NEW YORK — Mary Hemingway, the journalist wife of author Ernest Hemingway, who long after his death dedicated herself to protecting his image and reputation, has died after a lengthy illness. She was 78.
Mrs. Hemingway will be cremated and her ashes buried next to her husband`s grave in Ketchum, Idaho, said Jack Hemingway, Ernest`s eldest son. She died Thursday in St. Luke`s Hospital in Manhattan.
The former Mary Welsh, she was born on April 5, 1908, in Walker, Minn., the daughter of a lumberman.
She was graduated from Northwestern University and began her career as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News in 1932.
A correspondent for Time and Life magazines who covered the London blitz during World War II, she was Hemingway`s fourth and final wife. Their often rocky marriage produced no children. During that time he wrote several novels, including ``The Old Man and the Sea`` and ``Islands in the Stream.``
The two met in Paris in 1944, a period covered in Mrs. Hemingway`s autobiography, ``How It Was.`` In her book, she described the many high and low points in their relationship.
In an apparent fit of jealousy over her work as a reporter a few years after their marriage in 1946, Hemingway called her a ``scavenger.`` Another time he reportedly smashed her typewriter.
But the couple also shared many adventures, fishing together from his yacht, going to bullfights in Spain and on safari in East Africa, surviving a plane crash in Africa and frequenting celebrity haunts and watering holes.
The two lived for a while in Finca Vigia, Hemingway`s house in Cuba.
Returning to Cuba just a month after Hemingway committed suicide July 2, 1961, she donated his house and land to the country to comply with the author`s legacy. Fidel Castro turned the home into a museum.
Castro, who used to throw worn copies of Hemingway`s selected works into the back of his car when he set out on trips around the island nation, has called Hemingway his favorite author.
Mary Hemingway spent part of the couple`s married life typing his letters, reading his manuscripts and managing the household while trying to maintain her independence in the author`s shadow.
After his death, she worked to uphold his memory and maintained that he had killed himself accidentally while cleaning a gun.
She discovered his body in their Ketchum home in 1961, later writing how she came down the stairs and found him ``a crumpled heap of bathrobe and blood, the shotgun lying in the disintegrated flesh.``
She donated the home to the city of Ketchum, which is considering turning the 8-acre estate into a nature preserve.