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Ernest Hemingway  

One of America's most influential 20th Century writers, Ernest Hemingway produced a body of work that continues to be read by scholars, students and everyone who loves fine literature.
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Brief Biography of Ernest Hemingway

Born in 1899, Ernest Hemingway is one of the most important American writers of the 20th century.  His novels, short stories and works of nonfiction continue to be widely read in many languages.  His complex personality continues to fascinate people.   He has been described as competitive, combative, childish, kind, perceptive and courageous  (although at least one writer, Norman Mailer, has questioned his courage). Many people loved and respected him.   Others thought him a bully.  Whatever the description, his profound contribution to American letters cannot be denied.

  Born into an educated family  ( his father was a doctor and his mother was a music and voice teacher) Hemingway was introduced to the outdoors at an early age.   His love for fishing and hunting never waned.    These pursuits can often be found in his writings.   His well know short story "Big Two Hearted River" is set in the wilds of Upper Michigan.    A man of action, he participated in World War One as a young man ( and was wounded).    His work as a reporter in the 1920's influenced his writing style. He wrote short, clear sentences, keeping adverbs and adjectives at a minimum.   His stories are deceptively simple.  For Hemingway, less was more.   He purposely omitted things from his stories, letting the reader fill in the gaps.   Almost every word in his stories and novels was carefully chosen.   Stories like  "Hills Like White Elephants" and "Big Two Hearted River" possess a depth that can be missed at first reading.   His lean, carefully chosen prose earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Hemingway was devoted to his art and was a tireless worker.   He was highly disciplined for most of his life.   He also participated fully in life as a war correspondent, deep sea fisherman and big game hunter.  Married four times and the father of three sons, his excessive drinking and eating eventually led to physical and emotional problems as he grew older.  Suffering from hypertension, kidney and liver problems,  depression, paranoia and diabetes, seriously injured in two plane crashes while in Africa, Hemingway ( like his father before him) committed suicide on July 2, 1961.    He is buried near his final home in Ketchum, Idaho.

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