Ernest Hemingway

(1899-1961), American Novelist and Journalist

Ernest Miller Hemingway was a journalist, short story writer, and novelist who is best known for creating the “iceberg theory,” which along with his prose style, 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.

Key Life Events

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

The Old Man and the Sea‘ was the novella 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 likable fisherman 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 teacher called Robert Jordan, who gets involved in the Spanish Civil War, as Hemingway did himself. He wrote the novel in Havana, Cuba, as well as in Key West, Florida, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

The Sun Also Rises’ was Hemingway’s first major novel and is recognized as one of his greatest works, inspired by a trip he took to Spain in 1925. The novel focuses on Gertrude Stein’s coined “lost generation”, who are a generation rife with disillusionment caused by the horrors of the World War, and who are ready to move on from the traditions of the older generation. The reviews of the novel were mixed when it first came out, but it is now considered to be an American classic, and some argue that it is the best Hemingway book.

A Farewell to Arms’ is set in WWI and is a first-person story told from the perspective of Frederic Henry, a lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The book is inspired by events in Hemingway’s own life.

Complete Short Stories’ 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‘.

Explore the best books by Ernest Hemingway.

Early Life

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, 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 neighborhood. 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 on the Italian front. Many of his experiences along the way, like his love for Spain and bullfighting, 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 in Milan, who eventually married someone else, breaking Hemingway’s heart.


Over the following years, Hemingway spent time in Toronto, Chicago, and Paris. He worked as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star and sailed for France, where he met and fell in love with Hadley Richardson. The two lived in Paris in a small apartment while Hemingway continued to work. He also met several famous writers and artists during this period who advised and encouraged Ernest. After an orignal release in Paris in 1924, his first important work, ‘In Our Time was published in New York in 1925.

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 1920s and 1930s, 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 courage and bravery during World War II. He had traveled  across Europe 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’ were chosen as a book-of-the-month selection and won Hemingway the Pulitzer. It was followed in 1954 by the Novel Prize in Literature.


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 plane crash injuries. While recovering, Hemingway suffered from depression and was treated for conditions such as high blood pressure and liver disease.  He mostly finished the manuscript of 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 committed suicide in July 21 of 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho.

Influence from Other Writers

Ernest Hemingway was notably influenced by writers such as William Faulkner, W.B. Yeats, Mark Twain, and his mentor Gertrude Stein, among others.

Literature by Ernest Hemingway

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