Ernest Hemingway - Biography
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was one of the most significant American authors of the Twentieth century . His novels and short fictions have left an indelible mark on the literary production of the United States and the world. Although most often remembered for his economical and understated fiction, he was also a noted journalist. In 1954, Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Novel Prize in Literature. Hemingway is also known for his heroic, adventurous and often stereotypically “manly” public persona. The myth he cultivated of himself as a man of action aided the important Modernist reading of many of his works.
Throughout the twenties lasting until the fifties, Hemingway produced a plethora of writing. Most of this writing was in his familiar stringent style. The economical use of words coupled with his “believable” characterizations of the modern condition were hallmarks of his style.
On July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park, just south of Chicago, was the city in which Hemingway grew up. After graduating high school, he began writing for
Ernest Hemingway married Hadley Richardson in 1922. The young coupled relocated to Paris where Hemingway had found work as a foreign correspondent. Before two years of living in Paris, Hemingway wrote over eighty articles for the Toronto Star. Hemingway wrote about the Greco-Turkish War and travel pieces (covering subjects including fishing and bull fighting.) In 1922, Hadley lost a piece of luggage containing Hemingway’s manuscripts. The author was distraught over this event. The couple crossed the Atlantic to move to Toronto. In 1923, Hemingway’s first child, John Hadley Nicanor, was born. Three Stories and Ten Poems was published. Hemingway tired of Toronto and returned his family to Paris. He became an active member of the so-called Lost Generation, a community of expatriates. This community included many writers who were beginning to explore the possibility of Modernist writing. Hemingway and Ford Madox Ford edited a review which published the work of writers like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and John Dos Passos. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald formed a close friendship. Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby inspired Hemingway to write larger texts. Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises was published four years after his first arrival in Paris.
Hemingway spent much time at Gertrude Stein's salon. In this social context, Hemingway met influential painters including Juan Gris, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso. Hemingway and Stein were cordial. Eventually their strong personalities would clash and a decades-long rift would form between them. Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound met in 1922. The two men toured Italy throughout 1923. In 1924, the writers moved on to the same street. Pound nurtured the Hemingway. Pound also introduced the younger writer to James Joyce. Joyce and Hemingway would go on bouts of drinking. In 1927, Hemingway sought a divorce from Richardson.
The relationship between Hemingway and Hadley began to break down as Hemingway wrote his first novel. Hadley also discovered that Hemingway was having an affair with the American Pauline Pfeiffer.. As Part of the divorce settlement, Hadley was to receive the revenue from The Sun Also Rises.. After the first divorce, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. Hemingway would end their marriage on returning from the Spanish Civil War.
In June 1928, Hemingway and his second wife had a son in Kansas City. After Pauline gave birth, Hemingway and his family traveled to Wyoming, Massachusetts and New York. In the fall, Hemingway discovered that his father had committed suicide. He began to have premonitions that he would end his life by his own hand. Throughout the 1930s, Hemingway would spend his winters in Key West, Florida. This region would become associated with Hemingway. In the summer, Hemingway would return to Wyoming. Hemingway took advantage of the hunting and fishing in these areas.
This love would encourage Hemingway’s sense of adventure. In 1933, Hemingway traveled to East Africa for a safari. This trip inspired much of Hemingway’s work including Green Hills of Africa, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". Hemingway was infected with amoebic dysentery, resulting in a prolapsed intestine. He would take an emergency flight to Nairobi for medical treatment.
In 1936, Hemingway met a journalist in Martha Gellhorn in Key West, Florida. The following year, Hemingway traveled to Spain to work as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Hemingway was brought into a film project as The Spanish Earth when John Dos Passos. Dos Passos abandoned the film after José Robles was executed. Hemingway accused Dos Passos of being a coward; however, Dos Passos was disgusted by the brutality of the leftist republicans.
Hemingway sailed to Cuba in early 1939. While in Cuba, Hemingway lived in a hotel in Havana. This signaled the increased effort painfully separate from his second wife. Martha Gelhorn was to join Hemingway in Cuba. In 1940, Hemingway married Martha Gelhorn. This marriage ended when Hemingway met Mary Walsh in Wyoming in the fall of 1940. However, he would change his summer home to Ketchum, Idaho.
During this time, Gelhorn gave Hemingway the inspiration to pen his most celebrated novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for this work. In 1941, Martha Gellhorn accepted an assignment for Colliers magazine that required her to travel to China. Hemingway took the opportunity to travel China.
For the second half of 1944, Hemingway traveled to the European front of the Second World War. He was at the D-Day landing; however, he was protected as “precious cargo.” However, some doubt the validity of the assertions that he went ashore during the Allied invasion. During the conflict, Hemingway broke the Geneva Convention by leading an armed group of military resistors. As a journalist, he was expressly forbidden to engage in military action. However, he escaped punishment by claiming that he had only given advice. For his actions in the war, Hemingway was given a Bronze Star for bravery.
On returning to Paris, he was able to heal the rift with Gertrude Stein. In London, Hemingway met Mary Welsh, a Time magazine correspondent. On their third meeting, Hemmingway offered a marriage proposal. The wedding occurred in 1946. During a return trip to Europe, Hemingway became infatuated with the teenaged Adriana Ivancich. This romance would inspire Hemingway’s book Across the River and Into the Trees. When the book was released in 1950, it was received very poorly. However in 1952, Hemingway would win the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea. Two years later Hemingway would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
His mental and physical health worsened during this period. Things were made worse because of Hemingway’s alcoholism. From 1955 to 1956, Hemingway was confined to his bed. His doctors told him to stop drinking, but he did not comply. In 1959, Hemingway was in Cuba when the communist party decided to nationalize the property belonging to Americans. In 1960, Hemingway visited Spain before returning to Idaho. His mental health deteriorated. He attempted electoroshock therapy. His mental health was at its lowest. In 1961, Ernest Hemingway committed suicide.
Hemingway’s legacy is at times seen as being sexist and homophobic. His pursuit of a masculine ideal has been criticized for lacking the complexity of human endeavor. Yet, undoubtedly Hemingway’s writing and life have had a profound impact on literature.