Flash Fiction

Hemingway Didn’t Write ‘Baby Shoes, Never Worn’

It’s been called the world’s shortest short story: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” It’s been attributed to that most minimal prose stylist, Ernest Hemingway. The legend that he won a bet that he could write a story in six words sounds true, but is it true? The Quote Investigator researched the matter and concluded that there's no substantive evidence that Hemingway wrote that story. An article on similar short-short stories appeared as early as 1917 by William R. Kane, and the story title that Kane suggested was “Little Shoes, Never Worn." In 1921, newspaper columnist Roy K. Moulton pointed out that a classified, “Baby carriage for sale, never used,” embodied the plot of a story. “The Hemingway anecdote ... probably evolved.”