Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois to Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and Grace Hall Hemingway. The second of six children, Ernest enjoyed an adventurous boyhood, fishing and hunting with his father in the northern woods of Michigan. He attended Oak Park High School where he excelled in his classes, particularly English. He tried his hand at football and swimming, edited the school paper (the Trapeze), and contributed pieces to the school’s literary magazine (the Tabula). After graduating high school, Ernest travelled to Kansas City and worked as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star. In 1918, he began service as an ambulance driver for the Italian army. On July 8, he was wounded at Fossalta on the Italian Piave while delivering chocolates, cigarettes, and postcards to soldiers.
He married Elizabeth Hadley Richardson on September 3, 1921. The newlyweds soon entered the literary community of Paris, living off of Hadley’s trust fund and Ernest’s pay as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. The 1920’s were extremely productive writing years for Hemingway. Three Stories and Ten Poems was published in 1923, In Our Time in 1925. 1926 saw the publication of The Torrents of Spring and the widely successful novel, The Sun Also Rises. A collection of short stories titled Men Without Women followed in 1927. This year also signified the end of Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley and his subsequent marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer on May 10, 1927. Ernest and Pauline would spend the majority of their years together at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida. On December 6, 1928, Hemingway was dealt a devastating emotional blow as his father, suffering from severe diabetes and concerned about his financial future, shot himself.
Hemingway continued to write producing what many critics still feel is the best novel ever written about World War I. A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929 and solidified Hemingway’s reputation as one the greatest writers of his generation. The 1930’s would see the publication of Hemingway’s bible on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon (1932), a recount of his African safari in Green Hills of Africa (1935) and two famous short stories, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1936) and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” (1936).
In the late 1930’s, Hemingway ventured to Spain to give his encouragement to the Loyalists fighting in the Spanish Civil War. His experiences as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance would inspire his other great war novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Exactly one month after the 1940 publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway married fellow writer and war correspondent Martha Ellis Gellhorn. It was a marriage that would last only five years. He married fourth and final wife Mary Welsh Monks on March 14, 1946. For the next fourteen years, the couple would live in Hemingway’s Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm) in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.
After a disappointing reception of his 1950 novel, Across the River and into the Trees, Hemingway rallied producing The Old Man and the Sea (1952), a short work that earned him a 1953 Pulitzer Prize and ultimately the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. Physically unnerved from two plane crashes earlier that year, Hemingway was unable to attend the prize ceremonies. He would live another seven years.
On July 2, 1961, in his home in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. His wife Mary found him and relayed word of her husband’s death to the world. Ernest Hemingway was two and a half weeks shy of his sixty-second birthday. Three sons and millions of loyal readers preserve his memory.