966), Treasure (1970), King of the Hill (1970), The Man Who Lived at the Ritz (1981), Looking for Miracles (1975), Choice People (1984), Louisiana Purchase (1996) and Hemingway in Love (2015), as well as scripts for Hotchner’s adaptations of Hemingway materials for television and original plays for television and the stage.

A. E. Hotchner with Ernest Hemingway

Major new acquisitions from Hotchner in 2017 and 2018 include further manuscripts and screenplays, correspondence with Hemingway, photographs and other memorabilia of Hotchner’s time at Washington University, photographs of Hemingway, Newman, Hotchner and others, and many materials related to Hotchner’s long-running charity production of the Hemingway story-cycle “The World of Nick Adams”. These materials are being processed and integrated with the existing A. E. Hotchner Papers.