Los Angeles - A 1935 handwritten letter by Ernest Hemingway about a 500-pound Atlantic blue marlin caught in Bimini, which inspired his famous novel, “The Old Man and the Sea,” will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on November 8, 2018.
Hemingway lived on Bimini from 1935-1937 residing at the Compleat Angler Hotel. He wrote, “To Have and Have Not” and a few articles, but spent the majority of his time fishing on his boat “Pilar.” He faced the dilemma of preventing marlins from being“apple-cored” by mako sharks.
Hemingway wrote his classic novel “The Old Man the Sea” in 1951. The semi-autographical novel is about an aging Cuban fisherman and his fight with a gigantic marlin. "Old Man and the Sea" has been noted by Hemingway scholars as most likely inspired by this particular 7 May 1935 trip, including Michael Culver in his biography "Sparring in the Dark: Hemingway, Strater and The Old Man and the Sea."
Hemingway wrote the May 8, 1935 letter to Erl Roman, the Miami Herald’s fishing editor. In the note, Hemingway described the enormous marlin, the attacks by the sharks and also mentioned that he was sending photos to Roman.
The letter reads in part, “Dear Erl: Yesterday May 7 Henry H. STRATER, widely known painter of OGUNQUIT Maine, Pres. Maine Tuna Club, fishing with me on Pilar landed Blue Marlin which weighed 500 lbs on tested scales after all of meat below anal fin had been torn away by sharks when fish was brought to gaff-- Had him ready to take in when sharks hit him-- Fish 12 feet 8 1/2 inches-- Tail 48 inch spread--girth 62 in. (will send all other exact measurements when have chance to use Steel tape on him). Fish hooked off Bimini, hooked in corner of mouth, never layted, jumped 18 times clear, brought to boat in an hour such a heavy fish jumped hell out of himself. We worked him fast our system. Had him at boat when shark hit him. Strater has football knee, went out of joint, had hell with it, we wouldnt handline fish, he got him up himself, in one hour 40 minutes, we got him over the roller after Some lifting boy, all blood drained, meat gone below anal fin to tail, but fish completely intact…”
The two-page letter comes with a black and white photo of the marlin.
Bidding for the letter begins at $30,000.
Additional information on the letter can be found at