Today’s post is going to be another instalment in my “Spotlight On:…” series. Today is the turn of Ernest Hemingway.
As always, the post will be divided up into 6 different parts:
1. A little bit about their life
2. Their works I have read
3. Their works I am yet to read
4. Great film/TV adaptations based on their works
6. An author biography recommendation
A little bit about their life
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on 21st July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois to parents, Clarence and Grace Hemingway. His father was a doctor. Ernest attended public schools and began writing in high school. The parts of his life that stood out the most to him and gave him the best memories were the times he spent in his parents’ cabin in Michigan, learning to fish, hunt and appreciate the outdoors.
After graduating high school, Ernest decided not to attend university but went straight to Kansas City where he was employed as a reporter for the Star. Ernest Hemingway tried to serve in World War I many times but was refused due to a defective eye. He finally joined as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in 1918. On 8th July 1918, at nineteen years of age, he was injured on the Austro-Italian front at Fossalta di Piave. He was treated in hospital in Milan where he met, and fell in love with, a nurse called Agnes von Kurowsky. Agnes initially accepted his proposal marriage but then left him for another man – something that stuck with Ernest for the rest of his life. Although devastating, these experiences gave Ernest Hemingway the ability to write A Farewell to Arms. At the age of twenty, he returned home and took a job at the Toronto Star. It was in Chicago that Hemingway met Hadley Richardson, the woman who would become his first wife. The couple married and quickly moved to Paris, where Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent for the Star.
In Paris, Hemingway became known as part of “The Lost Generation”, along with Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce. In 1923, Ernest and Hadley had a song called John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway. In 1926, he released his first novel The Sun Also Rises which was incredibly well received. It is a book about a group of “aimless expatriates in France and Spain – members of the postwar Lost Generation” (a phrase that Hemingway hated whilst simultaneously making it famous).
Hemingway continued writing for most of the postwar period. Though he stayed in Paris, he also travelled extensively around Europe. Hemingway and Hadley also got divorced, due to his affair with a woman named Pauline Pfeiffer who would become his second wife. Pauline became pregnant and they decided to move back to America. After the birth of their son, Patrick Hemingway, they settled in Key West, Florida but spend their summers in Wyoming. A Farewell to Arms was released in 1929 – this book reached back to his experiences in Italy and secured his place in literary history as one of the greats.
Hemingway spent a lot of the 30’s pursuing adventure: hunting in Africa, bullfighting in Spain and deep-sea fishing in Florida. While reporting on the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Hemingway met a fellow war correspondent called Martha Gellhorn (soon to become his third wife) and gathered material for his next novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was eventually nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. After his marriage to Pauline finished, he soon married Martha and they bought a home in Cuba together which served as their winter residence.
When World War II started, Hemingway served as a war correspondent. During his role as a war correspondent, he met another fellow correspondent called Mary Walsh, whom he later married after divorcing Gellhorn. In 1951, Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea, which would become perhaps his most famous book, finally winning him the Pulitzer Prize he had long been denied.
Ernest Hemingway had such a fruitful life; he was married four times, he travelled extensively, he survived multiple plane crashes, he lived all over the world, in 1954 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Despite this, he suffered from depression and was treated for numerous conditions such as high blood pressure and liver disease. His last book was A Moveable Feast which was inspired by his days in Paris.
Ernest Hemingway retired in Idaho where he battled with worsening mental and physical health. On 2nd July 1961, Hemingway committed suicide in his home.
Their works I have read/am yet to read
So far, I have only read The Old Man and the Sea. I enjoyed this book but I do think, writing his biography and learning more about his books, that I would enjoy A Moveable Feast, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms more.
Great film/TV adaptations of their works
I’ve never seen any, nor have I heard of any big ones! If you know some good film or TV adaptations of his works, please let me know as I’d be really interested to watch them.
“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
An author biography recommendation
If you want to learn more about Hemingway’s very interesting life, I would recommend reading Ernest Hemingway: A Biography by Mary Dearborn. A lot of his books are also semi-autobiographical and take a lot from his life experiences, so I think even just reading his fiction would give you a great insight into his life!
Thank you for reading!
Love, Zoë x