The Rocky Mountain West has drawn the famous and infamous, all seeking solace from the hustle and bustle of the lower elevations. And that was also true for Ernest Hemingway, who in 1928 escaped to Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains to write and escape into the trout-laden streams and wild valleys near Sheridan, Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole.
“I had found a collection of letters written by Hemingway at a garage sale,” said Darla Worden, author of the forthcoming book “Cockeyed Happy: Ernest Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline.”
“I couldn’t believe that Ernest Hemingway was in my hometown and no one ever told me,” she said of growing up in Sheridan.
An avid fan of the author, Worden founded Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, a retreat that explores Hemingway’s favorite Parisian places where he would spend time writing. But to know that he also waded into the Rocky Mountains for six summers was a new story she had to investigate.
“Darla Worden’s ‘Cockeyed Happy,’ about Ernest Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline, portrays not only a marriage but also a landscape rarely examined in his life and work,” said Steve Paul, author of “Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend,” wrote in an early review. “Worden briskly and engagingly conveys how the hunting grounds and fishing streams of rugged Wyoming shaped Hemingway’s writing life, burnished friendships and backdropped this not-forever-happy relationship.”
Worden’s book begins in 1928, after the phenomenal success of Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises.” At this time he and his new wife, Pauline Hemingway, had returned from Paris to the U.S. amid the gossip surrounding the American author’s affair with her and subsequent divorce from his first wife.
Wyoming, with its wide-open spaces and only intermittent opportunities to communicate with the outside world, offered the newlyweds a respite. They rode, fished and hunted in and around Sheridan and Yellowstone and stayed at the Nordquists’ L Bar T Ranch outside Cody, where he worked on “To Have and Have Not” in 1936.
“Cockeyed Happy” will be published by the Chicago Review Press in September. Worden has two book signings scheduled during the Fall Arts Festival. The first will be hosted at the Western Design Conference on Friday, Sept. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m.; and the other at Valley Bookstore on Saturday, Sept. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. ￼