Ernest Hemingway

(1899-1961), American Novelist and Journalist

Ernest Hemingway was a journalist, short story writer, and novelist who is best known for creating the “iceberg theory” which influenced 21st-century literature. This literary theory states that a writer should say a little but imply a lot, just like how an iceberg sits under the water. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Throughout his lifetime Hemingway published seven novels and six short story collections. He also finished three nonfiction novels.


Life Facts

  • Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois in on 21 July 1899.
  • He served as an ambulance driver in Italy.
  • Before becoming a novelist, he worked as a journalist around the world.
  • Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for ‘The Old Man and the Sea‘.
  • He ended his own life with his favourite shot gun in 1961.

Interesting Facts

  • Hemingway was a notorious womanizer–marrying four times and having many affairs.
  • He met Ezra Pound and Pablo Picasso in Paris.
  • He survived two successive plane crashes.
  • Hemingway was monitored throughout his life by the FBI.
  • His last wife initially reported that his death was accidental.

Read more Ernest Hemingway facts here.


Famous Books by  Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea was the novel that finally won Hemingway the Pulitzer. It is quite short and was written in Cuba over a brief period in 1951. The story follows the life and struggles of Santiago, a poor and likeable fisherman who is in the middle of a terrible dry spell. It was the last major fiction writing that Hemingway published during his life.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is considered by some to be Hemingway’s best novel. The novel tells the story of an American who gets involved in the Spanish Civil War, as Hemingway did. He’s assigned to blow up a bridge He wrote the novel in Havana, Cuba as well as in Key West, Florida, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

The Sun Also Rises was spruced by a trip Hemingway took to Spain in 1925. There, he observed the running of the bulls. The reviews of the novel were mixed when it first came out but it is now considered to be an American classic.

A Farewell to Arms is set in WWI and is a first-person story that’s told from the perspective of Frederic Henry. The novel describes the one affair he experienced with an English nurse, something that Hemingway lived through himself.

Complete Short Stores is not a novel, but it does contain some of Hemingway’s best-known stories. One of these, which is studied around the world as an example of the iceberg theory, is “Hills Like White Elephants”.


Early Life

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois in on 21 July 1899. His father was a doctor and his other was a musician. The couple was well respected and raised Hemingway in a good neighbourhood. Later in life, Hemingway stated that he hated his mother and had fonder memories of his father who took him camping, fishing, and hunting in Northern Michigan. While in high school he eddied the school’s newspaper and yearbook.

After school he went to work for The Kansas City Star as a reporter. He was only there for six months, but some scholars believe the newspaper’s style influenced Hemingway’s own.

In 1917 he signed up to be an ambulance driver in Italy and spent time at the Italian front. Many of his experiences during the way can be found in his novel Death in the Afternoon which is non-fiction. He was injured in July (when he was only eighteen years old) of that year after driving an ambulance for two months. He received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for helping to get Italian soldiers to safety. While recovering in the hospital he met and fell in love with a Red Cross nurse who eventually married someone else, breaking Hemingway’s heart.


Career

Over the following years Hemingway spent time in Toronto, Chicago, and Paris. He wrote for the Toronto Star. He also met and fell in love with Haley Richardson. The two lived in Paris in a small apartment while Hemingway continued to work. He met several famous writers and artists during this period. The couple had a son in 1923 and three years later he published The Sun Also Rises, the novel that is often considered to be his best.

Hadley and Hemingway divorced the next year and he married Pauline Pfeiffer. During this period he also spent time in Spain covering the Spanish Civil War. The events that he observed would inspire him to write For Whom the Bell Tolls. He married again in 1940, to Martha Gellhorn, whom he left after meeting another woman named Mary Welsh. The two met while Hemingway was traveling to London. She was a Time correspondent.  His divorce from Martha Gellhorn was finalized in 1945 and he was already planning to marry Mary Welsh.

In 1947 he was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery during WWII. He had traveled as a journalist while under fire throughout combat areas in order to get photographs.


Later Writing Career

From 1942 to 1945 Hemingway chose not to write. His reputation suffered because of it, as did his outlook on life. His friends, including WB Yeats and Ford Madox Ford died and Mary Welsh had an ectopic pregnancy. He published Across the River and into the Trees to negative reviews in 1950. It was inspired by a supposedly platonic relationship he had with a nineteen year old in Venice. Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba, as well as the United States. After its publication it became a best-seller. It was nominated, but did not receive, the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1952, The Old Man and the Sea was chosen as a book-of-the-month selection and won Hemingway the Pulitzer. It was followed in 1954 with the Novel Prize in Literature.


Death

Hemingway was involved in a plane crash in 1954 which almost cost him his life. He was bedridden for several months. He continued to fall ill over the next years, still suffering from the plane crash injuries. He mostly finished his memoir A Moveable Feast in 1959. Hemingway’s mental state was deteriorating towards the end of the 1950s. He was treated at the Mayo Clinic, with electroconvulsive therapy.  He ended his own life in July of 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho.


Influence from other Writers

Ernest Hemingway was notably influenced by writers such as William Faulkner, W.B. Yeats, and Mark Twain.


Literature by Ernest Hemingway

Explore literature by Ernest Hemingway below, created by the team at Book Analysis.