Key West, Florida

The drive from Key Largo south through the Florida Keys to Key West is about 100 miles. Highway 1 hops across the islands and through the Everglades.  It is a drive best taken without deadlines.

When you arrive, you are at the southern most point in the USA, 90 miles from Cuba.

Ernest Hemmingway went to live there in 1928 with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Although Hemmingway wrote parts of novels while there, his only novel set in the USA, To Have and Have Not, was written after he left Key West.  In the film of the book, it’s the one were ‘Slim’, says to Harry “You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

The film was only loosely based on the book and its most famous line was actually written by the director Howard Hawks.  To cap that, the scene was shot with Lauren Bacall saying the lines to a contract actor John Ridgely, not Humphrey Bogart.

Tennessee Williams arrived in Key West in 1941, aged 30.  He bought a house there with earnings from his first two major plays, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Williams and Hemingway met only once, in the La Floridita, Hemingway’s favourite bar in Cuba.  Although very different people, it is reported that they found common ground in their health concerns; Williams talking about liver problems, and Hemingway about plane crash injuries.

Tennessee Williams died, aged 71, chocking on a plastic cap from some form of medication.

Painting of Key West Pier