Denver, Colorado – September 27, 2021 – Author Darla Worden began catching tantalizing hints of Ernest Hemingway’s connection to her home state while she was still in high school, but to discover the broader story she had to write it. And her years of research spent uncovering the little-known tale of Hemingway’s Wyoming days revealed another often overlooked story, that of his marriage to his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Acclaim has greeted the publication of Worden’s new book, Cockeyed Happy: Ernest Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline (Chicago Review Press) – from Publisher’s Weekly calling it “an immersive debut” to Wyoming author of the Walt Longmire mysteries Craig Johnson deeming it “streamlined and impacting… a compelling account.”
Worden celebrated the book’s September launch with a reading and party at Denver’s BookBar. The day before, on the official publication date, Esquire weighed in with an in-depth interview that captures Cockeyed Happy’s deep dive into the rarely told perspective of Pauline, whom Worden calls “the invisible wife.” Shunned by their Paris friends – and history – Pauline nevertheless remained “the editor he wanted to edit his work, even after they broke up,” Worden tells the magazine.
In March 1928, after the phenomenal success of The Sun Also Rises, Ernest and Pauline Hemingway returned from Paris to the U.S. amidst gossip surrounding their affair and Ernest’s subsequent divorce from Hadley, his first wife. Wyoming, with its famously wide-open spaces and only intermittent opportunities to communicate with the outside world, offered a special kind of respite, and their time spent riding, fishing and hunting in and around Sheridan, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park quickly became one of their preferred getaways.
Cockeyed Happy traces the arc of Ernest and Pauline’s marriage across the six summers between 1928 and 1939. “These were adventuresome times for the then-ascendant writer, an avid outdoorsman,” writes Esquire. “They were also extremely productive times, as the anonymity of rural Wyoming allowed Hemingway to work uninterrupted on such masterpieces as A Farewell to Arms and Death in the Afternoon.” But “for all its high-spirited anecdotes of the game Hemingway hunted and the cars he crashed, Cockeyed Happy is also the slow burning story of a doomed marriage.”
As chronicled by Worden in Cockeyed Happy (the phrase was a favorite Hemingway riff on the 1920s slang word “cockeyed” for “crazy”), each of the couple’s six summers shows Hemingway in a different place in his writing, as well as a different stage of their marriage – from smitten newlywed to bored, restless husband and ultimately to philanderer as he falls in love with another woman once again.
Pauline’s role through some of his most successful writing years is “huge,” Worden tells Esquire. “And to give up her own work! She was an editor for Vogue, and when she earned her journalism degree, she was one of the first women to graduate from that university’s journalism school. She was accomplished and intelligent. She just fell madly in love with him.”
Wyoming native Darla Worden lives in Denver, Colorado, where she is editor in chief of Mountain Living magazine. Worden also is founder and director of the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris and a journalist known for articles about art, architecture, travel and the West. Her quest to uncover the story of Hemingway’s time in Wyoming was first sparked when she learned the author had actually spent a summer in her hometown of Sheridan and nearby Big Horn, Wyoming. For additional information about Cockeyed Happy and related book events, visit darlaworden.com or follow @darlaworden on Instagram.
Media contact: Anne McGregor Parsons, email@example.com, 303.548.4611