Ernest Hemingway was a man who lived in many wonderful places, and traveled to many more. But the house on Whitehead Street in Key West was of particular importance, both in Hemingway's personal life and in his literary development.
When Hemingway moved from Paris to Key West in the mid-1920s, on the advice of fellow writer John Dos Passos, he was a well-known author but not yet a legend. The house was given to him by the uncle of his second wife--at the time, Hemingway probably could not have purchased it himself.
It was in this ornate, Spanish-style house that Hemingway wrote his 1929 novel "A Farewell to Arms," as well as parts of "Death in the Afternoon," "Green Hills of Africa," and "For Whom the Bell Tolls." It was here, in Key West, the Hemingway developed the obsession with deep-sea fishing for which he is famous, as well as the nickname "Papa," which was bestowed on him at this time by the "Key West Mob," his crew of friends in South Florida who would provide the inspiration for his novel "To Have and Have Not."
The house is filled with Hemingway memorabilia from the more than 20 years in which he occupied the house. Hemingway's typewriter is still there, as are numerous mounted heads and skins from his famed hunting trips in Africa.
On a slightly odder level, the estate is also home to over 60 cats, with names like Pablo Picasso, Hairy Truman and Audrey Hepburn. About half of whom are polydactyls--cats with extra toes. A ship captain once gave Hemingway a six-toed cat, of whom the writer was extremely fond, and from whom these cats are descended. A notoriously hard-drinking man's man, Hemingway was a teddy bear when it came to cats, referring to them as "love sponges" and "purr factories." The cats are given the run of the house, coming and going as they please and lounging about on beds and chairs that are roped off to visitors.