Aaron Edward “A. E.” Hotchner (June 28, 1917 – February 15, 2020) was an American memoirist, novelist, playwright, and biographer. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Hotchner graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in both history and law.
Hotchner briefly practiced law before serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Because of his experience writing plays and musicals in college, the Air Corps assigned Hotchner to write a musical for the benefit of war widows. Hotchner eventually transferred into officer training school followed by the anti-submarine command, where he was assigned to make a film about the command. When the war was over, Hotchner decided to forgo the law and pursue a career in writing.
In 1948, Hotchner was sent on assignment to solicit articles from many well-known writers. These writers included Ernest Hemingway, who invited Hotchner to meet, and the two became close friends until Hemingway’s death in 1961. Hotchner is well-known for Papa Hemingway, his 1966 memoir/biography of Hemingway, whose work he exclusively had adapted for plays and television. Hotchner’s play Sweet Prince was produced off-Broadway in 1982 at the Theater Off-Park. King of the Hill, Hotchner’s evocative memoir of his childhood in St. Louis during the Great Depression, was made into a film in 1993, by director Steven Soderbergh.
Over the years, Hotchner also wrote biographies of Doris Day and Sophia Loren, as well as many novels, memoirs, nonfiction books, stage plays, and teleplays. Hotchner’s later books included a shorter memoir on Ernest Hemingway titled Hemingway in Love (2015) and The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom (2018), a novel set in St. Louis of the 1930s. He founded Newman’s Own, Inc., with his friend and neighbor, actor Paul Newman, in 1982, and remained active with the charitable corporation, which donates 100% of its profits.
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.
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.”
Hotch at 100
To celebrate A. E. Hotchner’s centennial birthday in 2017, Washington University interviewed Mr. Hotchner at his home; in 2018 Special Collections turned these interviews into a series called Hotch at 100 on the Modern Literature Collection’s YouTube channel and blog. In these videos, Hotchner recounts some of the major events and settings of his life, interspersed with historical images and scans from the A. E. Hotchner Papers.
Below are links to the Hotch at 100 blog posts with the relevant video embedded in each along with supplemental scans of items from the A. E. Hotchner Papers.