From the author's pen, get the true story behind one of the greatest books of all time. 

Meghan Overdeep
November 7, 2018
Hulton Deutsch/Getty Images

An epic piece of Ernest Hemingway history is headed for the auction block in Los Angeles.

Now’s your chance to get your hands on a rare 1935 letter documenting the experience believed to have inspired The Old Man and the Sea. The letter, written by Hemingway to his friend Erl Roman, then fishing editor of the Miami Herald, tells a larger-than-life tale of his friend’s battle with a 500-pound Atlantic Blue Marlin in the Bahamas.

From his boat “Pilar,” Hemingway recounted how his friend, the painter Henry Strater, struggled to catch the fish, as well as the shark attack that occurred while the giant fish was being hauled onboard.

Nate D. Sanders Auctions

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The Pulitzer Prize -winning author goes on to explain that the fish likely would have weighed between 700 and 900 pounds, had some of its meat not been torn off by sharks.

“Importantly, Hemingway's account of the marlin catch differs from other anecdotal stories of it, one of which describes Hemingway using a ‘machine gun’' on the shark, which purportedly attracted more sharks to the feeding frenzy,” the auction house wrote in the official lot description. “It's likely Hemingway left out this detail, as Strater would blame its use on attracting more sharks to the marlin, depriving Strater of a world record marlin catch.”

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Nate D. Sanders Auctions

The signed, two-page autograph letter is written entirely in pencil and is accompanied by its original envelope as well as a black-and-white photo of the history-making catch. The auction, hosted by Nate D. Sanders Auctions, will take place on November 8th.  Bidding for the letter starts at $30,000.