Ernest Hemingway

Facts about Ernest Hemingway

We found 49 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.

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest 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.
He 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.
Grace 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.
His 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.
Ernest 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.
Throughout 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.
Although 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.”
Every 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.
Hemingway 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.
After 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.
During World War I, Hemingway sought to be sent to the Italian front.
In December 1917, after being rejected by the U.S. Army due to poor eyesight, he was sent to the Italian front as a member of the Red Cross and was an ambulance driver. In July 1918, he was wounded and underwent 12 operations, during which several hundred pieces of shrapnel were removed from his body. Recuperation took several months. He was decorated with orders for his heroism on the battlefield twice. His war experiences formed the basis of his novel “A Farewell to Arms,” which he wrote in 1929.
While in the hospital, he shared his room with Henry Serrano Villard, a writer who later became an ambassador.
Also, while in the hospital, he fell in love with a nurse seven years older than him, Agnes von Kurowsky. When he returned to the United States in January 1919, after completing his treatment, Ernest decided to marry Agnes. However, a few months later, she informed him by letter that she was engaged to an Italian officer. Ernest was deeply affected by the loss and was distraught. Being abandoned by a woman was so humiliating to him that since then, he was the first to end a relationship to avoid experiencing another abandonment.
After all these adventures, in September 1919, he went on a camping trip with his high school classmates to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.
This trip inspired him to write the short story “Big Two-Hearted River,” in which the protagonist escapes the horrors of the war he participates in by traveling to the province. It was then that a family friend offered him a job in Toronto, so he started as a freelance editor and foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star Weekly. After a few months, he returned to Michigan and later moved to Chicago, Illinois. He settled with friends and, at the same time, wrote articles for the Toronto Star. He also worked as editor of the monthly “Co-operative Commonwealth” magazine, where he met novelist Sherwood Anderson (“Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life”).
During the same period, he met his first wife, Hadley Richardson.
After a few months of acquaintance, they decided to marry and went to Europe. At first, they wanted to visit Rome but eventually chose Paris, where Hemingway got a job as a reporter for the Toronto Star.
In Paris, Hemingway met Gertrude Stein, James Joys and Ezra Pound, who helped young artists develop their careers.
Gertrude Stein, one of the most influential authors of modernism, became Hemingway’s mentor. She introduced him to the émigré artists and writers of the Montparnasse district, whom she called the Lost Generation. She used this name to describe the generation of American writers who grew up during World War I. Hemingway popularized the term in one of two contrasting epigraphs of his debut novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” published in 1926. Gertrude Stein counted among the Lost Generation such artists as Francis Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Isadora Duncan, Abraham Walkowitz, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Erich Maria Remarque, and composers: Prokofiev, Gershwin, Copland and others.
Thanks to Gertrude Stein, he also met the influential painters Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris.
After some time, a literary dispute arose in Hemingway’s relationship with Stein (which lasted for decades), and Ernest decided to free himself from her influence. Instead, he formed a close bond with the American poet Ezra Pound, which became a friendship as time passed. They met at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in 1922, moved to Italy in 1923, and lived on the same street in later years.
During his first ten months living in Paris, Hemingway wrote 88 articles for the Toronto Star.
These were reports describing the Greco-Turkish War and the great fire of Smyrna, which Hemingway witnessed.
In 1923 Hemingway and his wife returned to Toronto, where their son Jack Hemingway (John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway) was born.
His parents called him Bumby. At the same time, Hemingway’s first collection of short stories, “Three Stories and Ten Poems,” was published, followed by a second collection, “in our time” (written in small letters). In 1925, a collection of short stories, “In Our Time” (written in capital letters), was published in the U.S., with critics praising his fresh style.
Hemingway missed Paris very much, found Toronto boring and wanted to return to a writer’s life instead of living the life of a journalist.
He returned to Paris in 1924 and edited the monthly literary magazine The Transatlantic Review.
When Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” was published, Hemingway read it, became enthralled and decided that his subsequent work would be a novel.
He took his wife to the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, and became fascinated by bullfighting. He returned to Pamplona many more times. Influenced by his trip to Spain, his first novel - “The Sun Also Rises” - was born.
Hemingway’s marital relations began to deteriorate when he met Pauline Pfeiffer and got into an affair with her, and his wife found out.
Hadley asked for a separation and later filed for divorce. The couple divorced in January 1927, and Hemingway married Paulina in May later that year. Pauline came from a wealthy Catholic family, so before the marriage, Hemingway converted to Catholicism. Together, they moved to Paris, where Paulina worked for Vogue. Hemingway was working on another collection of short stories, published in 1927 under the title “Men Without Women.”
Pauline was expecting a child and insisted on returning to the United States.
Before leaving Paris, while in the bathroom, Hemingway had an accident that left a scar on his forehead. Whenever he was being asked about it, he avoided answering. After leaving Paris, he never lived in the big city again.
Hemingway’s second son Patrick was born in 1928 in Kansas City.
While staying with his first son in New York, he received a telegram about his father’s suicide. Moments after the telegram, he received a letter his father had written to him before his death. The news of his father’s death broke Hemingway’s heart. He blamed it on his mother.
In 1931, the family settled in Key West, Florida, in a house on Whitehead Street, which the couple received from Pauline’s uncle as a belated wedding gift.
They had previously lived on Simonton Street, where Hemingway wrote “A Farewell to Arms” in 1929. While living in Key West, thanks to a nearby hardware store owner, Ernest became interested in deep-sea fishing. While sea fishing, he met Joe Russell, who became the prototype of Freddie from the novel “To Have and Have Not.” After Hemingway’s death, the manuscript of this novel was found in the well-known Sloppy Joe’s in Key West.
Hemingway’s home in Key West still serves as a museum dedicated to the writer.
Legend has it that the Hemingway family purchased the pool worth $20,000 in the 1930s (the equivalent of $330,000 in 2013). The price of the pool was so high that Hemingway had to spend all his money. He wrote “Death in the Afternoon,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” while in Key West.
Ernest Hemingway was a great cat lover.
His home in Key West currently houses about 50 cats, most of which are descendants of Hemingway’s pets. The first, named Snow White (some argue that Snowball), was given to him by Captain Harold Stanley Dexter after a drinking night at Sloppy Joe’s. Like most cats living in Hemingway’s home at the present, this cat suffered from polydactyly. Polydactyly or hyperdactyly is a rare genetic condition that manifests with extra fingers or toes. A cat that Captain Dexter gave Hemingway served on the ship as a buzzard and good luck talisman.
Six-fingered cats - Hemingway cats - were named in honor of Ernest Hemingway.
Hemingway museum staff cares for the cats currently living in Key West. Despite complaints from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these cats have free contact with tourists visiting the museum; the national law allowing a maximum of four pets per household does not apply to Key West.
Neither Snowball (Snow White) nor the other cats living with Hemingway were the only cats in his life.
Since childhood, wherever he lived and worked, he was accompanied by cats, with whom he shared a particularly intimate bond. Hemingway was convinced that cats actively supported him in his work. The writer claimed, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” In Paris, where he lived with Hadley Richardson, he was accompanied by a Persian cat named Feather Puss, later described in the book “A Moveable Feast,” published in 1964, as a caring guardian of their little son John “Bumby.”
Since moving to Finca Vigia near Havana, Hemingway’s affection for cats has developed uniquely and notably.
There, a Persian cat named Princessa and a former vagabond named Boise from Cojimar has started an ever-expanding cat population. Hemingway even thought of breeding an entirely new variety. Unfortunately, the plan has failed due to diseases and deformities caused by inbreeding. The writer’s (fourth at the time) wife had all the adult cats neutered, which Hemingway never forgave her for. Since the cats filled the entire house, the Hemingway’s built next to Finca Vigia a separate facility dedicated to their felines. A tower with an entire floor for the cats was built and adapted so that Hemingway could look in on them directly from his bedroom, bathroom, terrace, kitchen, and dining room.
Hemingway had a special bond with his black and white male cat, Boise.
It grew closer to Hemingway than any other human or animal. Boise walked with him step by step, accompanied him during his writing work, sat on his lap while reading, slept with him, and shared every meal. Once, during the writer’s absence from Finca, the cat had a heart attack and passed away - it experienced Hemingway deeply. He immortalized his relationship with Boise in his book “Islands in the Stream,” published posthumously. For Hemingway, cats were “murmur factories” and “sponges of love.”
A cat named Big Boy Peterson accompanied Hemingway in his last moments at the Idaho estate.
Hemingway’s Cuban residence, the Finca, was home to sixty cats and many dogs, to which Hemingway could not return after the Cuban Revolution. It is said that his last words spoken to his wife Mary on the evening before his death were, “good night, my cat.”
In the 1930s, Hemingway often spent summers in Wyoming, hunting deer, elk and grizzly bears.
His friend John Dos Passos sometimes accompanied him. Driving him to the train station one day, Hemingway was in a car accident in which he suffered a transverse spiral fracture of his hand - the surgeon bound the bone with kangaroo tendon, and his hospitalization lasted seven weeks.
In 1931, Hemingway’s third son Gregory Hancock Hemingway was born.
Hemingway and Pauline attended a three-month safari in Africa.
Their guide was Philip Hope Percival, who also hunted with Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. During the safari, Hemingway became so severely ill that he had to be transported to a hospital in Nairobi by plane. He later described the event in his short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” The trip also inspired him to write the novel “Green Hills of Africa,” which received average critical acclaim, and the short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Despite the illness, Hemingway’s safari trophies included a lion.
Ernest Hemingway owned a fishing boat, “Pilar,” which he sailed around the Caribbean.
While sailing, he stayed for several months in the westernmost district of the Bahamas - Bimini - where he worked on the novel “To Have and Have Not.”
Hemingway worked as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance agency (NANA) during the Spanish Civil War.
While in Spain, he was accompanied by American journalist Martha Gellhorn, who became his third wife in 1940. Unfortunately, the marriage broke up after five years, and the reason was mainly due to disputes over Gellhorn’s role in the marriage. Hemingway wanted his wife to stay home while she was determined to pursue a career as a war reporter.
Already separated from Pauline, Hemingway moved out of Key West to a summer residence in Ketchum, Idaho.
He also sailed to Cuba, where he initially rented a room in a hotel in Havana. However, when Martha joined him, they rented the Finca Vigia estate near Havana. Hemingway used this estate during winters. While there, Gellhorn inspired Ernest to write one of his best-known novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” published in 1940. The book sold more than half a million copies within months of its release. The book was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Hemingway traveled to China with Martha, where both worked as reporters - Martha for Collier’s magazine and Ernest for the PM newspaper.
They returned to Cuba before the United States joined World War II. There are suggestions that even before his trip to China, Hemingway was recruited as a secret KGB agent under the code name “Agent Argo.”
Hemingway patrolled the waters along Cuba’s coast and the Gulf of Mexico between 1942 and 1944.
It was prompted by a statement issued by the U.S. government, calling on all ship and boat owners to volunteer to patrol North American coastal waters in search of German submarines.
During World War II, Hemingway was in Europe from May 1944 to March 1945.
In London, he met Time magazine correspondent Mary Welsh. He fell in love, and during their third meeting, asked her to marry him. While in London, he also suffered a concussion from a car accident.
Hemingway was present during the Normandy landing on June 6th, 1944, but as a war correspondent, he was not permitted to leave the ship and had to conduct his correspondence from its deck.
He was also assigned to the 22nd Infantry Regiment and became commander of a small group of rural militia from Rambouillet near Paris. It is against the Geneva Conventions to lead a detachment and be a war correspondent simultaneously, but after interrogation by Inspector General, Hemingway was cleared of all charges. While in France, he managed to capture several Germans.
Contrary to prevailing legend, Hemingway was not the first person in liberated Paris, nor did he liberate the Ritz Hotel.
While there, he reconciled with Gertrude Stein and visited Pablo Picasso and Sylvia Beach.
He witnessed a series of battles fought between American and German troops in the Hürtgen Forest (Battle of Hürtgen Forest, September 16th - December 19th, 1944) on the German-Belgian border - the longest single battle of the U.S. Army in its history.
Hemingway was judged badly by soldiers, who accused him of posturing. He also went to Luxembourg to report on the Ardennes offensive, the last major offensive operation of the German troops during World War II. However, he arrived there suffering from pneumonia and thus did not witness the battle. However, in 1947, he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor during World War II.
In the post-war period, Hemingway suffered from many illnesses: diabetes, severe headaches, high blood pressure and overweight problems. He also abused alcohol.
The deaths of several of his friends, including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald, led to depression. He also suffered from other ailments due to several car accidents in which he was involved. His mental state eventually manifested as bipolar disorder. As a result, he was inactive for three years, returning to writing only in 1946. He wrote a novel, “The Garden of Eden,” and began work on a three-part novel describing the fate of various people from three perspectives during World War II (on land, at sea and in the air), but abandoned the project. Eventually, the “sea part” turned into the novel “Islands in the Stream” and the short story “The Old Man and the Sea.”
In 1948, he traveled to Europe with his wife, stopping in Venice for several months.
He traveled across the Atlantic on the Polish passenger ship “Jagiello.” During this trip, the writer fell in love once again, this time with 19-year-old Adriana Ivancich. This platonic love inspired him to write a novel, “Across the River and into the Trees,” which was not well received. The unfavorable reviews prompted him to write the short story “The Old Man and the Sea,” which he considered the best thing he could create in his life. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the short story in 1953.
In 1954, Hemingway and his wife traveled to Africa, where they were twice involved in plane crashes.
Both he and his wife were injured in these crashes. The same year, during a bushfire, the writer suffered second-degree burns on his legs, torso and left hand. Because of his injuries, he gave up a trip to Stockholm, where he was to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to him in 1954 - he only sent a speech describing his life as a writer.
By the end of the 1950s, Hemingway worked on material that was published after his death as “A Moveable Feast.”
Ernest and Mary left Cuba for good on July 25th, 1960. Hemingway still took trips to Spain for Life magazine sessions. He then went to New York, where he holed up in Mary’s apartment and refused to leave, claiming he was being watched. His mental health was deteriorating quickly.
Hemingway was mentally in terrible shape, worrying about money and his safety.
He feared he would never return to Cuba, where he had stored his manuscripts in a safe. He was convinced the FBI was following him, and one night, Mary found him with a shotgun in his hand. The writer was admitted to the hospital, where he underwent electroshock therapy, presumably at least 15 times. He left the clinic on June 30th, 1961, returning home to Ketchum, Idaho. On July 2nd, 19 days before his 62nd birthday, Hemingway shot himself with his favorite shotgun.
For several years, it was believed his death was an accident.
Mary claimed his shotgun had fired while her husband was cleaning it. Considering Hemingway’s life - war, safaris, hunting in Wyoming - this claim was dismissed decades later. He is buried in the Ketchum cemetery.
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