Biography of Ernest Hemingway



Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 to a respected and wealthy family in Oak Park, Illinois. He left high school early in 1917 to work as a local reporter in Kansas City. In 1918 he went to the Italian front as a driver with a medical force. He was wounded and returned to the USA after the end of the war in 1919, where he again worked as a reporter in Michigan. He later worked for the “Toronto Star”.

At the beginning of the 20s he lived with his first wife in Paris, where he initially continued to work as a reporter, but also socialized with personalities such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. At this time he developed his simple and concise style. His breakthrough as a writer came in 1927 with his novel “Fiesta”.

Hemingway was an adventure and a loner, and was fascinated by life in nature, hunting and deep sea fishing. It corresponded to his image of a man to face challenges and to prove himself. He went to the Spanish Civil War as a war reporter, and he also reported from the Second World War. He went on big game safaris in Africa and watched the bullfights in Spain with great enthusiasm. He has processed his experiences and experiences in his reports, stories and novels.

Hemingway was married four times. With his third wife he settled in Cuba in 1939, where he returned again and again later. He incorporated his experiences and impressions there into the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” published in 1952. In 1953 he received the Pulitzer Prize for this, and in 1954 the Nobel Prize for his oeuvre.

Ernest Hemingway voluntarily passed away on July 2, 1961 after a serious illness.


Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the second of six children of the respected doctor Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and his artistically gifted wife Grace Hall. The strict puritanical upbringing of his father shaped Hemingway as well as his closeness to nature and the long summers in the wilderness of Walloon Lake. There his father taught him how to hunt and fish as well as how to use tools and weapons. In this “male world” Ernest found a balance to the female-dominated everyday life of mother and sisters .

Hemingway left high school early in 1917 to work as a local reporter in Kansas City. In accordance with the requirements of the paper, he developed his simple and concise style there . In 1918 he volunteered for the American Red Cross Medical Corps. He was badly wounded on the Italian front  . In the hospital he met his first great love, the American nurse Agnes von Kurowsky.

In early 1919 Hemingway returned to the USA, where he was celebrated as a hero. In fact, however, the experience of the nearness of death and the rejection by Agnes had unsettled him deeply. From 1920 he got the chance to write for the ” Toronto Star”. The pay was bad, but at least he saw his lyrics published. In the fall of 1920 he went to Chicago to write. There he met the writer Sherwood Anderson  (1876-1941), who became Hemingway’s friend and patron.


On September 3, 1921, Hemingway married Elizabeth Hadley Richardson , eight years his senior ; three months later, the couple embarked for Europe. As a freelance European correspondent for the “Toronto Star” he lived with Hadley in Paris . Through the patron Gertrude Stein , Hemingway got to know the avant-garde of European and American modernism, including James Joyce , Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as the painters Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró . His reports from Europe in the 1920s were sharp-tongued and revealing. However, Hemingway did not lose sight of the goal of literary writing.

In 1923 the son John Hadley Nicanor (Bumby) was born. Despite hard work, Hemingway still earned little; the family lived in poverty. The marriage was unable to cope with this stress test. Hemingway’s relationship with the wealthy and attractive Pauline Pfeiffer  was a way out for him, while his wife Hadley suffered as a result. In 1927 he divorced her and married Pauline.

In the meantime he achieved his  breakthrough as a writer in 1926 with his novel “Fiesta” . In the work Hemingway addressed his enthusiasm for bullfighting . In addition, the basic mood of the novel hit the nerve of the time: the heroes were each in his own way victims of the war and victims of their time.


In 1928 Hemingway moved with Pauline to Key West, Florida , where he became a passionate fisherman while writing. His second son Patrick was born there. In the anti-war novel In Another Land, Hemingway had processed his own war experiences. The work finally made him famous in 1928. In the same year he was  severely shaken by his father’s suicide .

In 1934 Hemingway bought a seaworthy motor yacht, which he named “Pilar”. Hemingway was an adventurer and loner and was fascinated by life in nature, hunting and deep-sea fishing; in Africa he took part in big game safaris. According to his image of a man, he looked for challenges to face them. For years he wrote and traveled between America, Africa and Europe. He has processed his experiences in reports, stories and novels.


Excessive alcoholism and brawls cemented a public image of the writer that contradicted the lonely, doubting and searching man behind him. His sudden outbursts of anger and a barely concealed narcissism led to a break with old friends and companions.

In 1931, Hemingway’s third son, Gregory, was born. However, Hemingway rejected the role of a family man, which increasingly strained the relationship with Pauline. Long breakups due to Hemingway’s participation in  and coverage of the Spanish Civil War hastened the relationship’s end. The marriage ended in divorce in 1940. In October the novel “Whom the Hour Strikes” was published; it was a great success.


In 1940 Hemingway married the self-confident and independent journalist Martha Gelhorn and settled with her at Finca Vigiá in Cuba. He incorporated his experiences and impressions there into the novel “The Old Man and the Sea”. The Cuban fisherman Santiago first wins the fight against a huge marlin; However, sharks dispute his catch.

On the initiative of his wife Martha, Hemingway went with her to the Sino-Japanese front as a  war correspondent in World War II ; from 1944 they reported from Europe. The couple separated at Christmas 1944; a year later they divorced.


In London, Hemingway had met Mary Welsh , who became his fourth wife in 1946; the marriage lasted until Hemingway’s death in 1961.

The novel “Across the River and Into the Woods”, published in 1950, received extremely mixed reviews. Hemingway was able to build on his great success again in 1952 when the short novel “The Old Man and the Sea” was published. In 1953 he received the Pulitzer Prize for it and in 1954 the Nobel Prize for Literature . Hemingway’s style is considered epoch-making.

All his life Hemingway was a colorful figure in public life, on which he himself worked tirelessly. The “Hemingway Myth” was nourished in 1954 when the writer survived two plane crashes in Africa within 24 hours . Over interest in the adventurer, the public lost interest in the writer Hemingway; the artist himself also lost the feeling for walking the tightrope between fiction and self-presentation.

When political changes became foreseeable after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, Hemingway bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho in 1959 . From 1960, the writer’s health deteriorated noticeably. He suffered from physical ailments and severe depression. On July 2, 1961 – shortly before his 62nd birthday – he shot himself in his house in Ketchum.

Tabular CV

  • 1899 Born on July 21, 1899 as the second child of the doctor Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and his wife Grace Hall in Oak Park, Illinois.
  • 1913-1917 Attended high school in Oak Park.
  • 1917 Reporter for the Kansas City Star.
  • 1918 Volunteer for the American Red Cross on the Italian front; severe wound; Encounter with Agnes von Kurowsky.
  • 1919 Return to Oak Park; first unsuccessful literary attempts.
  • 1920 Worked as a journalist, first with the Toronto Star, then in Chicago. Friendship with Sherwood Anderson began in Chicago. Acquaintance with Hadley Richardson.
  • 1921 Married Hadley. Embarkation for Europe as a correspondent for the “Toronto Star”.
  • 1922-1927 Stay in Paris; Friendship with the patron Gertrude Stein; numerous trips in Europe; Work as a journalist and writer.
  • 1923 Birth of son John Hadley Nicanor (Bumby).
  • 1925 First meeting with Pauline Pfeiffer. Friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • 1926 Literary breakthrough with the bullfighting novel “Fiesta”.
  • 1927 Divorce from Hadley; Wedding with Pauline.
  • 1928 Return to the USA in Key West, Florida. Birth of the son Patrick. Father’s suicide. Literary breakthrough with the anti-war novel “In Another Land”.
  • 1931 Birth of their son Gregory.
  • 1933-1934 Big game safari in Africa accompanied by Pauline.
  • 1934 Acquisition of the ocean-going motor yacht »Pilar«.
  • 1936-1938 Supporting the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1936 Acquaintance with Martha Gellhorn, later his third wife.
  • 1939 Work on “Who’s the Hour” in Cuba; the novel published in 1940 was a huge success.
  • 1940 Divorce from Pauline; Marriage to Martha Gellhorn; Purchase of Finca Vigiá in Cuba.
  • 1943 With Martha as a reporter for »Collier’s« at theaters of war in Asia.
  • 1944 With Martha as war correspondent for »Collier’s« in London and Paris. In London he met Mary Welsh, later his fourth wife.
  • 1945 Return to Cuba; Divorce from Martha.
  • 1946 Wedding with Mary Welsh in Havana.
  • 1948-1950 Trip to Italy with Mary; Meeting with Adriana Ivancich; further trips in Europe.
  • 1952 Publication of »The Old Man and the Sea« in LIFE magazine, a triumphant success.
  • 1953 Travel in Europe and Africa; Pulitzer Prize.
  • 1954 Survival of two airplane crashes in Africa. Nobel Prize in literature.
  • 1957 Work on “Paris – A Festival for Life”
  • 1959 Revolution in Cuba and Fidel Castro takeover. Buy a home in Ketchum, Idaho.
  • 1960 Physical suffering; severe depression; Electroshock treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
  • 1961 Suicide on July 2, 1961, by gunshot in the house in Ketchum.


  • 1926 The Sun Also Rises (Novel)

  • 1927 Men Without Women (Short stories)

  • 1929 A farewell to arms (Novel)

  • 1932 Death in the Afternoon (Essay)

  • 1935 Green Hills of Africa (Hunting history / factual report)

  • 1936 The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

    (Short story)

  • 1936 The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Short story)

  • 1937 To have and have not (Novel)

  • 1938 The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories

    (Short stories)

  • 1940 For Whom the Bell Tolls (Novel)

  • 1952 The Old Man and the Sea (Novel)

  • 1964 A Moveable Feast | (Memories) published posthumously

  • 1970 Islands in the Stream | (Roman) published posthumously

  • 1986 The Garden of Eden | Novel fragment (published posthumously)

  • 1985 The Dangerous Summer | Bullfight report in Spain (published posthumously)


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