Ernest Hemingway: Biography & Memorable Facts


Ernest Hemingway Photo: Lloyd Arnold, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most celebrated American writers of all time and wrote such renowned classics as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. In 1954 he won the Nobel prize for Literature.

Early years

Born on July 21, 1899, in Illinois, to Clarence and Grace Hemingway, Ernest Miller Hemingway was brought up in the conservative Chicago suburb of Cicero but each summer the family would travel to a cabin on Walloon Lake in Northern Michigan, where the young Hemingway joined his father to learn how to hunt, fish, and camp - early pursuits that would give him a life-long passion for adventuring in the outdoors and living in remote places. 

In his last two years of High School, Hemingway wrote for the school newspaper, Trapeze and Tabula, mostly about sports. Straight after graduation in 1917, he eschewed college and was instead employed as a reporter by the newspaper, the Kansas City Star, learning how to write reports concisely and efficiently in a style that later influenced his signature stripped-back prose and pared-down dialogue.

Military service

Hemingway was keen to enter military service but was rejected several times due to a defective eye; however, he was determined to become involved in World War 1, taking on duties as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in 1918. 

In this role, Hemingway travelled overseas to Italy, to aid the Italian Army, and was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for his service, but not long after, he was injured in mortar fire whilst bringing chocolate and cigarettes from the canteen to men on the front line. His injuries landed him in a Milan hospital where he fell in love with a nurse called Agnes von Kurowsky, who he believed would join him when he returned to the United States a few months later. This was not to be, as she told him by letter she was engaged to another man, an Italian officer. The young Hemingway was devastated, but the experience provided him with plenty of material for his work, "A Very Short Story" and, more notably, A Farewell to Arms. It has also been said his encounter with Agnes was formative in how he approached relationships, resulting in Hemingway’s habit of leaving a wife before she could leave him. 


Back in Chicago and still recuperating, the 20-year-old Hemingway took a job at the Toronto Star as a freelancer and staff writer. During this period, he met Hadley Richardson from St Louis, a woman who was visiting his roommate’s sister, who he became infatuated with. Eight years older than him, she became his first wife, and they moved to Paris, where Hemingway was to be a foreign correspondent for the Star.

In Paris, Hemingway soon became a mentee of American art collector and writer, Gertrude Stein, and became an instrumental member of what Stein famously called "The Lost Generation." This was a lofty band of many of the great writers and artists of Hemingway’s generation, all living in Paris, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, plus the artist, Pablo Picasso, Ezra Pound, and the writer, James Joyce. In 1923, Hadley gave birth to a son, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway, and around this time, Hemingway started going to the famous Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, where he got his love of bullfighting and inspiration for his novels The Sun Also Rises, 1926, and Death in the Afternoon, published in 1932. The Sun Also Rises is widely considered Hemingway's greatest ever work, and one which artfully examines his generation’s post-war cynicism and disillusionment.

The 30s in Florida

Not long after The Sun Also Rises was published, Hemingway and Hadley divorced, partly due to his affair with a woman called Pauline Pfeiffer, an American journalist he had met, who was set to become Hemingway's second wife not long after his divorce from Hadley came through. She soon fell pregnant, and the new Mr and Mrs Hemingway returned to America, where, after their son Patrick Hemingway was born in 1928, they settled in Key West, Florida, spending their summers in Wyoming. It was during this period that Hemingway completed his feted World War I novel, A Farewell to Arms.

Much of the 1930s were spent by Hemingway in the pursuit of writing and of adventuring. He took part in Florida deep-sea fishing (he bought his own fishing boat), bullfighting in Spain, and big game hunting in Africa. His third child, Gloria Hemingway, was born in 1931. He reported on the Spanish Civil War in 1937, where he met Martha Gelhorn, also a foreign war correspondent, who was to become his third wife. It was the Civil War which also inspired his next novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which would be nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Given the depth and breadth of Hemingway's experiences and the significance of his literary contributions, students studying his life and works may find it valuable to seek professional assistance with their assignments. They may for write my essay support to ensure a well-crafted analysis.

During this time, he also penned Green Hills of Africa (1935), about big-game hunting during a month-long safari on the continent, and To Have and Have Not, in 1937, which was later a box office smash starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  

Cuba and World War II

When his marriage to Pfeiffer failed and the couple inevitably divorced, Hemingway married Gellhorn and they bought a farm near Havana, Cuba, which they lived in during the winter.

The United States entered World War II in 1941 and Hemingway acted as a correspondent, making his way to London where he ended up attending several of the war's key points, including the D-Day landing where he accompanied Royal Air Force troops to the landings in Normandy, but was not allowed ashore. He attached himself to the 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, also seeing action at the Battle of the Bulge, and he was involved in the liberation of Paris. Ostensibly present as a journalist, Hemingway’s courage and daring impressed servicemen, as did his knowledge of all things military, underground guerrilla activity, and the collection of intelligence. 

Towards the end of World War II, Hemingway met another war correspondent, Mary Welsh, who worked for Time magazine. Immediately infatuated with her, he would go onto marry her after divorcing Martha Gellhorn.

Ernest Hemingway off the coast of CubaPhoto: Not specified, owned by John F. Kennedy library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1951, Hemingway wrote his most famous novel, The Old Man and the Sea, about Santiago, an ageing fisherman who wrestles with catching a giant marlin off the coast of Cuba, which finally won him the Pulitzer Prize. He continued going on adventurous trips to Africa and survived several plane crashes. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but Hemingway was increasingly beleaguered by old injuries, began to suffer from depression, and was on medical treatment for both liver disease and high blood pressure. 

Decline and suicide

He wrote a memoir of his years in Paris, A Moveable Feast, and retired permanently with Mary Welsh to Ketchum, Idaho where he continued to suffer a deterioration in physical and mental health. Mary grew increasingly concerned about his wellbeing and Hemingway went for several electroshock treatments in an attempt to erase his depressive state, but clearly it was to no avail.

Early on the morning of July 2, 1961, Hemingway took one of the shotguns he kept on the property, in the basement storeroom, and committed suicide in his Ketchum home. At first, Mary told the press it was accidental, but five years’ later she confirmed that he had killed himself. 


Hemingway left a great legacy of the some of the most seminal novels of the 20th century and his iconic style still has a huge influence on today’s writers. He is revered as a fascinating personality whose spirited and adventures and numerous marriages made him a larger-than-life character of great creative talent. 

He once described the process of his art as, “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality."

Hemingway is remembered for the delights of his spare prose, his straightforward dialogue, and his penchant for understatement, as is his preoccupation with characters that embodied the characteristics he hoped to emulate - soldiers, hunters, bullfighters, who, although tough when they needed to be, had both courage and honesty in the face of modern society, but who often lost face and hope in their battles with the modern age and the perils of their generation. Hemingway's literary contributions and his exploration of these themes continue to captivate readers and students alike. In fact, when faced with the task of delving into Hemingway's works and analyzing his portrayal of these complex characters, some may turn to professional writing services and request assistance, saying, "I need someone to write an essay for me," to ensure a thorough exploration and understanding of Hemingway's enduring literary legacy.

His works have also been published posthumously. In August 2018, a 62-year-old short story by Hemingway titled "A Room on the Garden Side," was published in The Strand Magazine for the very first time. The story is set in Paris, not long after it was liberated from the clutches of the Nazis in 1944, and one of five short stories Hemingway wrote in 1956 based on his experiences in World War II. “A Room on the Garden Side” was the second story in this series to find posthumous publication, the first being "Black Ass at the Crossroads."

Hemingway’s legacy lives on, with new readers and writers continuing to discover and enjoy his influential works and his writing style, revering his oeuvre of short stories and the classic American novel, of which he was a master.