July Author Spotlight: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21st, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, to Clarence Edmund, a physician and Grace Hall, a musician. He was the second child. Their family was well respected in their town. He was close to both his parents.
His childhood:

  • His mother taught him to play cello and his father taught him to hunt, fish and camp. This made him an ardent nature lover. In high school, he excelled in English while still taking part in sports like football, polo, and boxing.


  • While still in school he joined a journalism class. This enabled him to become a journalist for the school newspaper and yearbook.

His former works:

  • At age of 18, he joined the first world war as an ambulance driver in Italy. For his service, he was awarded the ‘Italian Silver Medal of Bravery’. During the war, he was severely injured and his legs required surgery to remove the shrapnel. He described his experiences of the war in his nonfiction book, ‘Death in the Afternoon’.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway as an ambulance driver in Italy

  • He returned from the war wounded and alone and on one camping trip with his high school friends he was inspired to write his book ‘Big Two-Hearted River’.


  • After a while, a family friend from Toronto offered him a job which he accepted. Here he started working as a freelance journalist and correspondent for Toronto Star Weekly.


  • He then moved to Chicago where he met his wife, Hadley Richardson, who was his roommate’s sister. A few months after their wedding the couple moved to Paris as he was hired to be Toronto Weekly’s foreign correspondent for Paris.


  • In the city of Paris, he met various other authors and novelists, who helped him in his early career as a writer. A few of them were Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.


  • During his stay in Paris, he wrote pieces for Toronto Weekly while still writing for himself. The next year he moved back to Toronto where his first book ‘Three Stories and Ten Poems’ was published.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway typing away on his typewriter

  • The couple with their son moved back to Paris in 1924 as Ernest found life to be quite dull in Toronto. Here he helped edit, ‘Transatlantic Review’ which featured a few of his friends’ works. Along with this, he published a few of his earlier works like ‘The Indian Camp’ which was greatly admired by the American critics for its style.


  • In 1925, during his third visit to Pamplona, he started writing ‘The Sun Also Rises’ which he finished eight weeks later. This novel underwent a lot of editing for the rest of the year and was published 1926.


  • It was during the course of this book that his relationship with his wife deteriorated and after the final publication of the book, he married a fellow journalist Pauline Pfeiffer.


  • During the early days of his second marriage, he wrote ‘Men without Women’ which was published in 1926. The difficult birth of his second son, made him write ‘A Farewell to Arms’. It is said that Ernest wrote the end to this book seventeen times which was the reason for its delay in publication.


  • After the birth of his third son, the couple went to Africa for a ten-week long safari which inspired his book ‘Green Hills of Africa’ and various other short stories like ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’.

His latter works:

  • In the 1930s, he bought a boat and sailed in the Caribbean, the exploits of which inspired his book ‘To Have and Have Not’ which was published in 1935.


  • During this period, he met his future third wife Martha Gellhorn who was a journalist for ‘Vogue’ in Paris. She is said to have inspired one of his most famous works ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ which he began writing in 1939 and published in 1940. This book became famous worldwide and re-established him as a writer. This book was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.


  • During the second world war, his contribution to the Allies was notable and he was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery. When fighting in Cuba he met his future fourth wife, Mary Welsh, who was a correspondent for ‘TIME’ magazine London. He divorced Martha soon and married Mary in 1946.


  • Post the second world war alongside his affair with Mary, his health saw a steady decline either due to medical problems or due to several accidents. He also succumbed to depression but nonetheless began working on ‘The Garden of Eden’ which was stalled with another of his works.


  • While traveling in Venice, he fell in love with a young nineteen year old, inspiring him to write ‘Across the Rivers and Into the Trees’ which gained negative reviews. In anger and despite the strife with his current wife, he went on to write ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ which won the Pulitzer in 1952.


  • During his second visit to Africa, he sustained life-threatening injuries due to to a series of near fatal accidents. These accidents deteriorated his physical condition to an extent that he became addicted to alcohol in order to overcome the pain.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway with Lauren Bacall in Spain

The Nobel Prize winner:

  • It was in the October of 1954 that Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for his great contributions in Literature.


  • After the acceptance of the Nobel Prize, he worked on ‘The Movable Feast’ and added to his prior works when he rediscovered a suitcase full of his notes from the Ritz Hotel Paris.


  • He worked to complete his other works and with the end of these works, his period of writing also came to a slow stop. ‘The Movable Feast’ took a lot of work as Ernest was now succumbing to his ill health.

His last days:

  • He committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on 2nd July 1961 after a series of increasing neuro-psychiatric symptoms reflective of hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder of iron storage in the body.


  • He is buried in the Ketchum Cemetery, Idaho, though many statues and memoirs were dedicated to him in the places he had lived in.


His works have been immortalized by his unique and pertinent style of writing which though landed right on the point, left a lot of room for emotion and imagination.