The Ghosts of Hemingway's House

read about the ghosts of Hemingway's House, in Key West

907 Whitehead Street

Now populated by six-toed cats, this Key West villa is an oasis for the otherworldly. Does Ernest Hemingway haunt his former home?

Did You Know

  • Built by notable Key West salvager Asa Tift in 1851.
  • Ernest Hemingway lived here during the 1920s and 30s.
  • The home is now a historic house museum and National Historic Landmark.
  • Fifty six-toed cats live and roam the property.
  • Rumored to be haunted by Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline.

Is the Hemingway Home Haunted?

Those sensitive to spiritual energies claim to hear the tip-tap, click-clack of the typewriter. Is this the poltergeist that waves from the second-story veranda? Others have spotted a six-toed specter, a phantom, furry feline. Some sight a third poltergeist on the property, smoking cigarettes as she stands against the garden gate.

These friendly apparitions are sociably spooky, cordial but creepy. What's haunting the Hemingway House?

The Haunted House of Ernest Hemingway

Allegedly, Hemingway told his friends that he intended to spend his afterlife in the home. Did he keep to his word?

One couple saw Hemingway wave to them from his veranda window in 1961. The couple, unaware of his suicide, waved back. It was only after the news of his death that they realized they'd spotted a Pulitzer-winning poltergeist.

The Ghost Of Ernest Hemingway

Hotel Galvez.
Ernest Hemingway, at his typewriter, posing for the dust jacket of For Whom the Bell Tolls in late 1939.

Visitors now claim to spot Hemingway working at his writing desk, clacking around on his typewriter. His specter wanders throughout the grounds, walking to and from his studio. Others have sighted his poltergeist on the second-floor veranda, where he politely waves to passersby.

Hemingway, who resented "intruders" during life, doesn't seem to mind them during death.

Why Does Hemingway Haunt the House?

Hemingway loved his Key West mansion, making sense that he'd choose to return. It allows him to relax, recollect his memories, and reimagine his writings. Do the sights and sounds of the island soothe his restless specter? He's a laid-back poltergeist, so maybe this is his choice of retirement.

Pauline’s Phantom Sightings

Hotel Galvez.
Ernest and Pauline Hemingway, soon after they were married in 1927.

Hemingway’s love life was far from smooth. While he was married to his first wife the couple became friends with Pauline Pfeiffer, a rich heiress who is said to have pursued Ernest until he fell in love with her.

He wrote about Pauline in his memoir, A Moveable Feast and portrayed her as a mastermind home-wrecker. His first wife wasn’t willing to put up with the love triangle and divorced Hemingway (smart lady!)

Hemingway and Pauline were married in Paris and had two children. Pauline was from a wealthy background and was given their new home in Key West by a rich relative. A writer herself for Vogue, she ended up deserting her own work to put everything she had into Ernest and his career.

Is it a coincidence that his time with Pauline produced the most successful works of his career?

The marriage however didn’t last forever, and Hemingway blamed her for tearing him away from the love of his life. Thirteen years after they wed, news of their split had hit newspaper headlines. Pauline was granted a divorce due to willful, obstinate, and continued desertion from Ernest.

That same year Hemingway’s book For Whom the Bell Tolls was dedicated to another woman, Martha Gellhorn. Less than two weeks after the news of their divorce leaked, Hemmingway married Gellhorn. That had to sting a little.

Pauline continued living in the home after Ernest deserted her. She died of shock (later determined to be a brain aneurysm) after her son was arrested.

Hopelessly devoted to the man she sacrificed her own career for, does Pauline’s spirit remain in the house they shared in Key West? Is she forever watching over Hemingway as he continues working at his typewriter in the afterlife?

Some have spotted the ghost of Pauline in the garden. Butts of her favorite brand litter the pavement, leading some paranormal enthusiasts to claim that she smokes above the sidewalk.

Her specter has been sighted at the garden gate, standing as she arranges her cigarettes. Others have seen Mrs. Hemingway atop the central staircase, where she'd once watch Hemingway write away in his loft. While little is written about Pauline, the Hemingway House was certainly her home and her attachment to the property was obvious.

The Specters of Six-Toed Cats

Hemingway once adopted a six-toed cat from a sea captain, choosing to breed the feline for six-toed kittens. Descendents of the six-toed cat still populate the property, but some claim that Hemingway's original remains.

Hotel Galvez.
A six-toed cat sleeping on a bedspread in the Ernest Hemingway House.

More than 50 cats live on the property today.

Some visitors claim to see a six-toed specter that guards the garden and then vanishes, prowling the property's pet cemetery. Is this the spirit of Hemingway’s cat?

The History of the Ernest Hemingway Home

Built in 1851 by Asa Tift, this two-story Spanish Colonial villa later fell into disrepair. Hemingway purchased the property with Pauline by the 1920s, restoring the run-down estate. He and Pauline lived there with their two sons until 1940, reconstructing and repairing their simmering oasis. Pauline even installed the first swimming pool in Key West.

Here, Hemingway wrote short stories, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," along with the novel To Have And Have Not. He also composed the non-fiction Green Hills of Africa at the property.

In 1940, Hemingway divorced Pauline to move to Cuba with his third wife. Although he returned to Key West throughout his life, he never again called the villa his home. Pauline remained in the house until death, too affectionate towards the property to leave.

The Ernest Hemingway Home Today

After Pauline's death, the mansion was transformed into a historic house museum. Preserved as it was found, it's now a National Historic Landmark. The interiors are furnished with Hemingway furniture, furnishings, memorabilia, and exhibits, allowing visitors a glimpse into Hemingway's life.

Hemingway's trophies are also on display, providing guests an insight into his big game hunting – one of his favorite pastimes.

Guests can peruse the former address of this esteemed American writer, the "macho face of twentieth-century prose." With iron porch railings and Italian marble interiors, it'll impress literary and architectural aficionados alike.

Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home

You'll find the Ernest Hemingway Home at 907 Whitehead Street. It's located in Old Town Key West, so be sure to drop by. Tours are available from nine to five, seven days a week. Let us know if you encounter any paranormal activity!

Our Key West Ghost Tours

Are you visiting Key West? Interested in learning more about the most haunted places on the Island? Join Ghost City Tours on one of our Ghost Tours and see what the excitment is all about!

Get to know Key West's Most Haunted Places

The Porter Mansion, one of the most haunted homes in Key West, Florida.
The Haunted Porter Mansion

Learn more about Key West's most haunted mansion

The Old Monroe County Jail, one of the most haunted places where ghosts are seen in Key West
The Old Monroe County Jail

It is no surprise that the county jail is haunted

The Lighthouse in Key West, said to be haunted by the ghosts of Key West
The Key West Lighthouse

Key West's Haunted Lighthouse