The Open Kimono
Published in

The Open Kimono

Baby Shoes

and Ernest Hemingway

Photo by Rakesh Sitnoor on Unsplash

Ernest Hemingway has often been credited with this 6-word story to win a bet in a bar: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”1

“…in its terseness, seems to be a perfect encapsulation of not just Hemingway’s economic writing style but also of the man himself…”1 However, the claim is more recent than Hemingway, who died in 1961.

The phrase is found in Papa, a play about him set in 1959, performed in 1996, and written by John DeGroot. DeGroot attributes it to Hemingway but validation fails.

“…the precursor to the story seems to be a 1921 newspaper column by Roy K. Moulton, who ‘printed a brief note”2 referencing “an ad in the Brooklyn ‘Home Talk’ which read, ‘Baby carriage for sale, never used.’“2

or

“‘Miscellaneous Items for Sale’ classified ad column of a Tucson newspaper in 1945:’”1

It is a poignant story, with a beginning, middle, and end, regardless who wrote it.

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Marilyn J Wolf

Marilyn J Wolf

Poet, author, wanderer, always curious. In Celebration of the Death of Faeries is her first book; she is currently editing a second.

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