Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Hemingway archive opens in Cuba

Ernest Hemingway (file image)
Hemingway spent 20 years of his life living in Cuba

Cuba has opened up electronic access to thousands of documents belonging to the writer Ernest Hemingway, who wrote some of his greatest works on the island.

The archive includes photographs, letters and manuscripts, as well as an unpublished epilogue to Hemingway's novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The items had been stored in the cellar of the writer's Cuban home for decades.

Curators say the files offer an insight into Hemingway's life on the island, where he lived for 20 years.

"We are talking about 3,194 pages of documents, close to 2,000 plus of documents, some already digitalised," said Ada Rosa Alfonso Rosales, director of the Museo Ernest Hemingway in Havana.

"For practically the first time, this is being made available to students and researchers," she said.

Another 1,000 documents are still to be scanned and added to the archive, Ms Alfonso said.

The archive includes coded messages which Hemingway sent while using his yacht to search for German submarines operating off the island.

Academics and researchers will be able to request electronic copies of the items from Cuba's Heritage Council.

Ms Alfono said the archive would "shed light on the Cuban period of Hemingway, which was very important and not well known by his biographers".

The project is a joint operation with Heritage Council and the US Social Science Research Council as part of a 2002 agreement to preserve the original material.

CDs and microfilms of the documents have also been sent to the John F Kennedy library in Boston and could eventually be made available online, said Ms Alfonso.

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