Mellow argues the genesis of the story began during Hemingway's honeymoon with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and shortly after his divorce from Hadley Richardson. The male protagonist's depiction as a young writer, and the woman's depiction as "attractive, exciting, wealthy" mirrored the days spent in Le Grau-du-Roi with Pauline.
The novel was published posthumously in a much-abridged form in 1986. Hemingway began The Garden of Eden in 1946 and wrote 800 pages. For fifteen years he continued to work on the novel which remained uncompleted. When published in 1986, the novel had 30 chapters and 70,000 words. The publisher's note explains that cuts were made to the novel, and according to biographers, Hemingway had achieved 48 chapters and 200,000 words. Scribner's removed as much as two-thirds of the extant manuscript and one long subplot.
The Garden of Eden, Hemingway's ninth novel, was published in 1986, a quarter century after his death. Scribner's published the novel in May 1986 with a first print-run of 100,000 copies.