The stormy journalist reported on the most important wars in history. Among the militias and their people, Hemingway wrote novels from the heart of the conflicts that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954
The craddle of an adventurer
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in the United States, on July 21st of 1899. The father was a doctor and the mother a singing and opera teacher. An educated family and respected in the community.
Between 1913 and 1917, Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School, where he practiced boxing, athletics, water polo and football.He stood out in English classes and was part of the school’s orchestra, with his sister Marcelline, for two years.
On the greatest influences in youth would come to be Fannie Biggs, the journalism teacher. Classes reminded of a newspaper’s newsroom.
The best students saw their works published in The Trapeze, the school’s paper. Hemingway’s first piece, about the concert of the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra, would be published in that newspaper in January of 1916.
The initiation to journalism
After leaving school he went to work as an intern journalist at The Kansas City Star. There he worked for six months, long enough for Hemingway to be influenced by the newspaper’s writing style: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."
A Farewell to Arms
During the period of the First World War, he tried to enlist, but was rejected for having a sight problem. Determined to fight, he was able to get a position as an ambulance driver at the Red Cross.
In Italy, he fell in love for the nurse Agnes Von Kurowsky. He proposed to her, she accepts, but later she left him for another man. The episode devastated the young writer, but inspired him, later, in the creation of the famous book A Farewell to Arms (1929).
He returned to the United States after being hurt, with some severity, by a bomb. Shortly after, he left to Canada, because a family friend had offered him a job in Toronto. He later worked as a freelancer and correspondent of the Toronto Star Weekly.
He moved to Chicago in September of 1920, where he met the writer Sherwood Anderson and also worked as an associate editor at the monthly newspaper Cooperative Commonwealth. He fell in love, shortly after, with Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, whom he married and had a son. He returned to Paris in 1921, as a correspondent of the Toronto Star Weekly.
The whole word awaiting
In Paris he integrated the famous group to which Gertrude Stein (writer, poet and art collector) called «The Lost Generation». Being Stein his mentor, it allowed him to know great writers and artists of his generation. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Guillaume Apolinaire and Henry Matisse are some examples of these personalities.
During the first two years in Paris, Hemingway published 88 pieces in Toronto Start. He covered the Greco-Turkish War and reported his trips.
The life and work of Hemingway have an intense relation with Spain, the country where he lived for four years. In Pamplona he became fascinated by bullfights, carrying after that experience for the book The Sun Also Rises (1926).
In 1927 he married the fashion journalist Pauline Pfeiffer, with whom he had two children. In 1928, the couple decided to live in Key West, in Florida.
Nevertheless, Hemingway missed the life he had as a journalist and the marriage with Pauline became unstable. In that time, the writer met Joe Russel, the owner of the Sloppy Joe’s Bar, whom becomes his partner in fun..
Fishing was another of Ernest Hemingway’s passions. During the 30’s he made long trips searching for the marlin. Many of them ended in Havana, Cuba, where he met Fidel Castro.In one of those trips he met and fell in love for Jane Mason, who was married. Inevitably, they became lovers.
A love for each book
He fell in love again in 1936 for the fearless journalist Martha Gelhorn, the motive of the second divorce, confirming what his friend Scott Fitzgerald had predicted when they met in Paris: «You’re going to need a woman for each book».
Hemingway and Martha lived their romance in broad climate of war. Both were in Spain covering the Civil War. Hemingway was the correspondent of the North American Newspaper Alliance. However, he quickly became connected to the cause and allied to the Republican forces against fascism. This scenario was later portrayed in the book For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The Cuba times
As the Spanish Civil War had ended, he moved to Cuba where he lived until 1959. As a war correspondent of the north-American Navy, he participated in the landings of the Allies in Normandy and in the liberation of Paris, in 1945. In Cuba, during World War II, Hemingway assembled a web of informants in order to supply, to the government of the United States, information about the Spanish fascism sympathizers in the island.
In 1946, he married for the fourth and last time with Mary Welsh, a journalist too, shy and willing to live by the side of an ever more emotionally unstable Hemingway. In 1952, he published the famous The Old Man and The Sea.
Alfred Eisenstaedt, a photographer of LIFE magazine, who took the portraits of some of the most charismatic personalities of the 20th century, including Joseph Goebbels – the Nazi propaganda minister –confesses that Ernest Hemingway «was the most difficult man I ever photographed”.
The Nobel and Kilimanjaro
In 1953, the writer won the Pulitzer Prize and in the following year he was awarded with the Nobel of Literature.
In the same year that his work was consecrated on an international level, he suffered with his wife two airplane accidents, in Africa, that may have rushed his physical deterioration.
From the several trips he made to the African continent, he narrated his experiences in Green Hills of Africa (1935), The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1938).
At the age of 61, facing hypertension, diabetes, depression and memory loss problems, Hemingway killed himself.