Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Clarence Edmonds and Grace Hemingway. Hemingway first published his writing while he was a student at Oak Park High School, 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 front-line in Italy; in July 1918, two weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday, he was severely wounded in battle.
After recovering from his wounds, he supported himself as a journalist until he was able to make a living writing fiction. In the early 1920s, he lived in Paris 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. This string of successes established Hemingway as one of the most famous and influential novelists in history, widely recognized 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, divorcing her and marrying Mary Welsh in 1945. His macho public persona-he was known as a hunter, aficionado of bullfighting, drinker, and womanizer-made him a celebrity. Constant media attention tended to de-emphasize Hemingway’s actual writing, and many readers, caught up in the superficial and glamorous aspects of his life and career, missed the fact that his fiction is firmly anchored in timeless, fundamental values such as courage, honor, truthfulness, and compassion. The Hemingway code has often been summed up by his phrase “grace under pressure,” yet many observers fail to see that this “grace” is not only physical and aesthetic, but moral and spiritual. 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, some of his works have crossed over, appealing widely to adults and young adults alike. Hemingway received numerous awards for his writing, including the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, and the Nobel Prize in 1954. In January 1954, he was in two plane crashes in Africa and suffered severe injuries from which he never recovered. On July 2, 1961, Hemingway committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.