The Hadley Tapes

In an article coinciding with the release of the new edition of A moveable Feast last July, Gioia Diliberto writes that “The wrenching love story between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway is one of the most poignant in American literary history.” Diliberto wrote a well researched and fascinating biography about Hadley’s life before and after her marriage to Ernest. Her book was published in 1992, titled Hadley.In her article, Diliberto mentions The Hadley Tapes, which are several hours of recorded interviews and conversation between Hadley and her friend, Alice Hunt Sokoloff. When Dilbiberto was writing her book, she visited Sokoloff, “ a cultured, sophisticated grandmother then in her 70s, in her apartment in Katonah , N.Y.” writes Diliberto, “ We spent a couple of hours talking, and when I got up to leave, Alice astounded me by handing me a box of tapes. “I think you’ll find these very interesting,” she said with a wry smile.Diliberto took the tapes home and listened to them, carefully transcribing Hadley’s words. “Here was the real Hadley – wittier and more astringent than the Hadley of “A Moveable Feast,” but also just as warm, melancholy and intelligent.” She writes. The conversations between Alice and Hadley took place in 1971 and 72, when they were neighbors in New Hampshire.The story of Hadley’s five year marriage to Ernest is indeed a love story but it is also the story of Hadley’s awakening into her own strength and self worth. Hadley and Ernest nurtured each other and were both deeply transformed by their experiences in Europe. During their marriage they met some of the most dynamic people of their time, and they shared adventures in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, hiking, skiing, fishing and traveling. They attended bullfights, bet on horses, watched boxing matches and bicycle races, drank with writers and painters in Paris, and eventually had a child together.
Yes, Ernest became famous after The Sun Also Rises was published, but Hadley became real.  Their story is bittersweet to observe, and why I love reading about Hemingway’s early years so much.
Which leads me back to the Hadley Tapes. From the moment I knew of their existence, I have wanted to hear them. In December, I found out that the tapes were eventually donated to the JFK Library in Boston. I am now able to listen to Hadley’s voice, to hear her tell her own story in her own words. Let’s listen together –
Note: To read more about The Hadley Tapes, click “Hadley Tapes” on the search bar to the right.