This is a straight forward enough question, isn’t it? How many books did one of the most famous writers in American history write? Well…maybe not. There are the many books Hemingway wrote that were published in his lifetime, both fiction and non-fiction, but do you count the creative pamphlets (a common practice among many budding authors in the early 1900s), and the books published after his death?
My inclination is to say if it’s book-length, count it, but not everyone feels the same way. There are also collections of Hemingway’s letters and works that were collected after his death – so do those count? They’re all work by Hemingway but were never put together by the man because they weren’t intended to be standalone works, at least not by him.
Generally speaking, it’s agreed upon that Ernest Hemingway wrote at least 16 books, consisting of 7 novels, 6 short story collections, and 3 non-fiction books. Beyond the agreed upon 16 scholars argue about multiple Hemingway works published posthumously meaning the accepted range of published Hemingway books can be as low as 16 or as high as 28, though most put the number at 19-20.
I’m also inclined to put the number at 19, but we will dive deep into the question of how many books did Ernest Hemingway write so you can see why this seemingly simple question causes so much debate.
Let’s get started!
Hemingway’s 16 Agreed Upon Books
Let’s start with the 16 that virtually no one argues about and everyone agrees count as actual books in Ernest Hemingway’s bibliography. No one argues against the fact that he’s done more work, but these are the 16 that are agreed upon as books or book-length works.
- The Torrents of Spring (1926)
- The Sun Also Rises (1926)
- A Farewell to Arms (1929)
- To Have and Have Not (1937)
- For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940)
- Across the River and into the Trees (1950)
- The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
Hemingway’s Short Story Collections
- Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923)
- In Our Time (1924 with 1925 expanded reprint)
- Men Without Women (1927)
- Winner Take Nothing (1933)
- The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938)
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories (1961)
- Death in the Afternoon (1932)
- Green Hills of Africa (1935)
- A Moveable Feast (Published posthumously – 1964)*
*Some would argue that there are only 15 Hemingway works as A Moveable Feast should not be included since it was published after his death, but this is a far minority view as this collection was being worked on heavily by Hemingway when he passed away and is considered part of the base canon of his works.
These were books that were mostly published during his life, or in the case of A Moveable Feast it was all new material that was being prepared by Hemingway when he passed, making it a solid addition to his canon of work.
So why do many people argue the number is in the 20s or even common Google responses fall under the line of “At least X books…”?
Well we’ll dive into that including many books that most people count as being compete enough to be considered part of Hemingway’s list of books, those that are controversial, and those collections of Hemingway published that are generally considered outside collections versus new works from the author.
The Challenges of Numbering Hemingway’s Books
One of the major challenges of deciding how to count Ernest Hemingway’s lifetime collection of written work is the overlap. Because of many short story collections, it wasn’t unusual for short stories in an early book to also be included in a later one, to also be combined to create a later one. So if a collection is 20 short stories but only 2 original ones…do you really count that?
There were also multiple limited runs of long non-fiction articles, short stories, and stories that treaded the line between short story and novella. There is at least one example of a play based on the work, much like the modern day equivalent of writing the screenplay to the movie of your own works. Does this count as a work? Most would say no, but isn’t a play just a different type of novella?
So after that initial list of books that are considered pretty much accepted as part of Ernest Hemingway’s canon of books, what other titles are out there that may or may not be accepted?
Let’s dive in and take a look at a long list of Hemingway works that he was working on and were not published at the time of his death.
Hemingway Books in Dispute
These are “disputed” books, although several of them are accepted by most scholars, collectors, and readers as being a Hemingway released book and therefore should be added to the total. There are others that reprint a lot of old material with a smattering of new stories, and depending on the title being talked about, this can lead to some pretty heated discussions on what should count and what doesn’t.
These generally come in the form of posthumous works, as unlisted Hemingway works on this list done during his lifetime were plays, long short stories, limited editions – works that stand out to collectors of First Edition Hemingway works but not anything that would be generally mistaken for an actual book.
Posthumous Hemingway Novels
There are three major Hemingway novels published after his death, two of which are novels and one of which is nonfiction. Two of them tend to be generally accepted by many scholars and academics as part of the Hemingway canon and one is fiercely debated, especially when the general media reaction is brought in
Islands in the Stream was published in 1970 and is generally considered part of the canon. This is likely the best known of the post-death works with maybe the exception of A Moveable Feast.
The Garden of Eden was a novel published in 1986 and was the culmination of 15 years of writing during his lifetime as he struggled to pull the story together and released multiple other stories and novels during that time.
The Dangerous Summer was released in 1985 and was a non-fiction project that Hemingway had worked on the last two years of his life looking into the real life account of a rivalry between two that resulted in increasingly dangerous tricks and displays that lead to the severe goring of one of them. Bullfighting had long been an interest of Hemingway in life, and by many this is cited as Hemingway’s last novel (Source).
Finally, True at First Light was a non-fiction book published in 1999 and was about his East African safari with his 4th wife in the early 1950s. This book received many negative reviews and actually fired up a debate on how posthumous works should be handled and at what point an edited and later released book should be considered canon or not canon.
Most of these works are considered canon with the biggest arguments coming over True at First Light where there is major debate on whether or not it should be included in academic circles.
Other “Hemingway Books” Published After His Death
There were other collections that are mostly composed of Hemingway works, and some of these are delightful reads, but they are generally not considered part of his canon. This is in part because many of these are collections of past articles, journalistic pieces, or collections of stories/non-fiction pieces from magazines collected in book form.
The short list for these includes:
- Hemingway, The Wild Years (1962)
- By-Line: Ernest Hemingway (1967)
- Ernest Hemingway: Cub Reporter (1970)
- Dateline: Toronto (1985)
- Under Kilimanjaro (2005)
Very few people consider any of these posthumous publications part of Ernest Hemingway’s canon, and Under Kilimanjaro is straight up two editors re-writing an earlier Hemingway work so it’s somehow even less so but for individuals who don’t see any reason while magazine, newspaper, and other non-fiction pieces weaved together shouldn’t count, the other four listed can be debated.
Generally, these are seen as outside collections of Hemingway’s work, but not canon to the author himself and that is a read that makes a lot of sense to me. “Collected Works of X Author” don’t count among the canon of what an author writes so why would those?
When it comes to Ernest Hemingway, it should come as no surprise that an American writer who is that much of a legend has a long history of publishing. While some debates remain on exactly how many books should be credited to Hemingway considering just how much of his writing was published after his death (sometimes many decades after the fact), if someone wanted to answer 16, 19, or 20 to the question of how many books did Ernest Hemingway write, there are valid arguments that could be made for all three of those totals.
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