The Episcopal School of Dallas

Eighth graders at The Episcopal School of Dallas had the opportunity to hear from writer, actress, and mental health awareness advocate Mariel Hemingway in a special presentation on campus yesterday.

The students have been studying her grandfather Ernest Hemingway's classic novel The Old Man and the Sea in their English classes, and this visit gave them the rare chance to learn more about the author's life and writing habits. While on campus, Mariel Hemingway spoke about a variety of topics with our eighth graders, ranging from her childhood and growing up with a famous name, to which of her grandfather's books she considers her favorite (spoiler alert: it's A Moveable Feast) and how she believes he helped change the landscape of American literature.

"My grandfather had a profound impact on the way that American authors wrote," she said. "He inspired a shift from the descriptive Old English style of writing to a cleaner, more straight-forward version of storytelling."

Nature is something that greatly influenced Ernest Hemingway's simple but powerful storytelling, both in his writing process and in his stories themselves, which is something Mariel, who is also an author, connects with as well. She grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho and feels that her creativity is at its peak when she is in the mountains; her grandfather spent many of his days outdoors in Cuba, where he was either out on the ocean fishing or playing baseball with Cuban children who often called him "Papa." When Mariel visits Cuba she says it's easy to see how this place informed his writing and enjoys being able to immerse herself in the setting of many of his stories.

After a lively question and answer session, she left our students with a solid piece of advice: "You can learn so much from literature, so keep reading!"