Ernest Miller Hemingway, recognized as one of the major writers in American literature, is well known for his minimalist style of writing and for his portrayals of stoic manly protagonists such as Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway's mother was a music teacher. His physician father and his namesake grandfather, Ernest Hall, a Civil War veteran, influenced him deeply, especially in developing interests in outdoor activities such as shooting and fishing. Both men are characterized in For Whom the Bell Tolls. The protagonist Robert Jordan feels ashamed of his father who committed suicide as Hemingway's own father did, and enormously proud of his Civil War veteran grandfather.
Hardly surprising, in school Hemingway excelled in English but also went out for boxing and football. Foregoing a college education, he began writing as a reporter for the Kansas City Star in 1916 and later utilized his journalistic skills-short sentences, positive active words-to develop his writing style. After six months, he joined the Army and served in World War I in the Ambulance Corps in Italy where he experienced first hand the brutalities of war. In 1918, he was wounded and while convalescing fell in love with American nurse Agnes von Kurowsky, an event that inspired his novel, A Farewell To Arms.
In 1920, he went to work for the Toronto Star and married Hadley Richardson the following year. During the 1920s he lived as an expatriate in Paris, as part of what his mentor Gertrude Stein termed the Lost Generation. He published his first book Three Stories and Ten Poems in 1923, the year of his son John's birth. Hemingway had two other sons with Hadley-Patrick and Gregory.
Our Time, which was published in 1925, highlighted Hemingway's minimalist style and was followed the next year by the semi-autobiographical The Sun Also Rises. The marriage to Hadley ended and Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer in 1927, at which point he moved to Key West, Florida, and spent many happy days fishing. During this time, he also traveled in Spain, which he used as the setting for many of his works, including For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). In Spain, Hemingway reported on the Spanish Civil War and favored the Republican cause. In fact, the author may have acted as an informant for the Republic. After Franco's Fascists won the Spanish Civil War in 1939, Hemingway felt forlorn. In 1940, he suffered the loss of his beloved Key West home in a divorce and married Martha Gellhorn, with whom he traveled in Spain.
During World War II, Hemingway took part in naval warfare and was charged with sinking German submarines off Cuba. He also went to Europe as a war correspondent and took part in the allied invasion in 1944. In 1952, he married war correspondent Mary Welsh after divorcing his third wife. He also published in that year The Old Man and the Sea, which earned him both the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
Late in life, Hemingway suffered from severe ill health and depression which was aggravated by alcoholism. Having lost his home in Cuba and living in Idaho, he underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression. He committed suicide by using a shotgun in 1961. Today, Many of Hemingway's works, including For Whom the Bells Toll remain classics in American literature.