Ernest Hemingway: writer, fighter, cat enthusiast, and, according to a newly published collection of WWI love letters, guy who was unceremoniously dumped by mail. It seems that despite their romantic meeting — he was a wounded soldier, she was a nurse — the age difference between the 18-year-old Great American Novelist-to-be and his 26-year-old fiancée Agnes von Kurowsky was too much for the relationship to bear.
Although Hemingway was the one to go on to literary fame (and to use von Kurowsky as his inspiration for Catherine in A Farewell To Arms), Kurowsky was a pretty fantastic writer herself, at least based on her “charmingly frank” breakup letter, published today in the Telegraph. Charming, assuming you are not Mr. Hemingway. After a brief acknowledgement that her news might hurt him, though not “permanently,” Kurowsky pulls no punches: Dude is too young.
For quite a while before you left, I was trying to convince myself it was a real love-affair, because, we always seemed to disagree, & then arguments always wore me out so that I finally gave in to keep you from doing something desperate. Now, after a couple of months away from you, I know that I am still very fond of you, but, it is more as a mother than as a sweetheart. It’s alright to say I’m a Kid, but, I’m not, & I’m getting less & less so every day.
And also, BTW, she’s engaged to someone else. But because she is a master breaker-upper, Kurowsky manages to end on a high note: “I hope & pray that after you thought things out, you’ll be able to forgive me & start a wonderful career & show what a man you really are,” she writes. This is how it’s done, folks.