Biographical / Historical
Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961), was a novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the second child of Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall Hemingway. He attended the local public school and began to write in high school, submitting stories to the school newspaper, Tabula. His summers were spent with his family hunting, fishing, and camping in the woods around Walloon Lake in northern Michigan. On graduation from high school in 1917 and impatient for more excitement, he did not enter college as reported in the school yearbook, Senior Tabula, but went to Kansas City, where he was employed as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. He was rejected for military service because of poor vision, but he still managed to enter World War I as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. On July 8, 1918, just shy of turning nineteen years old, he was injured by an explosion on the Austro-Italian front at Fossalta di Piave. While recovering at a hospital in Milan, he fell in love with a Red Cross nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, whom he asked to marry him. She declined the offer. These were experiences he was never to forget.
Hemingway returned home to recuperate and continue writing. For a while he worked at odd jobs in Chicago including as staff writer of the Toronto Star. On September 3, 1921, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson and soon afterwards they moved to France where Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. Splitting their time between Paris and Toronto, it was in the latter city that the first of his three sons, John, was born on October 10, 1923. While in Paris he met other American writers, in particular F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound, who all encouraged his writing. He began to see his non-journalistic work appear in print there, and in 1924 his first book, In Our Time, a collection of stories, was published in Paris and subsequently released in New York City in 1925. 1926 saw the publication of The Sun Also Rises, a novel about a group of expatriates in France and Spain, members of the postwar "Lost Generation." Hemingway and Hadley Richardson divorced in 1927, and he soon married Pauline Pfeiffer, a devout Roman Catholic from Piggott, Arkansas. Pfeiffer was an occasional fashion reporter, publishing in magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. It was at this time that Hemingway converted to Catholicism.
The writing of books occupied Hemingway for most of the postwar years, but he traveled widely for the skiing, bullfighting, fishing, and hunting that by then had become part of his life and formed the background for much of his writing. He demonstrated his mastery of short fiction with Men without Women, published in 1927, and further enhanced it with the stories in Winner Take Nothing in 1933. In 1928, Pauline gave birth to Hemingway's second son Patrick, and they moved to Key West, Florida, to begin their life together. However, shortly afterward, their life was disturbed by the suicide of Hemingway's father, Clarence.
The novel A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929. Recalling Hemingway's experiences as a young soldier in Italy, the novel combines a love story with a war story. Hemingway's third son Gregory was born in 1931. That same year the Hemingways purchased a home in Key West, where he wrote the majority of his later novels.
Hemingway's love of Spain and his passion for bullfighting produced Death in the Afternoon in 1932. The Green Hills of Africa, written in 1935, resulted from a safari he took in the fall of 1933 to the big-game regions of Kenya and Tanzania. In 1937, he published a minor novel, To Have and Have Not, about a Caribbean desperado, set in Key West during the Great Depression.
In 1937, Hemingway made four trips to Spain, once more as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance, to report on the civil war. He raised money for the Republicans in their struggle against the Nationalists under General Francisco Franco, and he wrote a play called The Fifth Column (1938), which is set in a besieged Madrid. Hemingway divorced Pauline in 1940. A few weeks after the divorce, he married Collier's war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. That same year he published the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, which tells the story of an American volunteer fighting for the Republicans in Spain. After the completion of the novel, he and Martha travelled to cover another war, the Japanese invasion of China.
All of his life, Hemingway was fascinated by war, and, as World War II progressed, he made his way to London as a journalist. He flew several missions with the Royal Air Force and crossed the English Channel with American troops on D-Day (June 6, 1944). Attaching himself to the 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, he saw a good deal of action in Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge. He also participated in the liberation of Paris although he was ostensibly a journalist. Following the war in Europe and newly divorced from Gellhorn, Hemingway married Mary Welsh, who had covered World War II with distinction for Time and Life. The couple settled at Finca Vigía ("Lookout Farm"), Hemingway's estate outside Havana, Cuba, and Hemingway began writing seriously again. Across the River and into the Trees, released in 1950, was not a critical success, but Hemingway was soon to receive the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, a short novel about an old Cuban fisherman, published in 1952. This book played a role in gaining Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
He continued to travel widely, and, on a trip to Africa in 1954, he was so badly injured in two successive plane crashes that some American newspapers mistakenly published his obituary, believing he had been killed. By 1960, Fidel Castro's revolution had driven most Americans from Cuba. Hemingway, who remained cordial with Castro, moved to Ketchum, Idaho, intending to return to Cuba and continue to work as before. While in Idaho he worked on both The Dangerous Summer and A Moveable Feast. Poor health and depression resulted in two hospitalizations at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he received electroshock treatments. These treatments proved ineffective, and after his return to the house in Ketchum in the summer of 1961, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Hemingway left behind a substantial number of manuscripts, many of which were retrieved by Mary Hemingway from their home in Cuba. Some of these have been published posthumously. A Moveable Feast was issued in 1964. Islands in the Stream, three closely related novellas, appeared in 1970.