The Sun Also Rises: Biography


Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899. His father, Clarence Hemingway, was a well-respected physician, and his mother, Grace Hall-Hemingway, gave music and voice lessons in their home. She taught Ernest, the second of her six children and her oldest son, to play the cello, and he performed in the orchestra for the high school student opera for two years. Hemingway would retain his interest in classical music for the rest of his life.

Hemingway spent every summer of his childhood in Michigan at the family cottage on Walloon Lake, where he explored the woods, often with his father, who taught him to hunt and fish. By 1911, his father was affected by depression, and stopped spending as much time with his son. But there were several other families who summered near them, and Hemingway found companionship with them. He pursued football and cross country, and excelled in swimming. He also took up boxing, and eventually tennis, luge, and skiing.

Hemingway graduated high school in 1917, and spent the summer in Michigan, still too young to enlist in the armed forces that were fighting World War I. He became a reporter at the Kansas City Star, and quickly learned the "short, declarative sentence" that would be essential to his later writing. He also learned the style sheet for the paper, which became central to his own style. He covered the usual beats for new reporters, including the police station, the emergency room, the train station, and the city council.

Hemingway joined the Missouri Home Guard and then went to Italy to volunteer as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. He drove a rolling canteen on the Piave River front and after only a few weeks he was hit by an Austrian trench mortar. He was not yet nineteen, and he spent half a year in the hospital recovering from his leg wounds. He fell in love with his American nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, but she broke off their relationship because of their age difference (she was ten years older).

Hemingway returned to the U.S. in 1919, and by early 1920 had found a freelance arrangement in Canada with the Toronto Star. He married Hadley Richardson in September, 1921, and began planning a move to Italy. In Chicago, Hemingway met Sherwood Anderson, who advised him that a young writer should go to Paris, not Italy. Hemingway and Hadley soon left for Paris with letters of introduction from Anderson to Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. He had a per-story arrangement with the Toronto Star when he left, and he and Hadley settled into an inexpensive apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

As a reporter in Europe, Hemingway circulated widely, covering the Genoa economic conference of 1922, the Lausanne Peace Conference, and the Greco-Turkish War. Wherever he went, he made a point of telling his readers how to live well in another country; it was through this travel as a reporter that he acquired his admiration for the insider.

While traveling, Hadley lost a valise that contained a substantial part of Hemingway's manuscripts. When Hadley became pregnant, Hemingway decided to return to Canada to get a regular job. In 1923, six of his poems were published in Poetry magazine. His work soon appeared in the Little Review, and he published Three Stories & Ten Poems. Bill Bird published Hemingway's collection of prose poems in our time, some of which were autobiographical.

Hemingway returned to Toronto to find a new editor at the Star who disliked him and gave him bad assignments. His first son, John, was born in October of 1923. Hemingway soon quit the Star and moved, with his family, back to Paris in 1924, to live off his wife's trust fund and whatever money he could make writing. Hemingway became connected with Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Sylvia Beach, and found unpaid work for Ford Madox Ford at the transatlantic review that connected him with countless artists and writers of the time. He became a well-known expatriate, with a distinctive appearance and style. At about this time, an American publisher, Horace Liveright , published Hemingway's collection of stories, In Our Time, many of which, such as "Big Two-Hearted River" and "Indian Camp," would eventually become famous.

Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, shortly after the latter had published The Great Gatsby. That summer, Hemingway wrote most of what would become The Sun Also Rises, but he didn't want to submit it to Liveright. Instead, he quickly wrote The Torrents of Spring, a satire of Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter, which was published by Liveright. Liveright wouldn't publish the satire, leaving Hemingway free to switch to Fitzgerald's publisher, Scribner's, which soon published both books. The Sun Also Rises appeared late in 1926.

The Sun Also Rises became Hemingway's breakthrough novel, with a collection of stories, Men Without Women, following a year later (1927). Hemingway explored several taboo subjects in this collection and managed to get away with it because of his oblique approach. ("Hills Like White Elephants," for example, depicts a young couple deciding to get an abortion, though the word is never used.)

Hemingway's affair with Pauline Pfeiffer led to his divorce from Hadley in 1927, and his marriage to Pauline a month later. He published A Farewell to Arms shortly thereafter, and it was also successful.

In 1928 Pauline gave birth to Hemingway's second son, Patrick. They moved to Key West, Florida, and Hemingway began work on Death in the Afternoon. While hunting in Montana with John Dos Passos, Hemingway broke his arm in a car accident and was unable to write for a year.

In 1932, he published Winner Take Nothing, a racy collection of short stories. In 1933 he took an African safari, which would become the basis for Green Hills of Africa (1935). He also began writing a regular series of personal essays for Esquire, which added to his fame and his media persona. He published To Have and Have Not in 1937, and felt obligated to become involved in the Spanish Civil War, where he also hid his affair with Martha Gellhorn while Pauline was confined to Key West with their two sons. He wrote his only play, The Fifth Column, while in Madrid.

In 1939, fleeing from his estranged wife, Hemingway took his fishing boat, the Pilar, to Havana, and settled in Cuba with her at a home he called La Finca Vigia. It was there that Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which was published to jubilant reviews.

As World War II spread, Hemingway wrote almost nothing. In 1944, he went to Europe as a correspondent for Collier's. His marriage to Martha Gellhorn failed, and later that year, Hemingway met his next wife, Mary Welsh Monks. He covered the Normandy invasion from a landing ship, unlike most of his fellow reporters, and, famously, led a small group of French irregulars and unaffiliated Allied troops in the liberation of the Ritz Bar in Paris. Hemingway was later court-martialed for behaving like an officer in combat, but he lied under oath and was cleared. He fought in the battle at Hurtgenwald, where he killed a German soldier charging at allied lines.

Hemingway returned to the U.S. in early 1945 with Mary Welsh. He soon sold film rights to two short stories for a large sum, removing financial pressure from him. He married Mary Welsh in March, 1946, and began work on a trilogy, which would remain unpublished during his life, but would become The Garden of Eden, A Moveable Feast, and Islands in the Stream. By 1947, Hemingway started to be troubled by high blood pressure, which would soon be joined by hypertension, diabetes, depression, and paranoia. He and Mary travel in Italy during 1948 and 1949, where Hemingway became infatuated with an eighteen-year-old woman, Adriana Ivancich. He began work on Across the River and Into the Trees (1950), which received very negative reviews. He entertained his young lover in Cuba, and his wife tolerated the affront.

In 1952, Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which won the Pulitzer Prize. He set out with his wife on a tour of Spain, and another safari in Africa, where they survived two plane crashes. They eventually returned to Cuba, where they received news in October, 1954, that Hemingway has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Hemingway continued work on The Garden of Eden and A Moveable Feast in Cuba, until the Castro revolution forced him to leave in 1959. He and Mary bought a home in Ketchum, Idaho, where Hemingway fought poor health and depression to continue writing, In the summer of 1959 he went to Spain to cover the bullfights for Life magazine, but the work became too long, and only a portion was published, though the longer, edited version became The Dangerous Summer.

Hemingway returned to Spain alone in 1960, where he wrote Mary several letters complaining about fears of going crazy. He entered the Mayo Clinic in the fall, and received electroshock treatments. He was released in early January, tried to kill himself, and was re-admitted, treated, and released later that summer. He shot and killed himself on July 2, 1961.

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