Image Shows George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway During the Spanish Civil War?

An image showing a group of reporters during the Spanish Civil War does feature Ernest Hemingway in the background, but the man holding the puppy is not George Orwell.

Claim

A photograph from the Spanish Civil War shows famed authors George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway in close proximity.

Rating

Miscaptioned About this rating

Origin

An photograph of war reporters on the front line during the Spanish Civil War is frequently circulated with an erroneous caption claiming that famous authors Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell can both be spotted in the image:

George Orwell holds a puppy during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Ernest Hemmingway can be seen in the background.

This image has been circulated with this incorrect caption (including the misspelling of “Hemmingway”) since at least 2013.

This photograph is real, was taken during the Spanish Civil War, and it truly does show Ernest Hemingway in the background: He’s the tall man standing in profile and wearing glasses.

However, the man holding the puppy is not George Orwell. The caption included with this photograph on Getty Images identified Hemingway in the background but made no mention of Orwell or the identities of the three featured men:

circa 1937: Reporters at the front line with Spanish Republican troops. Ernest Hemingway can be seen (in glasses) in the background. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

Orwell and Hemingway were both present during the Spanish Civil War but there doesn’t seem to be any photographs of the two authors together during this time. Orwell joined a militia fighting against General Francisco Franco, while Hemingway traveled to Spain as a reporter:

In December 1936, Orwell traveled to Spain, where he joined one of the groups fighting against General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was badly injured during his time with a militia, getting shot in the throat and arm. For several weeks, he was unable to speak. Orwell and his wife, Eileen, were indicted on treason charges in Spain. Fortunately, the charges were brought after the couple had left the country.

We found no credible sources identifying the man holding the puppy as George Orwell. It appears that this claim may have been based solely on the fact that the pictured man had a thin mustache similar to the one famously worn by Orwell. A side-by-side comparison of the two men, however, shows that they don’t bear much of a resemblance to one another.

There are a few photographs of Orwell during his time in the Spanish Civil War, but we couldn’t find any that gave a clear view of his face. For comparison, we used an image of Orwell in 1941 (four years after this photograph was taken):

The viral image is real, was taken during the Spanish Civil War, and truly does show Ernest Hemingway in the background. However, the featured war reporter holding a puppy is not George Orwell.

Sources
  • DW.   “Why Intellectuals Like Hemingway Got Involved in the Spanish Civil War.”
        15 July 2016.

  • Colls, Robert.   “The War That Made Orwell.”
        Salon.   1 November 2014.

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