Elizabeth Hadley Richardson was born in 1891 in St. Louis, Missouri. As a child she was treated as an invalid (she had fallen from a second-storey window at the age of six). Her mother and sister were close; her “condition” kept Hadley apart. The relationships became even more fractious when Hadley’s father, worried about unsound investments, shot himself when she was only thirteen.
Hadley studied at Bryn Mawr but dropped out after a year; perhaps because of depression, perhaps because of continued feelings about herself as an “invalid”. She returned to St. Louis to live with her mother, nursing her until Mrs. Richardson died from Bright’s Disease in 1920. After her mother’s death, Hadley was tempted up to a friend’s party in Chicago in October to take her mind from her troubles.
It was here she met Ernest Hemingway, a dashing young man (and eight years her junior) who had recently returned from the war in Europe. They fell very quickly, very deeply, in love. “The world’s a jail,” she wrote to Ernest, “and we’re going to break it together.” Nine months later, they were married.
Click on ‘Older Posts’ to read more about Ernest’s marriage to Hadley.