A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant (“Tenente”) in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele.
A Farewell to Arms focuses on a romance between Henry and a British nurse, Catherine Barkley, against the backdrop of World War I, cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations. The publication of this, Hemingway’s bleakest novel, cemented his stature as a modern American writer, became his first best-seller, and is described as the premier American war novel of World War I. The novel was first adapted to film in 1932.
Believe it or not, where the novel was written is one of Key West’s best kept secrets! Most would assume his more famous paid tourist attraction home on Whitehead Street, they’d be wrong! Even though it’s posted on the outside alleyway wall (seen below) it’s not facing the road and is missed by almost all.
Seen here is Hemingway’s first Key West residence now called Casa Antiqua, he lived on the second floor corner directly above the door. Hemingway’s first Key West home can be found at 314 Simonton Street on the right hand side of the infamous Pelican Poop Shoppe.