Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Grace and Clarence Edmonds Hemingway. Hemingway first published his writing in the Oak Park High School newspaper, and he began his journalistic apprenticeship as a teenage reporter for the Kansas City Star in 1917. Although his family expected him to attend college, Hemingway was drawn instead toward the excitement of World War I. In the spring of 1918 he volunteered with the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver on the frontline in Italy; in July 1918, two weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday, he was wounded in battle.
After recovering from his wounds, and until he was able to make a living writing fiction, Hemingway supported himself as a journalist. He lived in Paris in the early 1920s and worked as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. His first important work of fiction, a collection of short stories entitled In Our Time, appeared in 1925, followed in 1926 by The Sun Also Rises, considered a classic novel of the twentieth century. For the next three decades, Hemingway published one best-selling volume after another, including A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and The Old Man and the Sea. One of the most famous and influential novelists in history, Hemingway is known for his precise, innovative prose style and his unique vision of experience.
Hemingway married Hadley Richardson in 1921; following their divorce, he married Pauline Pfeiffer in 1927. That marriage also ended in divorce, and Hemingway married Martha Gelhorn in 1940, only to divorce her and marry Mary Welsh in 1945. His macho public image-hunter, aficionado of bullfighting, drinker, and womanizer-made him a celebrity. The author’s persona tended to overshadow Hemingway’s actual writing, and many readers, caught up in the superficial and glamorous aspects of his life and career, overlooked the timeless, fundamental values that anchored his fiction. The Hemingway code has often been summed up by the author’s own phrase “grace under pressure,” yet many observers fail to see that this “grace” is not only physical, but moral and spiritual as well. Much of Hemingway’s important fiction is value-centered and profoundly religious.
None of Hemingway’s fiction was written specifically for young adults. Yet, as with many classic authors, many of his works appeal to adults and young adults alike. Hemingway’s short stories and some of his longer fiction, especially The Old Man and the Sea, are taught in schools around the world, and young adult editions of The Old Man and the Sea have appeared in many languages. Hemingway received many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea in 1953, and the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. On July 2, 1961, Hemingway committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.