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‘Can cock my own gun’

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By all accounts, Ernest Hemingway, one of the 20th century’s best known writers, lived an uninhibited, often dangerous life. He boxed and hunted, drank with abandon, and, as a war journalist, even suffered shrapnel wounds. He once used his head as a battering ram against a cockpit door. Eventually, of course, he shot himself in depression. Soon, the public will get a peek of his childhood. The John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston is for the first time making five of Hemingway’s scrapbooks available online. These were donated to the library by the author’s widow, Mary. Reports on this have indicated that the author’s mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, seems to have played an important role in his interest in literature. She started a series of scrapbooks to document the author’s childhood. She describes the day he was born as the day ‘the sun shone and robins sang’. The scrapbooks contain scribblings by the child and notes by the mother. According to them, the future writer was accompanying his father on hunting exhibitions and ‘using long words’ and making ‘sage remarks’ before he was four. According to the Associated Press, a caption accompanying a photograph of his during this time reads, ‘Can cock my own gun’.