Ernest Hemingway is born

Ernest Hemingway is born

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On July 21, 1899, Ernest Miller Hemingway, author of such novels as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea,” is born in Oak Park, Illinois. The influential American literary icon became known for his straightforward prose and use of understatement. Hemingway, who tackled topics such as bullfighting and war in his work, also became famous for his own macho, hard-drinking persona.

As a boy, Hemingway, the second of six children of Clarence Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall Hemingway, a musician, learned to fish and hunt, which would remain lifelong passions. After graduating from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1917, he worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star in Missouri. The following year, as a volunteer ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy during World War I, he was wounded by mortar fire and spent months recuperating.

READ MORE: How World War I Changed Literature

During the 1920s, Hemingway lived in Paris, France, and was part of a group of expatriate writers and artists that included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. In 1925, Hemingway published his first collection of short stories in the U.S., which was followed by his well-received 1926 debut novel “The Sun Also Rises,” about a group of American and British expatriates in the 1920s who journey from Paris to Pamplona, Spain, to watch bullfighting.

In 1929, Hemingway, who by then had left Europe and moved to Key West, Florida, published “A Farewell to Arms,” about an American ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War I and his love for a beautiful English nurse. In 1932, his non-fiction book “Death in the Afternoon,” about bullfighting in Spain, was released. It was followed in 1935 by another non-fiction work, “Green Hills of Africa,” about a safari Hemingway made to East Africa in the early 1930s. During the late 1930s, Hemingway traveled to Spain to report on that country’s civil war, and also spent time living in Cuba. In 1937, he released “To Have and Have Not,” a novel about a fishing boat captain forced to run contraband between Key West and Cuba.

In 1940, the acclaimed “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” about a young American fighting with a band of guerrillas in the Spanish civil war, made its debut. Hemingway went on to work as a war correspondent in Europe during World War II, and release the 1950 novel “Across the River and into the Trees.”

Hemingway’s last significant work to be published during his lifetime was 1952’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” a novella about an aging Cuban fisherman that was an allegory referring to the writer’s own struggles to preserve his art in the face of fame and attention. Hemingway had become a cult figure whose four marriages and adventurous exploits in big-game hunting and fishing were widely covered in the press. But despite his fame, he had not produced a major literary work in the decade before “The Old Man and the Sea” debuted. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.

After surviving two plane crashes in Africa in 1953, Hemingway became increasingly anxious and depressed. On July 2, 1961, he killed himself with a shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. (His father had died by suicide in 1928.)

Three novels by Hemingway were released posthumously—“Islands in the Stream” (1970), “The Garden of Eden” (1986) and “True at First Light” (1999)—as was the memoir “A Moveable Feast” (1964), which he penned about his time in Paris in the 1920s.

READ MORE: Was Ernest Hemingway a Spy?

Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899, in a home built by Hemingway's maternal grandparents, Caroline [note 1] and Ernest Hall [note 2] . Hemingway was the second child and first son of Dr. Clarence and Grace Hemingway. He lived in the Hall house for the first six years of his life with his parents, maternal grandfather, and three sisters. [3] The house, currently numbered 339 North Oak Park Avenue, was the first home in Oak Park to have electricity. Across the street from the Hall home was the two-story, white clapboard home of Hemingway's paternal grandparents, Anson and Adelaide Hemingway. [4]

Grandfather Hall, known to the Hemingway children as Abba, was a much-loved family member. In later life, Marcelline Hemingway Sanford, Ernest's older sister, would write about Abba Hall, recalling his kindness, generosity, and entertaining stories that were a delight to young Marcelline and Ernest. Grace's maternal uncle, Tyley Hancock was a frequent visitor to the family home. He would often entertain the children with adventurous stories from his youth and from his travels as a salesman for the Hall family's wholesale cutlery business. [5]

Hemingway's mother Grace, was an operatic singer, voice teacher and composer. She earned money for the young family by teaching music and voice lessons. Hemingway's father, Clarence, a medical doctor, delivered three of the Hemingway children in an upstairs bedroom of the home. He would consult with medical patients in a small office between the first and second floor. According to Sanford, "It was to the office that Ernest and I were called for punishment when we misbehaved." [6]

Ernest's grandfather died in May, 1905, leaving the home to his daughter, Grace. By October, Grace had sold the house to Samuel Nissen, an Oak Park grocer. [7] The Nissen family lived in the North Oak Park Avenue house for fifteen years, replacing the front porch with a screened in porch in 1914 and later replacing the clapboard exterior with aluminum siding. During the 1920s through the 1940s, the house was converted into a rooming house. The larger living areas and hall were divided and a bathroom was installed on the first floor. In 1951, the house was remodeled again to create a two-family residence. [8]

The house was purchased by The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in December 1992. The foundation embarked on a major renovation, using Sanford's description of her grandfather's home. The Ernest Hemingway birthplace was restored to its original 1890s layout, with Victorian period furnishings and original Hemingway family heirlooms. In 2001, the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum was open to the public. [9] [10]

Hemingway's maternal grandparents, Caroline and Ernest Hall, built the house in 1890 on land they purchased in November 1889. The architect was Wesley Arnold. The Victorian three-story house consisted of first and second floors, a basement and an attic. The house exterior had wooden clapboard siding with a shingle roof. The house was initially painted gray with a darker gray trim. Window trim was a dark green. There was a large open wrap-around porch with open railings that covered the front of the house and the turret on the southeast corner. There was a small open porch in the back that provided access to the kitchen. [7]

On the first floor was an entrance hall with a formal stairway leading to the second floor. There was a long parlor to the left of the hall with a bay window facing the street. The parlor led into the formal dining room. Next to the dining room and parlor was a small library, where Hemingway's grandfather and great-uncle Tyley Hancock would smoke and drink wine after their evening meal. There were oak floors and yellow pine woodwork throughout most of the house, both stained a medium brown. [11] [12]

Water lines had been installed along Oak Park Avenue before the house was built, making it possible for the house to have running water. The kitchen was a small dark room behind the dining room, with a door leading to the back porch, a stairway leading down to the cellar, and back stairway to the second floor for the servants. [12] There were six bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. [13] The Hemingway babies would sleep with their mother until they were old enough for the children's nursery. Hemingway and his older sister Marcelline shared the nursery when they were toddlers, sleeping in identical, white cribs with spindles. [14]

The end of his life

Hemingway is associated as a cult figure who wasn’t afraid to go on adventures in big-game hunting, fishing, and bullfighting in Spain. He knew he was a good writer—one of the best writers of the 20 th century. But despite his fame and his 1954 Nobel Prize for literature, Hemingway became increasingly anxious and depressed towards the end of his life. He wasn’t producing major literary works anymore.

On July 2, 1961, Hemingway committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. He was 61 years old. But like many other writers and artists, his legacy has lived on, and in this case, in the form of books.

Today in Literary History – July 21, 1899 – Ernest Hemingway is born

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning American writer was born in Oak Park, Illinois, an upscale suburb of Chicago, on July 21, 1899.

Despite influencing a generation of writers with his spare, staccato literary style, Hemingway also reveled in his larger-than-life image as a boxer, big-game hunter, deep-sea fisherman, bullfighting aficionado, and womanizer.

He even became an adjective “Hemingwayesque” came to stand not only for his rat-a-tat writing style but also as a description – admiring or pejorative – of an over the top “man’s man.”

Hemingway’s father, Ed, was a doctor. His mother, Grace, was a musician and a proto-feminist who only agreed to the marriage on the condition that she would not be obligated to do any domestic work.

Unusually for the times, Ed Hemingway ran the household of six children and managed the servants, while still keeping up a demanding medical practice.

Hemingway, needless to say, did not follow his father’s example, although he was grateful to him for teaching him to hunt, fish, and box. Hemingway later said that he hated his mother.

In 1918, at the outbreak of World War I, Hemingway tried to enlist in the Army but was turned down due to his poor eyesight. Instead he joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps and was seriously wounded by a mortar shell while serving on the Italian Front.

In 1920 Hemingway got a job as a reporter with the Toronto Star newspaper. He lived in Toronto before the Star sent him to Paris as their correspondent in 1921.

In Paris, with his first wife Hadley Richardson, Hemingway led a charmed life with a steady income and friendships with other American, British and Irish ex-patriot writers, known as the “Lost Generation”: Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, and Ford Maddox Ford among many others.

In 1926 Hemingway published a novella, The Torrents of Spring, plus his first and probably best novel, The Sun Also Rises, based on a real trip to Pamplona, Spain to see the bullfights.

This was followed by a stream of iconic novels: A Farewell to Arms (1929), To Have and Have Not (1937), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) Across the River and into the Trees (1950), and The Old Man and the Sea (1952).

He also published non-fiction memoirs and volumes of short stories, many of which, particularly those featuring his alter ego Nick Adams are highly regarded. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Hemingway’s pared down style and expressive naturalistic prose along with his themes of sex, death, and the fight between good and evil have earned him many fans and imitators even up to the present time. Some modern readers, though, have a difficult time overlooking Hemingway’s pervasive racism, misogyny and homophobia.

Hemingway and his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer left Paris in 1928 and eventually settled in Key West, Florida. He later lived in Cuba with his third wife Martha Gellhorn, spending his summers on a ranch in Ketchum, Idaho. In 1946 Hemingway married Mary Walsh, his fourth and final wife.

By then Hemingway was suffering from depression and other health problems, including diabetes, brought on by his alcoholism. He briefly quit drinking in 1956, but returned to it and developed high blood pressure, liver disease, arteriosclerosis, and failing eyesight.

His mental health also deteriorated and he was given electroshock therapy.

He committed suicide at his Idaho ranch on July 2, 1961, at the age of 61.

Ernest Hemingway in Wyoming

The Wyoming story of American novelist Ernest Hemingway began when he sought solace, seclusion and beauty near Yellowstone National Park. Its chapters span the entirety of his adult life yet have been accorded only passing significance. In Ernest Hemingway’s life, scenes of hunting, a wedding, miscarriage, injuries and physical degeneration all found Wyoming settings. Friendships grew, he fished with his sons, and he wrote much of his best work here—with great energy, productivity, and vividness.

Italy, World War I and Wyoming dreams

Ernest Hemingway, barely 19, had a lot of time to think during his six months’ hospitalization in Milan. He had been hit in the legs less than three weeks after coming to Italy as a United States Red Cross ambulance driver. In the room next to his was fellow ambulance driver Henry Villard, later to become a U.S. ambassador, who was suffering from jaundice. The two swapped tales about the size of trout they had caught back home and cooked with bacon over a fire. They reminisced about being far from civilization and spending days in a tent when it rained.

Villard described a ranch on the South Fork of the Shoshone River in Wyoming where he had spent the previous summer. “I am going to live out there, Hem,” he declared. Hemingway responded, “Hell, I’m going out there myself someday.”

Hemingway would mourn the loss of his mostly fantasized relationship with his nurse Agnes von Kurowsky.

He would marry and divorce Hadley Richardson and live in France and Spain become a father have an affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, a marriage to her, and a second son before he and his friend and fellow ambulance driver Bill Horne would load into Ernest’s yellow Ford runabout and head west.

“Wine of Wyoming”

Hemingway had already published the novel The Sun Also Rises and the short-story collections In Our Time and Men Without Women when he arrived at the Folly Ranch near Sheridan in July 1928, just a month after the birth of his second son, Patrick.

Hemingway had left the sweltering Midwestern heat for the cool, clear air of the Wyoming mountains. He and Horne arrived in Sheridan and found their way to the Folly Ranch in the Bighorn Range. The ranch log includes an entry in which a Dr. Spaulding was summoned in the middle of the night to treat Hemingway’s “twitching insomnia,” likely restless legs syndrome.

That summer, at age 29, he wrote to a friend from the ranch that he was “lonely as a bastard,” was drinking and eating too much, and that his whole life seemed pointless. He hoped to finish A Farewell to Arms , set in Italy during World War I, before Pauline arrived. Pauline’s recent difficulty giving birth to their son, Patrick,was the model for Catherine’s death during childbirth in A Farewell to Arms . Bothered by the noise and the tourists at the Folly Ranch, Hemingway moved to the Sheridan Inn, built in 1893 by the Burlington Railroad, then to the Donnelly Ranch and eventually to the Spear Family Ranch, called Spear-O-Wigwam. In August, Pauline joined him, having left infant Patrick to be cared for by her parents and sister.

After Pauline arrived, the two ate and drank wine in Sheridan with the Moncini family, immigrants from France. This was during Prohibition, making the Moncinis bootleggers with an arrest record. Hemingway renamed them the Fontans in his short story “Wine of Wyoming.” Despite the idyllic setting and the narrator’s happy associations with Europe, the story reveals glimpses of trauma and the restlessness of Hemingway’s psyche. Some scholars have centered on Prohibition and the political situation to which the story alludes. But Hemingway had been greatly affected by Gertrude Stein and her coterie of artists and writers in Paris after the war.

What came of their association was a movement called Dadaism. Dada means hobby horse in French, and the expatriates in Paris were attempting to deal with their war-wracked,demoralized state by simplifying their art and writing to the point of absurdity and child’s play. “Wine of Wyoming” seems in many ways to fit this Dadaist model.

The expatriates were influenced by dreams, the unconscious, and free association. They rejected the bourgeois in society and the Victorian age and used this model to protest the insanity of war. One of the strongest influences was cartoonist George Harriman’s cartoon strip Krazy Kat in the New York Times . In the case of Hemingway, heavy drinking seems to have contributed to the nonsensical style of “Wine of Wyoming.”

Wister and Yellowstone

Pauline and an exhausted Ernest headed for Yellowstone National Park after he finished A Farewell to Arms . On the way, they stopped in Shell, Wyo., on the west side of the Bighorns, to meet Owen Wister, who wrote The Virginian , the most famous western of its time, set in Wyoming. Wister was an ardent supporter of Hemingway’s work, and the two shared a dedication to observation and detail.

Wister was born in 1860. By the time he died in 1938, he said, “It’s not my world anymore.” Hemingway would remember Wister as a “sweet old guy” and “most unselfish and loving,” one of the few writers he ever liked. Wister was an old-fashioned gentleman and one of the last of a vanishing breed.

After taking in the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, Hemingway and Pauline concluded their automobile trip in Casper, where they caught the train to visit Pauline’s family in Piggot, Ark. Hemingway reportedly wrote 600 pages in Wyoming that summer, which was about the same number of fish he and Pauline had caught during their stay.

The L Bar T near Cody

In 1930, Hemingway, Pauline, and Ernest’s son Jack (Bumby) returned to Wyoming, this time traveling to Cody, Wyo., named for its founder, Wild West showman William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. From there, the Hemingways found their way to the L Bar T Ranch, northwest of Cody, in Wyoming but near Cooke City, Mont. The ranch was owned by Olive and Lawrence Nordquist, who would become his friends. Ernest liked the L Bar T because no one seemed to know him there and when they learned who he was, they didn’t seem to care. Olive Nordquist reported that Hemingway started each day with a big breakfast and half a bottle of wine, then retired to his cabin to write. For the rest of the day, he drank whiskey. He was working on Death in the Afternoon , his bullfight book.

That first year at the L Bar T, there were reports of a black bear bothering cattle on the South Fork of the Shoshone River. Hemingway and the other hunters killed a horse, sliced it open and left it in the sun to rot. When the bear was attracted, they shot her.

Whether it was recklessness, alcohol, sheer accident or some combination, injuries plagued him. After killing a grizzly at the L Bar T, Ernest galloped triumphantly down the mountain, smashed his knee and had to be taken to the Cody hospital, where he suffered septicemia. In another accident, he slashed his face while hunting and required stitches. Accidents are a recognized manifestation of PTSD, especially in those who have experienced war.

In November 1930, he rolled his car while trying to avoid an oncoming car on one of the narrow roads of the time. A spiral fracture of his arm required several surgeries and a two-month recovery in the hospital in Billings, Mont. In true Hemingway fashion, he made notes and observations that would become the short story “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio.”

In 1936, Hemingway worked on To Have and Have Not at the L Bar T. The book is violent, with death or the threat of death as a constant theme. He wrote to poet Archibald MacLeish from the ranch that he had killed two grizzlies. He would later kill another.

In the letter, he told his friend, “Me I like life very much. So much that it will be a big disgust when have to shoot myself.” And he lamented that no one liked what he wrote anymore. He hadn’t had a big hit since A Farewell to Arms .

In 1939, Ernest brought with him to the L Bar T the portable radio he had carried during the Spanish Civil War. On Sept. 1, 1939, he ran out into the field, shouting for anyone to hear, “The Germans have marched into Poland! The Germans have marched into Poland!” It was a watershed moment and the end of an era World War II had begun in Europe. Ernest would never again return to the L Bar T.

That last visit to the L Bar T was a watershed in another way. Within the span of a few days in July, Hemingway had separate encounters with two of his wives, Martha Gellhorn, whom he would soon marry, and all his children. The meeting with Hadley Mowrer (now remarried) focused on their son, Bumby. Later, Pauline flew out to meet him his intent was to use this time to end their marriage. Without missing a beat, Hemingway left with Martha to drive to Sun Valley, Idaho, before Martha, a journalist, set out to Finland to cover the war.

He had met the restless and ambitious Martha in 1936 at Sloppy Joe’s café and bar in Key West, Fla. The history of Hemingway’s triangulations was repeating, with Martha now the third party, just as Pauline had been when Ernest and Hadley were married.

Cheyenne and a new wife

Ernest and Pauline divorced in November 1940, and again without missing a beat, Ernest and Martha were married that same month by a justice of the peace at the Union Pacific Railroad depot in Cheyenne.Traveling by train, they got off to get married, then traveled on to New York. Almost as if it were a honeymoon present, Martha begged Hemingway to go with her to China. There, she covered the war in China for Collier’s Magazine , and Ernest secured a magazine assignment of his own. He called her “Ambition” and she called him “U.C.” for “uncooperative companion.”

He could also be called spy: A Soviet-era document reveals that before he left for China, Hemingway signed on for espionage with the Soviet Union.

In 1944, as both covered the war, Martha arrived in England where Hemingway was recovering in the hospital from a concussion caused by an auto accident after a drunken party. She was not inclined to be sympathetic, as she despised his overeating and drinking. In London, Hemingway met and began to court Mary Welsh.

Mary worked as a feature writer for Time , Life and Fortune magazines. He was still married to Martha, but their marriage was unraveling. Martha divorced him in 1945, and he and Mary married in 1946 in Cuba. Richard and Marjorie Cooper hosted the wedding reception at their flat in Vedado, Cuba. Richard had served in the British army but also had ties to Wyoming. Their gift to the Hemingways was a set of silverware engraved with a custom design that included mountains, arrows and military insignia.

Casper and a difficult pregnancy

In 1946 in Casper, Hemingway again witnessed a wife endure a dangerous pregnancy. Mary was admitted to Natrona County Hospital with an ectopic pregnancy and a ruptured fallopian tube. After hours of intense pain, her veins collapsed, and the attending physician declared he could do no more.

Ernest scrubbed and flew into action, demanded the physician find a competent vein and give plasma. Ernest manipulated the bag and line until it flowed. After more plasma, blood transfusions, and surgery, she survived. For Ernest, this was proof that “fate could be f--ked.”

Hemingway met his sons in Rawlins and took them to Casper, where they fished in the North Platte River while Mary rested in the hospital. At the Mission Motor Court in Casper, Ernest began the manuscript that would later become Garden of Eden . At the same time, he was writing the novel, Across the River and into the Trees. The setting is once again Italy, yet Wyoming makes an early appearance.

In the novel, Jackson, the driver, is an auto mechanic from Rawlins. He talks about going to that “big place,” the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, to look at paintings because he thinks he ought to. The colonel reminds him the painters were restricted to religious subjects and asks him his theories on art. Jackson remarks he wishes they would paint some of the high country around Cortina, the “sunset color rocks, the pines, and the snow and all the pointed steeples.”

“If I had a joint or a roadhouse or some sort of inn, say, I could use one of those,’ the driver said. ‘But if I brought home a picture of some woman, my old woman would run me from Rawlins to Buffalo. I’d be lucky if I got to Buffalo.”

“You could give it to the local museum.”

“All they got in the local museum is arrow heads, war bonnets, scalping knives, different scalps, petrified fish, pipes of peace, photographs of Liver Eating Johnston, and the skin of some bad man that they hanged him and some doctor skinned him out. One of those women pictures would be out of place there.”

Later, on the causeway entering Venice, the colonel says to Jackson, “…It’s a tougher town than Cheyenne when you really know it, and everybody is very polite.”

“I wouldn’t say Cheyenne was a tough town, sir.”

“Well, it’s a tougher town than Casper.”

“Do you think that’s a tough town, sir?”

“It’s an oil town. It’s a nice town.”

“But I don’t think it’s tough, sir. Or ever was.”

Liver Eating Johnston was not the only mountain man to make his way onto a page of Hemingway’s. In 1948, a former Soviet spy gave testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which came uncomfortably close to the writer. In a letter to his friend Charles “Buck” Lanham, Hemingway offered a “Jim Bridger defense.” Yes, he had done odd jobs for the Soviets, he said, but he was trustworthy like Bridger. He compared his actions to those of the fur trapper, who had mediated between Indian tribes and encroaching settlers.

The Lanham friendship was sealed during World War II. Hemingway served as a war correspondent embedded with Colonel Lanham’s infantry regiment in France and was later reprimanded for military activities that were not allowed in his role as a correspondent.

Hemingway lived by his own code. In literature, it had to do with his revolutionary writing style.

A long Wyoming friendship

Hemingway visited Richard and Marjorie Cooper in Wyoming. More often, the Coopers and Hemingways met in Cuba, Bimini, and Tanganyika, where the Coopers owned a tea plantation.

Cooper’s entrepreneurial father, Frank, had moved his wife, son Richard, and daughter Barbara from Medicine Bow, Wyo., back to England but had to return to Wyoming in 1904 when oil was discovered in McFadden, near Medicine Bow (setting for The Virginian ). Richard Cooper had to maintain residence in Wyoming to collect the royalties.

Hemingway and Cooper shared more than a friendship. At different times they both had affairs with the same woman, Jane Mason, in Africa and Cuba. This worldly, wealthy lifestyle meant the Hemingway and Cooper children were frequently without their parents. The Coopers’ son and daughter were left in the care of Cooper’s sister Barbara in the Laramie home at Grand Avenue and 15th Street. (The house is now home to the University of Wyoming’s American Studies program.)

In 1951, Hemingway endured a string of losses. Richard Cooper drowned in three inches of water in a lake in Africa. Both Ernest’s mother and his former wife Pauline died in 1951, and he expressed considerable remorse.

Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Old Man and the Sea in 1953. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, but was unable to travel to Sweden because of declining health.

Casper again

The last Hemingway site in Wyoming is again Casper. His friend A.E. Hotchner described the April, 1961, scene. Ernest was on a flight from Idaho to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he received electric shock treatment for depression. The plane stopped in Casper for repairs, and he tried to walk into the moving propeller, presumably an attempted suicide.

At 61, Hemingway was battling depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and liver disease caused from years of hard drinking.

When two professors from the University of Montana had come to Ketchum the previous November to invite Hemingway to lecture, they were stunned by his frail appearance and demeanor: He spoke in spurts and didn’t want to discuss his writing at all. The scene was reminiscent of Hemingway’s visit with Owen Wister more than 30 years earlier in that they considered Hemingway “enormously considerate,” gentle, and a man with “Old World manners.”

The electroshock therapy resulted in memory loss and an inability to string words together. After a second hospitalization, again at Mayo with more electroshock, he was discharged with the prognosis that he was improved, yet Mary felt that he was not. Though she had locked up the guns, Ernest knew where the keys were. On July 2 ,1961, in Ketchum, he held a gun to his forehead and, like his father, pulled the trigger.

In Hemingway’s story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” first published in Esquire in 1936, a dying writer waits to be flown out of the African bush for treatment of gangrene. In his fevered state, he remembers Wyoming:

But what about the rest that he had never written?

What about the ranch and the silvered gray of the sage brush, the quick, clear water in the irrigation ditches, and the heavy green of the alfalfa. The trail went up into the hills and the cattle in the summer were shy as deer. The bawling and steady noise and slow moving mass raising a dust as you brought them down in the fall. And behind the mountains, the clear sharpness of the peak in the evening light and, riding down along the trail in the moonlight, bright across the valley. Now he remembered coming down through the timber in the dark holding the horse’s tail when you could not see and all the stories he meant to write.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist and short-story writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway based many of his stories on his experiences during World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II. Early days Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the first son and the second of six children born to Clarence and Grace Hemingway. His father was a physician, and his mother was a homemaker who made extra money by giving voice and music lessons. As a youngster, Ernest spent summers vacationing with his family in rural Michigan. That close contact with nature would impart to Ernest his lifelong passion for the outdoors, and living in areas most would consider too remote or even isolated. He attended Oak Park and River Forest high schools, where he boxed and played football. Ernest excelled academically, especially in English. He wrote for the weekly school newspaper. After Ernest graduated from high school, he did not enroll in college. In 1916, when he was just 17 years old, he became a reporter for The Kansas City Star, and remained on that job for about six months.

Off to a horrible war Hemingway attempted to join the U.S. Army to see action in World War I, but failed the medical entrance exam, so he joined the American Field Service Ambulance Corps and left for Italy. Soon after Hemingway arrived at the Italian front, he witnessed the war's brutality. The first day on duty, he had to pick up human remains, most of which were women who had been working in a factory that was bombed. That first encounter with human death left Hemingway extremely shaken. In 1918, he was wounded, which ended his career as an ambulance driver. He was awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor from the Italian government. Coming home Hemingway returned to Oak Park following the war, and in 1920, took a job as a freelancer and foreign correspondent at the Toronto Star in Ontario. Hemingway married his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, in 1921. The couple elected to live in Paris, where Ernest covered the Greco-Turkish War for the Star. Ernest’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published in Paris in 1923. The couple returned to the states when Hadley was due to give birth to their first child. They had a son and named him John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway. Ernest resigned from the Star in 1924 to pursue his own writing. On his own in the U.S. Hemingway's first work published in America was In Our Time in 1925. He and Hadley divorced in 1927 later that same year, he married Pauline Pfeiffer. Also that year, Hemingway published Men Without Women, a collection of short stories containing “The Killers,” one of his best-known stories. His and Pauline’s first son, Patrick, was born in 1928, and two years later they had a second son, Gregory. While bearing their first child, Pauline went through a difficult labor, and the infant was delivered via Caesarean section. Ernest used that episode, and his experience during the war, to write A Farewell to Arms, published in 1929. A world of writing After Hemingway went on safari to Mombasa, Nairobi, and Machakos, Kenya, he wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro in 1932. While he was in Spain reporting on the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway broke ties with his friend, novelist and war correspondent John Dos Passos, because Dos Passos persisted in reporting atrocities committed not only by the fascists whom Hemingway disliked, but also the Republicans whom Hemingway favored. When Francisco Franco's forces won the Spanish Civil War in the spring of 1939, Hemingway lost his adopted homeland to Franco's fascist nationalists. Less than a year later, he lost his beloved home in Key West, Florida, owing to his 1940 divorce. A few weeks after he divorced Pauline, he married Martha Gellhorn, his companion when he was in Spain. The same year, his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls, based on events in the Spanish Civil War, was published. On December 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II, and Hemingway wanted to take part in naval warfare. While aboard his fishing boat, the Pilar, Hemingway supposedly patrolled for German submarines off the coasts of Cuba and the U.S. Later, as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine, Hemingway took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy on a landing craft, coming in on the ninth wave after most of the action was ended. Postwar writing Following the war, Hemingway began to work on the novel The Garden of Eden. He never finished it, but it would be published posthumously in 1986. He also worked on a trilogy, comprising The Sea When Young, The Sea When Absent, and The Sea in Being. The latter would be published in 1952 as The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest divorced Martha Gellhorn. Shortly thereafter, he married his fourth and final wife, war correspondent Mary Welsh, whom he had met overseas in 1944. The Old Man and the Sea was a huge success, earning Hemingway both the Pulitzer prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Then, bad luck struck. While on safari, Hemingway suffered injuries in two plane crashes. The injuries were serious: He sprained his right shoulder, arm, and left leg, sustained a grave concussion, temporarily lost vision in his left eye, and hearing in his left ear. In addition, he suffered paralysis of the sphincter, a crushed vertebra, ruptured liver, spleen and kidney, and first-degree burns on his face, arms, and leg. A few months later, Hemingway was badly injured in a bushfire that inflicted second-degree burns on his legs, torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. The pain was horrible he was unable to travel to Stockholm, Sweden, to accept his Nobel Prize. A downward spiral Hemingway did glimpse a slight glimmer of meaning when he revived some manuscripts from 1928 and worked on them from 1957 to 1960. The resultant work became A Moveable Feast, published posthumously in 1964. He seemed to come alive however, a lifetime of heavy drinking had caught up with him. His health also was threatened by high blood pressure and aortal inflammation. He became more depressed — which was aggravated by more heavy drinking.

Hemingway attempted suicide in the spring of 1961. He received electroconvulsive therapy for depression however, a few weeks short of his 62nd birthday, he put a shotgun to his head and took his life on the morning of July 2, 1961. His remains were interred in the Catholic cemetery of Ketchum, Idaho. The influence of Hemingway's writings on American literature was considerable, and it continues today.

How Hemingway survived two back-to-back plane crashes

Years before he died of suicide, Hemingway was almost fatally injured in two different plane crashes in Africa in 1954. It reportedly ruptured his organs and left him with sprained limbs and dislocated shoulder. He is also said to have suffered first-degree burns on much of his body and cracked his skull, which gave him concussions. He was on his way to Murchison falls with wife Mary Welsh when the plane struck a utility pole and “crash-landed in heavy brush”.

The next day, the second plane that was used to reach a medical care center exploded as well, causing leakage of cerebral fluid in the author. After the plane crashes, in order to cope with the unbearable pain caused by the life-threatening accidents, Hemingway reportedly resorted to drinking alcohol more heavily.

Author and journalist Ernest Miller Hemingway with his wife Mary on holiday in Stresa, Italy (Getty Images)

Critical Acclaim

Following their marriage, Hemingway’s wife became pregnant. Shortly thereafter, the couple chose to relocate to America. In 1928, their son Patrick Hemingway was born. The couple then spent summers in Wyoming while settling in Key West, Florida. Throughout this period in his life, Hemingway completed A Farewell to Arms. It is this novel which secured Hemingway’s position in the literary canon.

When not writing, Ernest Hemingway devoted much time to deep-sea fishing, bullfighting, and big-game hunting. During the time he spent reporting about the Spanish Civil War, the author met Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn was a fellow war correspondent. It was during this 1930s era that Hemingway also compiled the material for what would be his next book, For Whom the Bell Tolls. The author was eventually nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for this novel.

Around this era, Hemingway’s marriage to Pfeiffer began to deteriorate. After Pfeiffer and Hemingway divorced, he married Gellhorn. The couple then bought a farm close to Havana, Cuba. This home would function as their primary residence during the winter season.

In 1941, America entered World War II. It was during this time that Hemingway worked as a correspondent. He took part in several key moments of the war, one of which included the D-Day landing. As the war began coming to a close, the writer met Mary Welsh. After divorcing Gellhorn, he went on to marry her.

Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea in 1951. This is likely the author’s most famous novel and eventually won him the Pulitzer Prize.


We have reopened with in-person tours available on Saturday and Sunday. We will also be open on Fridays in July. (Advanced reservations required)Additional days may be added in the future which we will update here and on our facebook page.

Please click here for more details and to schedule an in-person tour.

Take a moment and stand in front of this beautiful Victorian residence, with its expansive porch and grand turret and be prepared to take a small step back in time. As you stroll up the wooden walkway to the front door, you begin to see what life was like at the turn of the 20th century. The home was designed by architect Wesley Arnold and built in 1890 for Ernest Hall, Hemingway's maternal grandfather, and maintains many of its original features that even Ernest would find familiar.

The foundation for Ernest Hemingway's life and work can be found in Oak Park, Ill. His first 20 years in this Chicago suburb, with prairies and woods to the west, prepared him for his life as a writer. Learn more about Hemingway & Oak Park by clicking HERE

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