Valerie Hemingway recalls seeing the author surrounded by beautiful women as his wife stood by their marriage. "There were beautiful women around and Mary was -- she tolerated -- but always with a smile," she says, "with a certain amount of underlying sarcasm. She knew she could wait out any of these people."
That included Dietrich, who writes to Hemingway in August 1952: "I want to put my arms around you and my heart. I want to kiss you forever and a day for the beauty that is in you … I can't love you more than I do or deeper or longer … "
Romance aside, the Hemingway letters also reveal the quirkiness of the famed novelist. They are typed with several spaces between each word including punctuation. Putnam speculates this was for editing purposes, so Hemingway could go back and handwrite any changes.
He adds the letters reveal "more about the genius of the man."
The last correspondence was a Christmas card that Hemingway sent to Dietrich in 1959 from Ketchum, Idaho, where he lived with his wife, Mary. It is engraved with his and Mary's name and handwritten above the names it said, "and all good lucks [sic] and old and new loves."
Dietrich's last known correspondence to Hemingway was a scrawled, urgent handwritten letter written in April 1961 that she sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where Hemingway was being treated for depression.
She writes, "Papa, what is it? Whatever it is -- I don't like it." She also offers to come see him at the clinic.
Dietrich never got a response. A few months later, at age 61, Hemingway died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.