Birth Name: Ernest Miller Hemingway
Born: July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois
Died: July 2, 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho
Time Period: Modern
Expertise: Editor, Essayist, Journalist, Military Ambulance Driver, Nobel Laureate, Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer
Known For: A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises
Interesting quotes by Ernest Hemingway
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”
“I love to go to the zoo. But not on Sunday. I don’t like to see the people making fun of the animals, when it should be the other way around.”
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”
“Death is like an old whore in a bar--I’ll buy her a drink but I won’t go upstairs with her.”
“All right. Have it your own way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs.”
“Got tight on absinthe last night. Did knife tricks.”
A brief biography of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. Hemingway was a journalist, novelist and occasionally wrote poetry. His writing was unique and low-key in style, which he referred to as an, “iceberg theory.” It was a writing technique he developed—maintaining minimalism, while putting the spotlight on the surface rather than explaining a hidden theme. Hemingway stated: “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.” He created the bulk of his work between 1920 and the mid-1950s, producing his novel, The Sun Also Rises in 1926—perceived by many as Hemingway’s best work. The New York Times said, “No amount of analysis can convey the quality of The Sun Also Rises. It is a truly gripping story, told in a lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame.” It only took Hemingway eight weeks to complete it.
Ernest Hemingway was born to Clarence and Grace Hall Hemingway. His father was a physician, his mother was a musician, and both were scholarly, esteemed members of the community. Ernest was named after his maternal grandfather, Ernest Hall. As a child, his family would take vacations to Walloon Lake in Michigan. Ernest enjoyed spending time with his father fishing, hunting and camping in the woods. These memorable times for young Hemingway implanted a deep-rooted affection for the outdoors and residing in secluded territories. Hemingway was a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He was a well-rounded student and participated in many activities, including sports—from boxing to football—and performed in the school orchestra. Hemingway was also the editor for his school’s newspaper as well as the yearbook. After graduation, he worked as a writer for The Kansas City Star.
In December of 1917, Ernest decided he would answer to a recruitment from the Red Cross and become an ambulance driver in Italy. He previously tried enlisting in the Army, but was unable to serve due to his weak eyesight. The following summer, Hemingway got severely injured by mortar fire while bringing soldiers cigarettes and chocolate. Even though he was badly hurt, he still aided the Italian soldiers to safety. His act of bravery and determination earned him the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery at the age of eighteen. Ernest later recounted the episode: “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.” It would take Hemingway six months to recover from his injuries, and in 1919 he returned home.
Upon his return, Ernest was offered a job in Toronto as a staff writer for the Toronto Star Weekly. While he worked for the paper, he moved to Chicago, where he would gain another job working as an associate editor for Cooperative Commonwealth. After a few months, Hemingway married his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in 1921. A couple months later, he continued working for the Toronto Star Weekly as a foreign correspondent, allowing the newly wed couple to move to Paris, France. While starting his new life in Paris, Ernest would run into Ezra Pound—American poet, at Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore in Paris. They began an endearing friendship, with Pound introducing him to Irish writer, James Joyce. At some point in 1922, when Hemingway’s wife was traveling to meet him in Italy, she lost a suitcase full of his writing. This shattered him. In 1923, Hemingway published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems—two of the three stories were all that remained from the lost suitcase. In 1925, he met F. Scott Fitzgerald—American novelist. Within the same year of forging their friendship, F. Scott Fitzgerald published his novel, The Great Gatsby. Hemingway consumed the novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. Consequently, he was inspired, and decided his next written work would be a novel. That’s when Hemingway wrote his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, which was published in 1926.
In 1927, Hemingway and his wife divorced. In May he married another woman whom he was having an affair with, Pauline Pfeiffer-journalist for Vogue and Vanity Fair. On their honeymoon, Hemingway caught anthrax. During that time, he prepared his next compilation of short stories and published Men Without Women, in late 1927.
By 1939, Ernest was ready to move on, he met Martha Gellhorn—journalist and novelist. He was splitting from his second wife and decided to go to Cuba. Martha eventually went to Cuba to join him. They rented a fifteen acre farm called “Finca Vigía”. Soon after in the summer, Hemingway went to Wyoming to see his children and finalize the divorce between him and his second wife. Later that year in November, Hemingway married Martha Gellhorn in Wyoming. The couple then moved to Ketchum, Idaho. Before his marriage to Gellhorn, he wrote and published another well-known novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls. His second novel was a great success, it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and was selected for Book of the Month Club. Hemingway sold half a million copies of the novel in a short period. In 1945, Hemingway met Mary Welsh—Time magazine correspondent, while he was in London. He was bewitched by her and developed an infatuation. Martha Gellhorn was frustrated with Hemingway, since she had to travel to Europe alone cause he didn’t help her acquire a press pass to fly. When Martha got to London, Hemingway had been in a car accident. Martha was unsympathetic to the situation and didn’t want to continue their marriage. Later that year, the couple was divorced. By the third time he met with Mary Welsh, Hemingway proposed to her. After Mary divorced her husband, they went to Cuba and got married in 1946.
Over the years, Ernest Hemingway was weighed down with depression. His friends started dying in the early 1940s, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and his editor, Max Perkins. However, it didn’t totally hinder Hemingway from producing another great novel. In 1952 he published The Old Man and the Sea. After he received negative reviews from his previous novel, Across the River and into the Trees, he hastily wrote The Old Man and the Sea and regarded the book as “the best I can write ever for all of my life.” Much like his second novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, it received excellent reviews and was selected for Book of the Month Club. He was also nominated again for the Pulitzer Prize and won. Two years later in 1954, Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Afterwards, Hemingway’s estate in Cuba became too much for him to handle—filled with tourists and simply too crowded. Resorting to his love of seclusion, he decided to make his home permanent in Ketchum, Idaho. In 1959, he purchased a house with a view of the Big Wood River on the outskirts of Ketchum. After leaving Cuba, he was invariably concerned with his finances and security. His concerns circled around his taxes and manuscripts he left in a deposit box in Cuba. Hemingway became increasingly paranoid that he was being watched by the FBI, and he was right, as the FBI was in fact monitoring him. The FBI started surveillance of Hemingway during WWII, because while he was in Cuba, he would take his boat, the Pilar, to sail around the Caribbean, and there was suspicious of him working for Soviet Intelligence Agents under the name of “Agent Argo.” The monitoring continued well in to the 1950s when president J. Edgar Hoover had an agent actively observe him.
After dealing with health issues—such as diabetes and high blood pressure—and being reluctant to stop drinking, Hemingway was taken to the Mayo Clinic. In the latter years of his life he was treated for liver disease and arteriosclerosis—the thickening and hardening of the walls in arteries. At the Mayo Clinic, Hemingway went under electroconvulsive therapy and was discharged in December of 1960. He was back home in Ketchum, and three months later his wife, Mary, saw him in the kitchen with a shotgun. Hemingway was hospitalized again in the Sun Valley Hospital. He was later transferred back to the Mayo Clinic where he received more shock therapy. In late June of 1961, Hemingway was released.
On July 2, 1961 Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the head with a shotgun. During his funeral mass, an altar boy passed out at the head of his coffin. Hemingway’s brother, Leicester, commented, “It seemed to me Ernest would have approved of it all.” Ernest Hemingway was buried in Ketcham Cemetery between two trees. There’s a memorial for him in Sun Valley, Idaho. On the memorial is an inscription of a eulogy he wrote for a friends years before:“Best of all he loved the fall the leaves yellow on cottonwoods leaves floating on trout streams and above the hills the high blue windless skies ...Now he will be a part of them forever.”
Ernest Hemingway developed a love for animals. In Cuba, he had cats that wandered all over his property. A former residence of his in Key West, Florida is now a museum and is dominated by cats which are direct descendants of his original pets and up for adoption. In 1965, his wife, Mary, created the Hemingway Foundation. Later on, in the 1970s Mary gave all of her late husband’s writings and papers to the John F. Kennedy Library. A decade later, the Hemingway Society was formed.
Three houses that belonged to Hemingway are now considered national historic landmarks—his childhood lake house in Walloon Lake, Michigan, residence in Key West, Florida, and his final residence in Ketchum, Idaho. The house Hemingway grew up in in Oak Park, Illinois is a museum. In 2012, Hemingway was admitted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
Works by Ernest Hemingway
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External Links for Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway on Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway on Wikisourcehttps://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Ernest_Miller_Hemingway
See other authors of the Modern period