Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Ernest Hemingway was born on 21 July, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. His father was a doctor and his mother was an amateur musician. He was not academically successful and graduated from high school in 1917, near the bottom of his class. He sought to enlist in the army but was rejected due to his poor eyesight. He went to work as a cub reporter in Kansas City. He was doing moderately well as a reporter when he heard that Italy was recruiting ambulance drivers to serve on the Italian front and promptly offered his services. He was seriously injured and taken to a hospital where he fell in love with an English nurse, Agnes. He was no longer a young man, with stars in his eyes and romantic views about everything. War, death, disease, suffering, and decay changed his thinking. When he went back to America, his relationship with Agnes came to an end.
Hemingway then went to Paris and was a major figure in a group of writers called the “Lost Generation,” along with Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Ezra Pound. He drew on his bitter experiences and painful memories from World War I and wrote A Farewell to Arms (1929), which was an instant success.
Later, Hemingway went to Spain as a newspaper reporter. He was attracted by bull fighting, a major sport in Spain. He covered the Spanish Civil War. Then, he went to live in Cuba. He participated in World War II on submarine patrol duty. He became an expert on German rockets and was among the first batch of troops to storm Normandy Beach in 1944. Later, he went back to Cuba to deep-sea fish and write. In 1953, he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
After the Castro Revolution, he left Cuba and returned to America. War left him disillusioned. He was disappointed in love, too; though he married four times in his life, he could not understand the real meaning of life and love. He committed suicide in 1961. His literary masterpieces, apart from his short stories, include The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, and Death in the Afternoon.