Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Clarence and Grace Hemingway. His first published works appeared in the Oak Park High School newspaper and the school’s literary magazine. After graduation, he worked as a reporter covering the police and hospital beat for the Kansas City Star. The allure of World War I appealed to him, and he enlisted with the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Not long after he arrived in Italy in 1918, he was severely wounded when a bomb exploded near the front line where he was delivering canteen supplies. After a lengthy recovery during which he wrote short stories and received many rejections from magazine editors, he began writing features for the Toronto Star newspaper.
In 1921 Hemingway married Hadley Richardson and moved to Paris as a European correspondent for the Toronto Star. In this old city, he wrote short stories while living the expatriate life. The couple traveled throughout Europe skiing and hiking, and Hemingway’s enduring fascination with bullfighting began when he attended his first bullfight in Spain.
In 1923 his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published as a very thin volume in Paris. Hemingway’s In Our Time, a collection of short stories published in the United States in 1925, caused critics to take notice of his terse modern style. The following year his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, a barely disguised fictional recounting of his summer of drinking and attending bullfights in Spain with friends, was published.
In 1927 Hemingway divorced his wife and married Pauline Pfeiffer. A year later the couple moved to Key West, Florida, and Hemingway discovered deep sea fishing. During this marriage, he went on his first African safari and found big game hunting to his liking. He returned to Spain to report on the civil war, and based his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls on his war experiences.
In 1940 he divorced his second wife and married Martha Gellhorn. The two had been living in Cuba, and now Hemingway bought the Finca Vigia estate. Hemingway returned to Europe as a war correspondent during World War II. Here he met Mary Welsh, who became his fourth wife after his divorce from Gellhorn.
Hemingway’s charismatic personality (which later was diagnosed as manic-depressive), his sporting exploits, his extensive travel, his womanizing, and his persistent drinking made him a celebrity. He was more a news item than his books, although they were bought steadily by an admiring public. Most of his books were based on his own experiences, so critics saw his books as holding keys to the writer’s own character.
In 1952 Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Two years later, while on safari in Africa, he survived two plane crashes, but with serious injuries that plagued him the rest of his life. Also in 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to literature. He wondered if the plane crashes and the premature obituaries published in newspapers around the world swayed the committee to award him the Swedish prize.
During the turmoil of the civil war in Cuba, Hemingway left the island and settled in Ketchum, Idaho, where he had vacationed and hunted small game. After treatment at the Mayo Clinic for major depression, he returned to his Idaho home and shot himself on July 2, 1961.
None of Hemingway’s work was written specifically for young adults, but since many of his stories and novels are regarded as classics, they are taught in schools and have wide appeal to various ages.