The collection came to the University through the great generosity of two donors: Mrs. Ellen Speiser Katz, Maurice J. Speiser's granddaughter, who had maintained the collection in the Philadelphia house Mr. Speiser built in 1931; and Mr. Edward Hallman, a 1950 graduate of the University, in memory of Donald Easterling, through the Easterling-Hallman Foundation.
Maurice J. Speiser (1880-1948) first became acquainted with Hemingway in the late 1920's, in a barber's shop in Hendaye, France. Hemingway struck up a conversation, and Speiser identified himself as a lawyer from Philadelphia. Hemingway, playing on the then-current reputation of Philadelphia lawyers as extraordinarily skilled in the complexities of their profession, responded that he needed a Philadelphia lawyer to assist with his negotiations with the Fox movie studio.
This first encounter initiated two decades of close interaction between the two men. Speiser and his wife Martha Glazer Speiser would soon receive a copy of Hemingway's book A Farewell to Arms (1929), inscribed by the author "with fine memories of Hendaye Plage." In the years that followed, Speiser and his family gradually gathered a great collection of Hemingway's books. Starting with Hemingway's first small-press books—Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923) and in our time(1924), Maurice Speiser assembled a comprehensive collection of Hemingway's works, many with personal inscriptions. He actively sought out, not only the first printings, but advance copies, galleys, salesmen's dummies, British editions, translations, and periodical appearances. The collection was continued and enhanced after his death by his son Raymond A. Speiser. This collection, which has all the Hemingway rarities, in superb condition, could never now be duplicated.
Ernest Hemingway did not have a literary agent, and at times Maurice Speiser performed for him many of the services that an agent would have otherwise handled. Both sides of the correspondence between them—totaling over a hundred letters—are preserved in this collection. Hemingway was one of the most energetic letter-writers in American literature, and even his practical letters to Mr. Speiser frequently include personal, literary or autobiographical observations. Ernest Hemingway's marked typescripts and proofs have particular value for students, teachers, and researchers, revealing the author in the act of perfecting his words. Typescripts for the published and acting revisions of The Fifth Column document the development of Hemingway's only play. Galley proofs for To Have and Have Not, The First Forty-Eight Stories, and For Whom The Bell Tolls will enable researchers to trace authorial and editorial emendations during the publication process for the first printings of Hemingway's books.
Maurice Speiser's archive also preserves letters from other writers and artists: the writers e.e. cummings (thirty letters), William Faulkner, Lillian Hellman, James G. Huneker, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller (over thirty letters), Carson McCullers, Kenneth Patchen, Ezra Pound, John Steinbeck, Edmund Wilson; composers and musicians George Antheil, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, George and Ira Gershwin, Josef Hofmann, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Eugene Ormandy, Serge Prokofieff, Paul Robeson, Arnold Schoenberg, Leopold Stokowski (over seventy letters), Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varese; photographer Edward Steichen; journalist Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's third wife; painter Marc Chagall; and sculptors Constantin Brancusi and Jacob Epstein.
Information about individual items in the collection is available from the online catalog and the finding aid.