Hemingway's clean, well-lighted places
Ernest Hemingway was an author, a war correspondent and one of the most important personalities of the XX century. His understated style changed fiction forever and his adventurous life, as well as his public image, influenced all later generations.
Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s: he published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works, which were published posthumously together with three of his novels.
Many of his works are landmarks of American and international literature and he went through almost sixty two years of life with his unmistakable style.
He was born on 21st July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, and took his own life in 1961.
The sense of adventure and romance that punctuated much of his fiction is also embodied, since fifteen years ago, in a 66-piece collection produced by Thomasville Furniture industries.
The Ernest Hemingway series is the result of years of research and development, certified by an eclectic, widely exotic, sophisticated and masterfully developed set of furniture, which, according to the producer, is mostly inspired by where the author of For Whom The Bell Tolls lived rather than by what he actually had in his homes.
The collection is arranged into four broad categories, named by places where the greatest writer of his generation lived at different times, Ketchum, Havana, Key West and Kenya, and is shown on Thomasville Furniture industries website with reference to the rooms they are addressed to: living, dining and bedroom.
The actual set is a reintroduction of the highly successful first collection presented in October 1998 to celebrate the then forthcoming centennial anniversary of Hemingway’s birth: the 2004 revival was prompted by the fact Thomasville Furniture Industries were entering their own one hundredth year of activity too, as well as by the fiftieth recurrence of Hemingway’s Nobel Prize awarding for The Old Man And The Sea.
Thomasville Furniture Industries, once named Thomasville Chair Co., opened as a small factory. Ending up owing two local farmers, T.J. Finch and his brother, C.F. Finch, $ 2.000 for lumber, the company, since they couldn’t pay their debts, offered the Finch brothers to take stock instead: they accepted and also decided to buy out the other stockholders.
Business improved immediately under the Finch family, who made several acquisitions, with sales topping $ 1 million by 1917 and the company becoming the largest furniture concern in the city, giving it the nickname of Chair City.
To survive the Big Depression, the company stopped paying dividends to stockholders and management took a pay cut. By the 1930s, the company improved its quality of furniture, emphasizing design and finish and conducting classes that taught employees new and better manufacturing techniques.
In 1941, Thomasville Chair Co. went to war with the rest of the country, making items requested by the federal government, including bunk beds for the army and tent stakes. With many men serving in the war, the first group of women began work in March 1942.
The new headquarter was completed in 1974 and the current management explains that Ernest Hemingway Collection is inspired, a said, by his travels in Europe, safaris in Africa, his fishing and hunting adventures in Key West and Havana, as well as his time as a war correspondent in London.
Amid the above mentioned categories, the Ketchum one includes almost exclusively upholstery items, amongst which there is a framed chair retrieving the days Papa – one of Hemingways’ nicknames – spent fishing and skiing and hanging out at the Sun Valley Lodge.
The Key West’s wood pieces recall a British Colonial look and the Havana’s claim a Central American background in its style. Last but not least, Kenya collection include a number of articles made with outlandish materials and developed in an oversized and masculine scale.
The large Kilimanjaro bed is made with a woven reed that forms the footboard and headboard, topped with a large, metal ostrich egg-shaped finial.
After more than fifty years since the dawn of 2nd July 1961, it’s nice to think Hemingway would have enjoyed lying on one of these beds to give is sore back a rest and finally dream about lions.