Ernest Hemingway was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Clarence E. Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall-Hemingway, a musician and voice teacher. He had four sisters and a brother. Every summer, the family summered at the family cottage, named Windemere, on Walloon Lake near Petoskey, Michigan.
After Ernest graduated from high school in June 1917, he joined the Missouri Home Guard. Before it was called to active duty, he served as a volunteer ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. On July 8, 1918 Hemingway was wounded by an Austrian trench mortar. He spent the subsequent summer and fall recovering from his leg wounds in the Milan Red Cross hospital. In Europe, Hemingway met nurse Agnes Von Kurowsky. He thought they were engaged when he returned to the U.S. on January 21, 1919, but she broke off whatever relationship they had had in March 1919.
In January 1920, the city editor of the Toronto Star agreed to buy Hemingway’s stories on a piece by piece basis as they suited the paper. The paper regularly printed his features on dental schools, prizefights, free shaves, trout fishing, rum-running and, later, on Chicago gangsters. He returned to Chicago in May 1920.
In September 1921, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson at Horton Bay, Michigan. They had planned to live in Italy, but were advised by Sherwood Anderson that a would-be-writer should live in Paris. In January 1922, the couple moved into an apartment in Paris’ Latin Quarter.
The Hemingways later returned to Toronto, where Ernest found that the new editor of the Star did not like him. His first assignment upon his return was to cover a prison escape. He used one prisoner as the basis for his male, loner, anti-social characters, which later appeared in a number of his stories.
Hemingway’s first son, John Hadley Nicanor, was born in Toronto in October 1923.
Furious with his editor, Hemingway returned to Paris in January 1924, living near Ezra Pound. His mentors and friends in Paris included Pound, Sylvia Beach, and Gertrude Stein. Through these three writers, he got to know every expatriate American writer and new artists in Paris. Hemingway developed an appreciation for the insider, the man who knew the language, food and customs of foreign countries.
Between 1924 and 1929, Hemingway rose from obscurity to being one of the best-known American writers of his generation. His publications in those years included In our time (1925), his breakthrough novel, (The) Sun also rises (1926), Men without women (1927), and (A) Farewell to arms (1929). He spent his summers in Spain following bullfights and his winters skiing in Switzerland, with Paris as his base.
Hadley divorced Ernest in April 1927. She received lifelong rights to the income from (The) Sun also rises. Hemingway then married Pauline Pfeiffer, with whom he had had an affair for over a year, in May 1927.
Ernest and Pauline returned to the U.S. for the cesarean birth of their son, Patrick, who was born in 1928. Also in 1928, Ernest’s father, Clarence Hemingway, committed suicide.
Pauline and Ernest enjoyed Key West fishing and Wyoming dude ranches. After a year of living in and out of Paris, they moved back to Key West in 1930.
In 1930, the sale of the film rights to (A) Farewell to arms brought Hemingway $24,000. Besides that, they lived on Pauline’s trust fund and Ernest’s income from writing. Her wealthy uncle, Augustus Pfeiffer, paid for their home in Key West and their African safari. Pauline and Ernest’s second son, Gregory, was born in 1931. Hemingway also was paid for his book, Death in the afternoon (1932).
During the 1930s, Hemingway wrote Winner takes nothing (1933), Green hills of Africa (1935), several short stories, and a series of personal essays called “Letters” for Esquire magazine. In September 1937 he reported on the Spanish Civil War in Madrid. In October 1937, Hemingway was featured on the cover of Time magazine and wrote To have and have not. Hemingway also wrote a narrative to the film (The) Spanish earth and wrote his only play, (The) Fifth column (1938).
By February 1939, his marriage to Pauline was essentially over. He had an affair with Martha Gellhorn since 1937. Hemingway moved to Havana and began For whom the bell tolls. On December 24, 1939, Ernest and Martha moved to La Finca Vigia, a house with property outside of Havana. There, he finished For whom the bell tolls, which was released to ecstatic reviews on October 21, 1940. Four days later Paramount Pictures offered Hemingway $100,000 for the film rights. In early November 1940, Pauline’s divorce suit against Ernest on the grounds of desertion was granted. He married Martha Gellhorn a few weeks later.
During World War II, Hemingway suffered with the beginning of severe depression and had a long block in his writing ability. Except for writing an introduction of Men at war (1942) he wrote nothing until 1944. In April 1944 he began work as a war correspondent for Collier’s, displacing Martha. By late May 1944 Hemingway’s marriage to Martha was basically over and he met Mary Welsh Monks, soon to be his fourth wife.
Between June and December 1944, Hemingway deliberately put himself in dangerous positions. He went aboard a landing craft on D-Day, June 6. He twice flew on Royal Air Force missions intercepting German rockets and led a group of French irregulars and unattached GIs towards the liberation of Paris and the Ritz Bar. Two of his essays were published in Collier’s.
In 1945 Hemingway returned to New York and Cuba. Mary joined him in May. In September he sued Martha for divorce on the grounds of desertion. In November the sale of two of his stories for movie rights brought him $112,000.
Hemingway married Mary Welsh Monks in Havana in March 1946. In 1947, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. From that time forward, Hemingway fought hypertension, diabetes, depression, paranoia, and perhaps hemochromatosis. He also began work on a trilogy, Islands, Garden of Eden, and (A) Moveable feast.
From September 1948 through April 1949, the Hemingways lived in northern Italy. There, he became infatuated with an eighteen-year-old beauty, Adriana Ivancich. Mary tolerated it. In late April the Hemingways returned to Cuba. He wrote Across the river and into the trees (1950), about a dying American colonel and a teenage Venetian beauty. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews. By late 1950 Ivancich and her mother were visiting Finca. Mary wanted out of the marriage, but stayed in it.
In 1951 Hemingway complete the first draft of (The) Old man and the sea and the Islands manuscript.
Grace Hall-Hemingway died in June 1951 and Pauline Hemingway in October 1951. The combination of these deaths was difficult for Hemingway to handle.
Life paid him $40,000 for serial rights and sold five million copies of its September 1, 1952 issue containing (The) Old man and the sea. Scribners sold out 40,000 first run copies of the novella. In April 1953, a film crew arrived in Havana to film the epic. In May, Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for the book.
In June, Ernest and Mary left Havana for Europe and Africa. After surviving a nearly fatal plane crash, the Hemingways recuperated in Venice. In June 1954, they returned to Havana. In October, Hemingway learned that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but due to ill health, he could not travel to Stockholm.
From 1955 to 1961 Hemingway suffered increasing bad health, and paranoia-ridden depression. He wrote steadily on his trilogy. In January 1959, the Batista government fell to the Castro revolution. The Hemingways, on vacation in the U.S., bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, from which he could watch the revolution on television.
In 1959, Ernest returned to Spain to cover the bullfights. His mood shifts frightened his wife and bewildered his friends. His health worsened. In November 1960 Hemingway entered Mayo Clinic to be treated for hypertension, an enlarged liver, paranoia, and severe depression. He received shock treatments. By late April 1961 Hemingway had twice attempted suicide.
On July 2, 1961 he blew his head off. Hemingway was survived by his wife, two of his ex-wives, and his three sons. (This information is from American National Biography Online).