A selected history of Ernest Hemingway


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The Independent Online

Ernest Hemingway was one of the most-celebrated writers of the twentieth century, possessing a straightforward prose style, which often leaned towards understatement.

Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899 and started his career as a writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City when he was 17.

He joined a volunteer ambulance unit in the Italian army near the end of the First World War. He served, and was seriously wounded on the front line, eventually being decorated by the Italian Government for his bravery. After the war he returned to America, becoming a news reporter in cities in both Canada and America, with assignments in Europe to cover events such as the Greek Revolution.

Short stories and novels from Hemingway began to appear in the 1920s. It is reported that when his parents received the first copies of their son's book In Our Time (1924), they read it with horror and sent the volumes back to the publisher over its coarse style. During the decade, Hemingway became a member of the group of expatriate Americans in Paris, which he described in his first important work, The Sun Also Rises (1926).

Equally successful was A Farewell to Arms (1929), the study of an American ambulance officer's disillusionment in the war and his role as a deserter. Hemingway used his experiences as a reporter during the civil war in Spain as the background for his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). The short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1952), telling of an old fisherman's journey, his long and lonely struggle with a fish and the sea was also well-received. Soldiers, hunters and bullfighters were often the types of characters he wrote into his works.

Hemingway lived in Key West, Florida, in the United States during much of the 1930s and his home there still stands as a museum to the writer. He also resided in Cuba during his later years.

His work as a writer was recognised in 1954 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Posthumous works, novels and collections, such as A Moveable Feast (1964), By-Line (1967), 88 Poems (1979), and Selected Letters (1981), and releases that have continued up to the present day have only added to the writer’s fame following his suicide in Idaho, in 1961.