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Hemingway’s Life In 5 Minutes

I’m convinced Ernest Hemingway was the inspiration behind the “World’s Most Interesting Man” Dos Equis advertisements.

That actor even looks like Hemingway in his later years. And, honestly, doesn’t one of the ads feature bullfighting? Come on! That’s Hemingway!

Regardless of whether or not he inspired the Dos Equis ads, Hemingway was extremely interesting. Just read about him for 5 minutes and you can figure that out.

That’s what I did. And to save you the trouble of googling and all that nonsense, I put together a timeline of highlights of many of the things Hemingway did in his life—things that me and you haven’t done and probably will never do.

Read this. It’s longer than my usual post, but I promise it will be worth your time. This is amazing.

1899: Hemingway is born on July 21 in Oak Park, Illinois, just before the turn of the 20th Century, to Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall-Hemingway, a musician.

1903-1907: Before he was of elementary school age, Hemingway had learned to play the cello, hunt, fish, and set up camp in the woods.

1913-1917: Hemingway boxed, ran track and field, played water polo and football.

1916: Hemingway’s first piece is published in The Trapeze, his school newspaper. He wrote about a local performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

1917: Straight out of high school, Hemingway begins writing as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. He works there for six months.

1918: Hemingway signs up for World War 1. He became an ambulance driver in Italy for two months before his legs were severely injured by shrapnel.

1925: Hemingway meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, not long after the publication of The Great Gatsby. They become friends. He decides his next book will be a novel.

1928: Months after Hemingway’s first son, Patrick, was born, Hemingway’s dad commits suicide.

1929: While living in Spain, Hemingway researches bullfighting in preparation for writing Death In The Afternoon.

Early 1930s: Papa spends time in both Key West and Wyoming, where he hunts deer, elk…and GRIZZLY BEAR.

1930: Hemingway breaks his arm in a car accident. The surgeon binds the broken bones together with a kangaroo tendon. No kidding. For the second half of his life, Ernest Hemingway had a kangaroo tendon in his arm.

1933: Hemingway goes on a 10-week safari to East Africa, with his wife Pauline. While there, he contracts amoebic dysentery and is evacuated by plane to Nairobi.

1934: Papa buys a boat, names it The Pilar, and proceeds to sail around the Caribbean…because, why not?

1937: He begins reporting on the Spanish Civil War. He was present during the Battle of Ebro and was one of the last journalists to leave the battle.

1939: Hemingway sails to Cuba and begins living in Havana. Divorces his second wife, Pauline.

1940: Ernest moves his primary residence to Ketchum, Idaho, with a summer home still in Havana.

1940: He becomes obsessed with cats, and keeps dozens of them on his property in Cuba. That’s a little disappointing.

1942: He patrols the Caribbean during World War 2 in his personal boat, The Pilar, looking for German U boats. He would report his findings to the U.S. military. Here’s a guy who used his personal watercraft to spy on the German military.

1944: Hemingway accompanied American troops during the D-Day landings, though as a reporter he wasn’t allowed to leave the boats.

1944: He gets in trouble with the Geneva Convention for taking on the role of infantry captain for a group of village militia outside of Paris. He was brought up on charges but never disciplined.

1944: He’s present at the liberation of Paris.

1947: Hemingway is given a bronze star for his journalistic efforts during World War 2.

1947: He begins falling into depression and drinking heavily after several of his writing friends die—including Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and his editor Max Perkins.

1948: While vacationing in Venice, Hemingway falls in love with a 19-year-old girl, which serves a source material for Across the River and Into The Trees.

1951: Hemingway writes The Old Man and the Sea over a period of eight weeks. He said it was “the best I can write ever for all my life.”

1952: Thanks to The Old Man and the Sea, Papa becomes a worldwide celebrity and wins the Pulitzer Prize.

1954: While in Africa, Hemingway was nearly fatally injured in two separate plane crashes over the course of two days. A day after the first crash in which he suffered a serious concussion, Hemingway (along with his wife, who had two broke ribs) were loaded on a plane to receive medical care. That plane exploded on take-off, giving Hemingway burns and a second concussion that actually brought on leaking cerebral fluid. False reports spread that Hemingway had died, but a few weeks later he talked with reporters and read his own obituaries.

1954: Months after the plane crashes, Papa went on a fishing expedition with his son when a bushfire broke out. He got second-degree burns on his legs, lips, left hand and forearm, and torso.

1954: Hemingway receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. Because of his injuries from the plane accidents, he didn’t travel to Stockholm to receive the award but sent a speech to be read.

1959: He takes up permanent residence in Idaho, leaving Cuba for the final time in 1960.

1959: He visits Spain to research a series of articles on bullfighting for Life Magazine. The pieces eventually become the manuscript for The Dangerous Summer.

1960: Hemingway’s health worsens. His depression grows. His eyesight is bad. He’s disorganized and paranoid, according to his friend A.E. Hotchner.

1960: He travels to New York to his wife’s apartment. He rarely left because he thought he was being watched.

1961: Hemingway believes the FBI is following him. His wife sends him to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to be treated for hypertension. According to biographer Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway was treated around 15 times with electroconvulsive therapy and put on a combination of depression medications.

1961: April. His wife finds him in the kitchen holding a shotgun. She calls his doctor, who sedates him and sends him back to the Mayo Clinic for more electro treatments.

1961: July. Two days after returning from the Mayo Clinic, (all this according to biographer Bernice Kert, cited on Wikipedia) “he unlocked the basement storeroom where his guns were kept, went upstairs to the front entrance foyer of their Ketchum home, and ‘pushed two shells into the twelve-gauge Boss shotgun …put the end of the barrel into his mouth, pulled the trigger and blew out his brains. Mary called the Sun Valley Hospital, and Dr. Scott Earle arrived at the house within fifteen minutes.’ Despite his finding that Hemingway ‘had died of a self-inflicted wound to the head,’ the story told to the press was that the death had been ‘accidental.'”

Five years after his death, Mary Hemingway admitted that he had committed suicide.

Such a sad ending to an unbelievable life. How many serious injuries and illnesses can one man live through?

And did you catch the two entries for 1954? If you skipped those, go back and read them. The man was in two plane crashes in two days! That’s insane!

Now that you’ve hopefully read everything, maybe you’ll agree with me that Papa totally inspired “the most interesting man” commercials.

This guy was unbelievable. I hate that his life ended the way it did. But even with all his problems, he was such an inspiration.

Rest In Peace, Ernest Hemingway.

All sources from here

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Much like Theodore Roosevelt, Hemingway’s life of action is one I greatly admire. Vive la Vigorous Life!

    Like

    April 9, 2013
    • I wonder if he ever killed a grizzly?

      Like

      April 9, 2013
      • Several. Elephants too. Dude lived in the Dakotas and tramped all over Colorado in the late 1800s. A true hardman.

        Like

        April 10, 2013
  2. Thank you. Hemingway is an inspiration and your beer commercial spin is a fun way to ground your argument.

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  3. I’ve always heard of Hemingway’s death by gun suicide. Never heard he had suffered through the loss of many fellow writers or authors. Must have been a very sad time.

    Like

    April 9, 2013
    • That, plus just genetic mental illness I think contributed to his demise.

      Like

      April 9, 2013
  4. Although I can appreciate his life as a conservationist and adventurer, I feel for him as he was so tortured by mental illness. Electro convulsive therapy at that time was awful and now thankfully is humane as the patient is completely sedated. He lived in fear I am sure of being sent back. Perhaps he was always trying to escape his demons through his acts of daring?

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  5. What a fascinating article and what a life Hemmingway had and so sad that it ended in the way it did.

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  6. Robert, If you had to pick one book of his to read, which one would it be?

    Like

    April 9, 2013
    • Maybe some others can chime in here. I haven’t read A Farewell To Arms, but I remember enjoying For Whom The Bell Tolls and Death In The Afternoon. The Sun Also Rises is good, and Old Man and The Sea is a nice introduction, plus it’s short. I’ve always appreciated Hemingway more for his style than his storytelling, so keep that in mind.

      Like

      April 9, 2013
  7. Paula Grant-LeClaire #

    #40 — He found a 6-toed cat and brought it home. His estate has bunches of “Hemingway Cats” and they all have 6 toes … a rare thing …

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  8. I guess I never fell for the Hemingway Mystique. All the wives, all the need to prove himself.

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  9. I’m still struggling to appreciate the man’s writing, but I think I’ve found the perfect autobiographical speech from the second chapter of The Sun Also Rises:

    “Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”

    “But you’ve never been to South America.”

    “South America hell! If you went the way you feel now it would be exactly the same. This is a good town. Why don’t you start living your life in Paris?”

    After reading your post, I think it was the head injuries that triggered the real decline. He may not have fallen into the abyss, otherwise. Although it may have happened eventually since he did not appear to be a man who tolerated infirmity with grace. If he couldn’t be “a manly man”, he would rather be dead. But this is solely my interpretation of his life.

    Like

    April 9, 2013
    • Great passage. Wherever you go, that’s where you are.

      Like

      April 9, 2013
  10. As a female reader I have always been attracted to Hemingway’s writing. I remember my 11th grade English teacher having a huge photo of him in the center of a bulletin board. Whenever she was asked about it, she simply would murmur, “Ernest…”, and grin. I have read “A Farewell to Arms”, and am currently in “A Moveable Feast”. It is the way he phrases things…they just hit me and I have to stop and read again. I love writing that does that!

    Like

    April 9, 2013
  11. I visited his home in Key West and one can feel the energy he left there. I remember my emotions when I saw his typewriter. What great literature was created with that simple machine. I have always loved his work. I just saw a show with his grand daughter where she speaks about mental illness and she has been able to shift her life from one of depression to one of joy.

    Like

    April 10, 2013
  12. I visited Hemingway’s grave in Ketchum in August 2010. There are pennies littering the gravestone! After visiting that particular part of Idaho, I understand why he loved it. My husband and I loved it, too.

    Like

    April 10, 2013
    • Jen #

      How did my name appear as “Jenen”?!

      Like

      April 10, 2013
    • Would love to go there. Ketchum, right?

      Like

      April 11, 2013
      • Jen #

        Yes, Ketchum, ID. It’s the Sun Valley ski resort area. It is beautiful–truly God’s country. It’s slightly difficult to access given the high air travel ticket prices to Sun Valley, but it’s doable from Boise or Salt Lake City.

        Like

        April 11, 2013
  13. Reblogged this on Chasing Pavements.

    Like

    April 14, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. “He was the Lady Gaga of his era.” | 101 Books
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