View previous topic | View next topic

FAMILY: Leicester Hemingway

Page 1 of 1

348998.  Sat May 31, 2008 6:53 am Reply with quote

Leicester Hemingway (pronounced like the City) was the younger brother of the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, to whom he bore a striking physical resemblance. He once told the Los Angeles Times “It’s a tough act to follow.” But Leicester did his best, becoming a novelist in his own right, authoring six books including The Sound of the Trumpet which was based on his WWII experiences in France and Germany.

Eight months after Ernest’s suicide (Leicester would later take his own life, as did the boys’ father and sister - Ernest Hemingway’s son Gregory died in 2001, dressed as a woman in the women's section of the Miami-Dade county jail) Leicester wrote My Brother, Ernest Hemingway, a biography of his brother that was very well received, and is still thought by some to be the best biography of Ernest. With the considerable proceeds of the book, Leicester founded the micronation of New Atlantis on a raft in the Caribbean.

Not much more than a bamboo raft, anchored by a railroad axle and an old Ford engine block, six miles off the west coast of Jamaica, New Atlantis was one of the closest anyone has ever come to forming a successful micronation. It had six inhabitants, including Leicester’s wife and two daughters, who voted Leicester the first president in 1965.

“There’s no law that says you can’t start your own country,” Leicester told the Washington Post in 1964, and indeed it was an obscure law that led to the island’s inception. The U.S. Guano Islands Act of 1856 allows any US citizen to take possession, on behalf of the U.S. government, of any unoccupied “island, rock or key” on which bird shit was found. Leicester ceded half of his “island” to the US under this law, and kept the other half as his own territory (presumably keeping it clean of bird shit).

Leicester’s wife sewed a flag and he christened its national currency (actually just things that had washed up on the shore) the “scruple,” he thought that rich people should have many scruples. The word scruple is an archaic one meaning “a small amount” or colloquially “a small stone found in someone’s shoe and causing discomfort”. The main reason for the nation was to “make money and have some fun”, but it came closer than most to becoming recognised: Jamaica variously described the project as “good” or “sound” and he once received a note from the White House addressing him as acting president.

The project was scuppered after only a few years when a fisherman dismantled some of the island for firewood; shortly later the whole platform was destroyed by a storm. For the last five years of his life, Leicester focused his attentions on The Bimini Out Islands News, a small monthly newsletter on fishing.

"There are no taxes here, because taxes are for people not smart enough to start their own countries."



Page 1 of 1

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group