FIFE: LIFE AFTER ERNEST
(Clockwise) Fife, Ernest, Bumby, Patrick and Gregory Hemingway – surrounded by giant marlin at Bimini dock, 1935
When Ernest and Martha began to live together in Cuba, Fife had to admit her marriage was now irreparable. Ernest wrote to Mrs Gellhorn that Martha would “never be a dull wife who just forms herself on me like Pauline and Hadley.” Fife granted Ernest a divorce on November 5, 1940; fifteen days later, he was married to Martha, another St. Louis native.
Unlike Hadley, who “felt like a million dollars and was as free as air”, Fife was distraught, and held on to her pain for many years to come. She did not remarry, and dated only seldom. Her biographer, Ruth A. Hawkins, believed her to be still very much in love with Ernest into the 1940s. In 1947, however, Fife made an unlikely friend: Ernest’s fourth wife, Mary Welsh. (They were both graduates of the “Hemingway University”.) Fife and Mary spent lots of time together at the Hemingway home in Cuba and went on shopping trips to San Francisco.
After an explosive argument with her ex-husband in October 1951, Fife died suddenly the next day of a heart attack – the only Mrs. Hemingway not to outlive Ernest. “It’s hard to think of Pauline gone,” wrote John Dos Passos to Ernest, “I was very fond of her. Lord, it seems longer than half a lifetime ago when I first met the dark-haired Pfeiffer girls with you in Paris.”