Lasting Legacies: The A.E. Hotchner Papers

Photograph of A.E.Hotchner working on Eliot literary magazine, circa 1938. Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers.

In anticipation of the official opening of the newly transformed Olin Library on May 1, 2018, this blog series will preview some of the new spaces and exhibitions. Lasting Legacies, the inaugural exhibition of the Thomas Gallery on Level 1 of John M. Olin Library, pays tribute to seven influential Washington University alumni whose work has enriched their respective professions and communities.

Lasting Legacies celebrates Washington University alumni’s unique passions, diverse accomplishments, and intellectual curiosityand will be on view through Fall 2018.


A.E. Hotchner in St. Louis

Cover of Hotchner’s 1972 memoir, King of the Hill.

A.E. Hotchner (1917–) is a memoirist, novelist, playwright and biographer who adapted numerous Ernest Hemingway stories for stage and screen. Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers includes drafts of some of his most popular books as well as scripts for Hotchner’s adaptations of Hemingway materials for television.

Hotchner is both a St. Louis native and a Washington University in St. Louis alum. His 1972 memoir, King of the Hill recounts a childhood spent in St. Louis during the Great Depression when he lived by himself in a hotel room. This memoir was picked up by director Steven Soderbergh, who turned it into a 1993 film of the same name, much of which was filmed right here in St. Louis.

Developing a Writing Career

Hotchner attended Washington University in the late 1930s, where worked on staff at the Eliot literary magazine with fellow Washington University student and future playwright Tennessee Williams. After graduating from Washington University in 1940 with degrees in history and in law, Hotchner passed the Missouri bar exam and briefly practiced law in St. Louis before leaving to serve as a journalist in the US Army Air Corps during WWII. When he returned home, he decided to give up law to pursue a career in writing.

A.E. Hotchner and Ernest Hemingway. Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers.

In 1948, Hotchner met and became close friends with author Ernest Hemingway. In the 1950s and early 60s, with Hemingway’s express and exclusive approval, Hotchner adopted many of Hemingway’s short stories and novels for stage, screen and television. After Hemingway’s death, Hotchner published what would become his best-known biography/memoir, Papa Hemingway (1966), about their friendship.

An exert from Hotchner’s Papa Hemingway, printed in The Saturday Evening Post shortly before the book’s publication, March 12, 1966.  Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers.

Over his long career, Hotchner has written a total of seventeen books, including two memoirs about his relationship with actor Paul Newman, with whom he created Newman’s Own food brand. In Paul and Me, Hotchner recounts how he and Newman began selling the homemade salad dressing Newman periodically made for his neighbors as a joke. Although he claims that neither of them had any entrepreneurial skills, the product took off, and they soon found themselves in charge of the first full-fledged business selling exclusively all-natural foods with all profits (over $500 million to date) going to charity.

Cover of Paul and Me, Hotchner’s memoir about his friendship with the actor Paul Newman.

Hotchner recently turned 100 years old, and he has never stopped writing. His most recent memoir, Hemingway in Love, was published in 2015. It details Hemingway’s love affair in Paris that destroyed his first marriage, which Hotchner kept a secret for over 40 years out of respect for Hemingway’s widow. This summer, Penguin Random House will publish The Adventures of Aaron Broom, a murder mystery set in 1930s St. Louis.

A recently acquired letter [photocopy] from Ernst Hemingway to A.E. Hotchner. Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers.

New Items in the Hotchner Collection

Because Hotchner is a living author, the A.E. Hotchner Papers is continually growing. New acquisitions this year include additional manuscripts, photographs and other memorabilia of Hotchner’s time at Washington University, photographs of Hemingway, and many materials related to Hotchner’s charity production of “The World of Nick Adams.” Come see more of the Hotchner collection in the Olin Library Thomas Gallery!

A selection of newly acquired materials from A.E. Hotchner, including the playbill to his production of “Let ’em Rot,” a witty play about divorcees. Washington University Libraries’ A. E. Hotchner Papers.

The Thomas Gallery fosters discovery and inspiration through the display of Washington University Libraries’ vast and distinct collections. The exhibition space is stewarded by the Department of Special Collections and is a lively pathway that spans the distance between the north and south entrances of John M. Olin Library.

About the author

Rose is a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. When she is not working on her dissertation on post-1945 asylum novels or blogging about the amazing materials in Special Collections, she fills much of her time reading, writing, gardening, and wrestling.