This letter opens it wide for any con man to destroy us

Today, a humorously paranoid letter from late-author Ernest Hemingway in 1955, to a representative of his bank: Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Hemingway was clearly worried about potential con men ringing the bank in his name, and therefore proposed a fresh identification process to foil any such attempts. The letter ends with a post-script that was obviously ignored.

EDIT: It’s been pointed out by a few readers that the letter is likely a humorously sarcastic response to the bank’s tight security following a failure on Mr. Manning’s part to withdraw money on Hemingway’s behalf. Indeed, it does seem to make more sense when read from that angle. Thanks for the input.

Transcript follows.




Dear Mr. Lord :

Sorry not to have your full and proper name but I do not have the opportunity to visit the bank as much as I should. have had an account with the Guaranty for around 30 some years now but most of the friends I had are dead.

In the future when I should ever call on the telephone to make a request or issue an order I will identify myself as follows: This is Hemingway, Ernest M. Hemingway speaking and my serial number is 0-363. That is an easy number to remember and is not the correct one which a con man might have. A con character would say 364. So we will make it 363. Any character can then ask how many shares I own and I will reply truly to the best of my knowlege. If the bank has made any once contemplated mergers or there has been a split that I had not been informed of I might give an inaccurate answer.

This is getting too much like OSS so if anybody wishes to know whether it is actually Hemingstein speaking I will answer that I am a friend of David Bruce.

I know it is not right to kid with a bank and what your obligations are and I respect them. Hope you were nice to Mr. Manning who was doing me a favour. He was to make a highly legal purchase as a present for my wife which, if we worked fast, would arrive here next Monday evening. He is a very good guy and I hope you had a chance to meet him.

With sincere good wishes, I remain yours always,

(Signed, ‘Ernest Hemingway’)


This letter, of course, opens it wide for any con man to destroy us so please commit it to memory and destroy it.