Ernest Hemingway: The Oak Park Legacy is the first extensive examination of the relationship of Hemingway to his hometown, Oak Park, Illinois, and the influence its people, places, and underlying values had on his early work. In this volume, 11 leading Hemingway scholars explore various aspects of these issues, from the migration of the Hemingway family from Connecticut to Illinois in the 1850s, to Hemingway's high-school stories and the dramatic breakthrough of In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises. With these books, Hemingway suddenly became one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. The essays in this collection explore the social and family background that provided the material and sensibility for these literary masterpieces.
In these essays, James Nagel provides the first account ever published of the move of the Hemingway family from Connecticut to Illinois. Writing his account after the discovery of a lost diary by one of Hemingway's ancestors, Nagel explores dates and places, the motivation for the move to the Midwest, and the tragedies that awaited the family there, including the death of two young men in the Civil War. Michael Reynolds, the premiere biographer of Ernest Hemingway, describes the culture of the village of Oak Park at the turn of the century, and Larry E. Grimes presents an important new assessment of the religious training the Hemingway children received. David Marut discusses the short stories Hemingway published while still a highschool student, and Carlos Azevedo, Mary Anne O'Neal, Abby H. P. Werlock, and George Monteiro examine the early stories about Nick Adams. In an insightful afterword, Morris Buske, the Historian of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, reflects on the differing values of Ernest Hemingway's parents, the artistic, cultured Hall family as opposed to the scientific, more practical Hemingways, charting the influence the two traditions had on the young Ernest.