Long before she was a Hemingway, Hadley Richardson was a smart, quiet and talented young lady. The youngest of five children, her mother had been a singer and musician and would pass the gift onto Hadley as a pianist. Due to financial difficulties her father killed himself when she was just twelve years old leaving her with her very overprotective mother.
Hadley enrolled in Bryn Mawr where she was finally able to spread her wings a bit, but it would be short-lived. Her sister Dorthea was married and had a child and another on the way and would die after a severe burn and would sadly die a few days later, causing Hadley’s mother to panic and force her home from Bryn Mawr.
In October 1920, Hadley was finally free to live her life and went to Chicago to visit her friend Kate Smith for three weeks. One night at a party she would meet the young Ernest Hemingway. Instantly attracted to each other they would see each other often before her return to St Louis. After that they would send letters to each other every day, sometimes 2 to 3 a day. Hadley felt her life had finally begun. Less than a year after they met, they would get married in Bay Township Michigan on September 3, 1921. Spending a few short months in a small apartment in Chicago before leaving for Paris on December 8, 1921.
Much has been written of Hadley’s time in Paris, most of it painting her as the weak woman who went along and was pushed aside. That is far from the truth. Hadley was an amazing, smart, talented and patient woman. Supportive of Hemingway and his writing and travels, but she also had her gift as a wonderful pianist. While Pauline befriended her, locked in her claws and took advantage of Hadley’s sweet disposition, it was Hadley in the end that would put the screws to Pauline.
Hadley would go on to marry again to Paul Mowrer and live out her life happy and content. Ernest and Hadley would stay in touch and share a close relationship until he died. Writing “Hadley was the only woman in his life that didn’t give me trouble”, I believe she was his one true love but he figured it out much too late.
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