Ernest Hemingway Biography & Facts
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonfiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.
Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he was a reporter for a few months for The Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian Front to enlist as an ambulance driver in World War I. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).
In 1921, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson, the first of four wives. They moved to Paris where he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s' "Lost Generation" expatriate community. His debut novel The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926. He divorced Richardson in 1927. He married Pauline Pfeiffer. They divorced after he returned from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), which he covered as a journalist and which was the basis for his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940. He and Gellhorn separated after he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. Hemingway was present with Allied troops as a journalist at the Normandy landings and the liberation of Paris.
Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida (in the 1930s) and in Cuba (in the 1940s and 1950s). He almost died in 1954 after plane crashes on successive days, with injuries leaving him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. In 1959 he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho where, in mid-1961, he died by suicide with a shotgun.
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, an affluent suburb just west of Chicago, to Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a physician, and Grace Hall Hemingway, a musician. His parents were well-educated and well-respected in Oak Park, a conservative community about which resident Frank Lloyd Wright said, "So many churches for so many good people to go to." When Clarence and Grace Hemingway married in 1896, they lived with Grace's father, Ernest Miller Hall, after whom they named their first son, the second of their six children. His sister Marcelline preceded him in 1898, followed by Ursula in 1902, Madelaine in 1904, Carol in 1911, and Leicester in 1915. Grace followed the Victorian convention of not differentiating children's clothing by gender. With only a year separating the two, Ernest and Marcelline resembled one-another strongly. Grace wanted them to appear as twins, so in Ernest's first three years she kept his hair long and dressed both children in similarly frilly feminine clothing.
Hemingway's mother, a well-known musician in the village, taught her son to play the cello despite his refusal to learn; though later in life he admitted the music lessons contributed to his writing style, evidenced for example in the "contrapuntal structure" of For Whom the Bell Tolls. As an adult Hemingway professed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael S. Reynolds points out that he shared similar energies and enthusiasms.
Each summer the family traveled to Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan. There young Ernest joined his father and learned to hunt, fish, and camp in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan, early experiences that instilled a life-long passion for outdoor adventure and living in remote or isolated areas.Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park from 1913 until 1917. He was a good athlete, involved with a number of sports—boxing, track and field, water polo, and football; performed in the school orchestra for two years with his sister Marcelline; and received good grades in English classes. During his last two years at high school he edited the Trapeze and Tabula (the school's newspaper and yearbook), where he imitated the language of sportswriters and used the pen name Ring Lardner, Jr.—a nod to Ring Lardner of the Chicago Tribune whose byline was "Line O'Type". Like Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway was a journalist before becoming a novelist. After leaving high school he went to work for The Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. Although he stayed there for only six months, he relied on the Star's style guide as a foundation for his writing: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."
World War I
In December 1917, Hemingway responded to a Red Cross recruitment effort and signed on to be an ambulance driver in Italy, after having failed to enlist in the U.S. Army because of poor eyesight. In May 1918 he sailed from New York, and arrived in Paris as the city was under bombardment from German artillery. That June he arrived at the Italian Front. On his first day in Milan, he was sent to the scene of a munitions factory explosion to join rescuers retrieving the shredded remains of female workers. He described the incident in his 1932 non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon: "I remember that after we searched quite thoroughly for the complete dead we collected fragments." A few days later, he was stationed at Fossalta di Piave.
On July 8, he was seriously wounded by mortar fire, having just returned from the canteen bringing chocolate and cigarettes for the men at the front line. Despite his wounds, Hemingway assisted Italian soldiers to safety, for which he was decorated with the Italian War Merit Cross, the Croce di Guerras. He was still only 18 at the time. Hemingway later said of the incident: "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you ... Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you." He sustained severe shrapnel wounds to both legs, underwent an immediate operation at a distribution center, and spent five days at a field hospital before he was transferred for recuperation to the Red Cross hospital in Milan.He spent six months at the hospital, where he met and formed a strong friendship with "Chink" Dorman-Smith that lasted for decades and shared a room with future American foreign service officer, ambassador, and author Henry Serrano Villard.While recuperating he fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senio.... Discover the Ernest Hemingway popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ernest Hemingway books.