Facts about Ernest Hemingway
One of the most outstanding writers of the 20th century
Ernest Hemingway, one of the most outstanding writers of the 20th century, was a “citizen of the world” who, although he spent most of his life outside the United States, always looked at the world through the eyes of an American. He belonged to the so-called Lost Generation of American writers who grew up during World War I, and his work dealt with themes typical of that generation. His prose is poor in stylistic means. It is simple, yet emphasizes the richness of his inner world based on his personal experiences, shaped by his skills as a journalist. Hemingway was a very active man, taking part in many events of the world, benefiting from extreme experiences gained in wars, on safari, at sea, and wherever something was happening. A four times husband, father of three sons, and a great lover of cats.
1Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist, short story writer, journalist, and sportsman whose many works are considered classics of American literature.
He published seven novels, six collections of short stories, and two non-fiction items. After his death, three more of his novels, four more short stories, and three non-fiction pieces were published.
2He lived from 1899 to 1961.
He was born on July 21st, 1899, in Oak Park, an affluent neighborhood west of Chicago. His father, Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, was a doctor, and his mother, Grace Hall-Hemingway, was an opera singer, music teacher, and painter. Ernest’s parents were respected citizens of the conservative Oak Park community. Their two-story house with six bedrooms and a bathroom had running water and was the first house in Oak Park to have electricity. Ernest was the second of six siblings and the first son in the family.
3Grace Hall-Hemingway followed the Victorian convention of not differentiating children’s clothing by gender.
She wanted the eldest daughter Marcelline and the year younger Ernest to look like twins. So the children wore similar girlish pleated outfits, and Ernest wore his hair long for the first three years of his life.
4His mother worked a lot, giving music and singing lessons, composing, and directing the children’s church choir and the orchestra at the Congregational Church. She also sang at concerts and was a soloist in the church choir.
Because of her tight schedule, Grace’s father and housemaids handled raising the children and all the housework. On the other hand, Grace introduced her children to the cultural world of literature, art, poetry and music. She read them many books and organized visits to Chicago’s opera, theater, and museums. In addition, she insisted that all her children learn to play a musical instrument. The girls were encouraged to play the violin and piano, and Ernest was assigned the cello.
5Ernest had a problematic relationship with his domineering mother, who overshadowed even her husband.
She demanded a great deal from her children, insisting they participate in activities she considered necessary. These rules irritated Ernest; as a young boy, he wanted to be involved in sports, pursue his hobbies and devote his time to things that interested him. It caused growing animosities with his mother, resulting in him withdrawing from the family. In later years, Ernest’s friend Major General Charles T. Lanham said that Ernest was the only man he knew who really hated his mother.
6Throughout his life, including in his prose, Ernest Hemingway emphasized the importance of male strength.
His biographers tried to explain this fact with an emotional need to exorcise the painful memory of his mother, who emphasized her superiority over Ernest’s father.
7Although he refused to learn to play the cello, years later, he admitted that music lessons contributed to his writing style, as evidenced by the contrapuntal structure of the novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
8Every summer, the family traveled to Windemere on Walloon Lake, where Clarence taught his son about hunting, fishing and camping in the forests of Northern Michigan. These experiences instilled in him a lifelong passion for spending time outdoors in remote areas.
9Hemingway attended school in Oak Park from 1913 to 1917.
He was very fond of sports and eagerly engaged in boxing, athletics, soccer and water polo. Hemingway also performed with his sister Marcelline in the school orchestra for two years. He received good grades in English. He attended journalism classes organized as if the classroom was a newspaper editorial board. The best articles were posted in the school newspaper, and Ernest and Marcelline’s articles appeared several times. Hemingway became involved in editing two school newspapers, where he imitated the writing style of sports reporters and used the pseudonym “Ring Lardner Jr.” in honor of editor Ring Lardner of the Chicago Tribune.
10After graduation, he began working at The Kansas City Star newspaper, where he spent six months.
During those six months on the job, he picked up some editorial advice (use short sentences, use short first paragraphs, use energetic words, be positive) that became the basis of his writing style.