As one of America’s greatest writers, Ernest Hemmingway recounted his personal life experiences to create his novels. Hemmingway lead an interesting life, filled with romance, travel, and adventure. It was this lifestyle that provided him with much of the material that he used to write his greatest novels. Writing was more of a story telling exercise for Hemmingway, because he had firsthand experience at most of what he wrote about. Hemmingway was also influenced by many of the people he met throughout his life, including women, authors, and news journalists.
Hemmingway was born in his family’s home in Oak Park, Illinois on July 18, 1899. It was here that he was raised with the conservative Midwestern values of strong religion, hard work, and self-determination. His father taught him to fish and hunt along the shores and in the forest around Lake Michigan. His love of the outdoors was cultivated here, and would influence his writing later in life. Hemmingway’s mother was very creative, with a special talent for singing. Although Ernest never took to music, he inherited his mother’s creativity.
Online ref #1) The first writing influence in Hemmingway’s life came from his first job, as a reporter at the Kansas City Star newspaper. The Star’s style and usage book advocated using short sentences, active verbs, authenticity, clarity, smoothness, and writing in a positive tone. This left an impression on Hemmingway that can be seen in all of his writing. He called them “the best rules I ever learned in the business of writing” and, based upon his work, never forgot them. (Online ref. )
While working at The Star, Hemmingway made the next major decision in his life, joining the Red Cross to help in the war effort in Europe. (Online Ref #3) Experiencing war first hand made a huge impact on Hemmingway. His role as an ambulance driver exposed him to the harsh realities of war shortly after arriving in Europe. He loved the adventure and drama that war provided, and wanted to be part of the action. Hemmingway was wounded shortly after transferring to a position that brought him closer to the front lines.
Online Ref #4) The experiences of war inspired one of Hemmingway’s great novels, “A Farewell to Arms,” and the frustration of war inspired another, called “A Soldier’s Home. ” After returning home to Oak Park in 1919, Hemmingway meet his first of four wives, Hadley Richardson, who he married in September 1921. He took a job with the Toronto Daily Star, as it’s European correspondent, and returned to Europe near the end of 1921. While living in Paris, Hemmingway was in the midst of a changing literary world, where he was soon to leave his mark.
He made social and business relationships with the likes of Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Sylvia Beach. During this time Hemmingway became an editor for the literary magazine, Transatlantic Review, which published some of his early stories. (Online ref # 1) In 1927 Hemmingway divorced his first wife and married Pauline Pfeiffer. They returned to the United States and took up residence in Key West Florida. His next twelve years were spent in the Key West are, sailing, fishing, and writing.
During this period of his life, Hemmingway went on a three-month safari to Africa. The trip to Africa became the inspiration for one of his best novels, “Green Hill of Africa,” and two of his most memorable short stories, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. ” While living in Key West, Hemmingway completed many of the works he had started in Europe and gathered material for several of his future works, including, For “Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Old Man and the Sea.
Over the next twenty one years of his life, Hemmingway would go on to write several more best selling novels. He would cover two more wars, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII. Hemmingway returned to Paris as it was liberated from the Germans in August of 1944. He then traveled to northern France and joined a friend, General Buck Lanham, along with the 22nd Infantry Regiment. He spent a month with this group of soldiers as they pushed towards Germany.
Hemmingway recorded the events and later turned this into another literary work titled “Across the River and into the Trees. ” (Online ref # 1) Hemmingway wrote so many great books that evolved from his personal experiences in his own life, the adventures that he took, and the wars that he participated in and covered as a journalist. It is hard to imagine that one man could experience and absorb so much in just one lifetime. It is clear to see that the greatest influence on Ernest Hemmingway’s writing was Ernest Hemmingway, his life, and the way in which he choose to live it.