Lot 379

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Ernest Hemingway "The Old Man and the Sea" Film Rights Signed & Dated 1 Month Before Receiving Nobel Prize For Book

A 1p typed carbon copy of a legal agreement boldly signed by American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), as "Ernest Hemingway," above his printed name "Ernest Hemingway" in the bottom left corner. September 24, 1954. N.p. Countersigned by Leland Hayward (1902-1971), the Hollywood movie producer of "The Old Man and the Sea." On watermarked onion skin paper. Isolated gentle folds, wrinkles, and a few chipped edges. Minor ghost ink impressions verso not affecting the legibility of the text. The actual size of the agreement is 8.5" x 11." Professionally matted in a cream and gilt-edged mat measuring 21.25" x 16.25" x .75" overall, and displayed to the right of a high-quality vibrantly-colored photo reproduction of the first edition Charles Scribner's Sons book cover of "The Old Man and the Sea," ca. 1952.

Ernest Hemingway signed this agreement confirming an important change to the terms of an earlier contract with Leland Heyward dated April 17, 1953: a 1-year extension, from September 30, 1955 to September 30, 1956. The agreement is addressed to the care of Alfred Rice (1907-1989), the New York copyright attorney who represented Hemingway from 1945 until his 1961 suicide, and afterward represented Mary Hemingway until 1969.

Hemingway had written "The Old Man and the Sea" in 1951, and the novella was published in both serial magazine form and book form in 1952. Hemingway's story was about an elderly Cuban fisherman named Santiago who hunted and captured an 18'-long marlin, only to lose its carcass through shark attacks. The adventure story was a true fish tale that recalled other epic contests between humans and animals, such as Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." "The Old Man and the Sea" had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in May 1953, and Hemingway would also receive the Nobel Prize in Literature for the same work one month later, in October 1954.

The Warner Brothers film adaptation of "The Old Man and the Sea" was released in August 1958, with major city premieres in October 1958. The movie was produced by Leland Hayward, directed by John Sturges, and based on a screenplay by Peter Viertel adapted almost verbatim from Hemingway's original prose. Hemingway's roles in the movie production included that of a technical adviser, as well as a second unit director (open-water fishing sequences). Hemingway also advised the cast, which included Spencer Tracy in the role of Santiago, during filming in Cuba.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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September 6, 2023 11:00 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

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