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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 12:48 GMT
Cuba agrees Hemingway deal
Fidel Castro with Ernest Hemingway's niece, Hillary
Castro has read For Whom the Bell Tolls three times
Cuba has agreed to a US-funded project to preserve thousands of Ernest Hemingway's artefacts, including a rejected epilogue for his classic work For Whom the Bell Tolls.

President Fidel Castro joined Hemingway family members and US congressman James McGovern to make the announcement at a ceremony on the writer's Havana estate.

Under the agreement, all Hemingway documents will be copied by digitalisation and microfilm and copies stored in the JFK Library in Boston.

The conservation plan includes the restoration of the wooden power boat Hemingway used for deep sea fishing and for occasionally patrolling German submarines among the islands of the Gulf Stream during World War II.

Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway made Cuba his home

More than 2,000 documents, including manuscript material and letters from Hemingway to his wife, Mary, and son, Gregory, his editor Max Perkins and Adriana Ivancich, the young Italian countess he was in love with, will also be preserved.

The bookshelves at Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm), Hemingway's nine-acre estate in San Francisco de Paula, also hold more than 9,000 books, many annotated in the margins by the Nobel prize-winning novelist.

There are some 3,000 photographs and undeveloped negatives in the house as well as bullfighting paintings, antelope heads from hunting trips to Africa and unfinished bottles of gin, Campari and Bacardi.

The manuscript material found on Hemingway's estate is expected to shed light on the final years of the writer's life.

Grateful

After Hemingway's death, his widow gave the property and its belongings to the young revolutionary government of Fidel Castro.

Today it is a museum, although the public can only glimpse the interior through the windows.

Cuban curators preserved the home exactly how the Hemingways had left it, looking like the writer had "just stepped down the drive to pick up his mail", according to Jenny Phillips, granddaughter of Hemingway's editor.

Phillips hopes to raise $500,000 (319,610) through donations to fund the project. The Rockefeller Foundation has already given an initial grant of $75,000 (48,000).

US congressman James McGovern helped bring about the agreement between the Cuban Government and members of Hemingway's family.

He said Cuban and American people had been kept apart for too long "by political emnity and rhetoric".

Speaking at the ceremony, which he attended in his trademark green military fatigues, President Castro said he had "many things to be grateful to Hemingway for".

The 76-year-old revealed he had taken For Whom the Bell Tolls into the hills of eastern Cuba with him in his days as a guerrilla fighter.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sunita Nahar
"They will restore damaged documents and help conserve Hemingway's house"
See also:

01 May 02 | Entertainment
14 Jan 02 | Americas
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