Ernest Hemingway Hemingway, Ernest (Literary Masters) - Essay


(Literary Masters)

Ernest Hemingway

See also Volumes 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, and 30.

Ernest Hemingway is a giant of modern literature. Among twentieth-century American fiction writers, his work is most often compared to that of his contemporaries William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Combined with his outstanding short stories, Hemingway’s four major novels—The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and The Old Man and the Sea (1952)—comprise a contribution to modern fiction that is far more substantial than Fitzgerald’s and that approximates Faulkner’s.

Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature a few years before Hemingway received this recognition, but their respective approaches to fiction are so dissimilar that this belated receipt says little or nothing about Hemingway’s stature relative to that of Faulkner. When set alongside Faulkner’s Mississippi novels, Hemingway’s major works feature simpler structures and narrative voices/personae.

As or more important, Hemingway’s style, with its consistent use of short, concrete, direct prose and of scenes consisting exclusively of dialogue, gives his novels and short stories a distinctive accessibility that is immediately identifiable with the author. Owing to the direct character of both his style and his life-style, there is a tendency to cast Hemingway as a “representative” American writer whose work reflects the bold, forthright and rugged individualism of the American spirit in action.

His own background as a wounded veteran of World War I, as an engaged combatant in the fight against Fascism/Nazism, and as a “he-man” with a passion for outdoor adventures and other manly pursuits reinforce this association.

But this identification of Hemingway as a uniquely American genius is problematic. Although three of his major novels are told by and/or through American men, Hemingway’s protagonists are expatriates, and his fictional settings are in France, Italy, Spain, and later Cuba, rather than America itself.

While Hemingway’s early career benefited from his connections with Fitzgerald and (more so) with American novelist Sherwood Anderson, his aesthetic is actually closer to that shared by the transplanted American poets that he met in Paris during the 1920s; T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and, most crucially, Gertrude Stein. In this context, we must realize that Hemingway’s approach to the craft of fiction is direct but never blunt or just plain simple.

Hemingway’s text is the result of a painstaking selection process, each word performing an assigned function in the narrative. These choices of language, in turn, occur through the mind and experience of his novels’ central characters whether they serve explicitly as narrators of their experience or as focal characters from whose perspectives the story unfolds. The main working corollary of Hemingway’s “iceberg principle” is that the full meaning of the text is not limited to moving the plot forward: there is always a web of association and inference, a submerged reason behind the inclusion (or even the omission) of every detail.

We note, too, that although Hemingway’s novels usually follow a straightforward chronological progression as in the three days of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway does make use of summary accounts of the past, of memories related externally as stories, and of flashbacks. These devices lend further depth to his characters and create narrative structures that are not completely straightforward chronicles.

Hemingway is direct. But he is also quite subtle, and subtlety is not a trait that we ascribe to the American way. In the end, Hemingway is an international artist, a man who never relinquished his American identity but who entered new territories too broad and too deep to fit within the domain of any national culture.


(Literary Masters)

Born: 21 July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois

Died: 2 July 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho

Married: Hadley Richardson, 3 September 1921 (divorced 14 April 1927); married Pauline Pfeiffer, 10 May 1927 (divorced 4 November 1940); married Martha Gellhorn, 21 November 1940 (divorced 21 December 1945); married Mary Welsh, 14 March 1946.

Education: Oak Park and River Forest High School

Ernest Hemingway was born on 21 July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, an early and affluent suburb of Chicago. His father, Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, who graduated from Oberlin College and Rush Medical College, was a respected professional whose specialty became obstetrics. Dr. Hemingway was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, fisherman, and naturalist. In Oak Park he founded a local Agassiz Club, introducing boys to natural history. Hemingway's mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, was a well-trained contralto who had at least two New York City performances before marrying Dr. Hemingway. In Oak Park, she enjoyed a lengthy career as a voice and music teacher, choir director, and, later in life, as a largely self-taught painter. Young Hemingway grew up with an older sister, Marcelline, and three younger sisters, Ursula, Madelaine, and Carol. He had one younger brother, Leicester. Both of his grandfathers served in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Civil War, and young Ernest heard war stories at the knee of Grandfather Anson Hemingway, a real-estate developer. While Ernest was growing up, he saw horses disappear from the village streets to be replaced by automobiles. His was the first generation to grow up with consumer technology that was both liberating and alienating, creating an enormous gap between nineteenth-century parents and twentieth-century children.

In the Oak Park of his youth, Hemingway was theoretically protected by city ordinances from uncensored movies, boxing matches, any information on venereal disease or birth control, al forms of gambling and prostitution, and all consumption of alcohol. Should there have been an illegitimate birth within the village, neither parent's name could appear on the birth certificate without his or her consent. Until he turned eighteen, Hemingway could not legally buy cigarettes, play billiards, or drive a car within the village limits. Unless accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, young Hemingway, governed by the village curfew, could not be out of the house after 8:00 P.M. in the fall and winter, or after 9:00 P.M. in the spring and summer.1 On a sweltering July day, an Oak Parker could not buy a beer within the village limits. But uncensored movies and cold beer were only a nickel trolley ride away. Or if a boy could not spare the nickel, he could walk across the avenue into Cicero, where all manner of forbidden activity was possible. But not in Oak Park. Not yet. At least not in public.

By the time Hemingway was in grade school, Oak Park, established as a haven from which to escape the threat of Chicago fires and Chicago vice, was no longer isolated from big-city temptations. Five different trolley lines connected husbands to their downtown jobs, wives to Marshall Field's department store and the Chicago Art Institute, and teenage boys to whatever teenage boys found most alluring. The cows that once grazed in the vacant Oak Park lots had mostly disappeared along with the lots, which were now filling up with houses. The Censorship Committee worked overtime to keep the youth of Oak Park innocent, but of course it was an impossible task. Their stringent movie code kept the most pernicious Hollywood influence just outside the village limits, but those boundaries were becoming less and less effective.

No matter how conservative their politics might be, Oak Parkers were always progressive. Their streets were paved and lighted when parts of Chicago were still muddy; their water system was the most sanitary possible; the hospital, the library, and the high school were al of premier quality. At Oak Park and River Forest High School, Hemingway took the then-standard pre-college curriculum: six semesters of science, four of math, six of Latin, eight of English literature and composition, four of history, two of applied music, and two years of orchestra. In Latin, young Hemingway translated his Cicero; in history he wrote essays on Greek tyrants and the Marathon campaign, and outlined the Punic Wars. His yearlong courses in American and ancient history were not grounded in watered-down student texts: Hemingway's generation read and were tested on the standard histories of their day. In English courses, all of which required weekly writing and the study of composition, young Hemingway read the classic myths, Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Alexander Pope, the British Romantics, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Matthew Arnold. He spent ten weeks studying the history of the English language, four weeks on formal rhetoric, and an entire semester of his senior year on prose composition.2 Along with his classmates, Hemingway memorized the opening lines of Chaucer's "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales and the then-standard ration of Shakespeare's soliloquies.3 Whatever the course, humanities or science, there were always written assignments: weekly book reports, essays, and term papers. Hemingway outlined his reading of Macbeth and Hamlet and wrote reports on the anatomy of grasshoppers, the necessity of life insurance, the need for a standing army, and the causes of the American Revolution.4

In 1918, with America now dedicated to helping England, France, and Italy defeat the German and Austro-Hungarian forces mounted against them in World War I, Hemingway tried to enlist in the army, but was rejected for poor eyesight. That spring, he volunteered to drive Red Cross ambulances on the Italian front, where, on 8 July 1918, he was seriously wounded. In 1919 he came back changed by his war experience to find the cultural bulwarks of Oak Park firmly in place—the First Congregational Church (now First United), the Scoville Institute (public library), the Oak Park and River Forest High School, and the Nineteenth Century Club. These were the shaping community forces, providing Hemingway's generation with a sense of identity and strong behavioral models. Between the turn of the century and the end of World War I, Oak Park worked hard at the moral and cultural education of its young. Above all, it taught its sons that, whatever the game, winning was important. The "Strenuous Life" advocated by Theodore Roosevelt was the village code and the high-school athlete's model. Wherever one listened in Oak Park—church, civic clubs, or the newspaper—he was told that physical, mental, and moral condition correlated: better body, better grades, better boy. Young Hemingway, who was never much of an athlete, became a lifelong, fierce competitor. Twice he ran the high-school cross-country race. Twice he finished last. But he finished. Whatever he did in life—fishing, hiking, hunting, writing, loving, learning—it was a competitive venture, a challenge match to be won or lost. Many of his fictional characters behave this way as well. The competitive trait runs deep in the American vein, a trait that Hemingway learned there in the heart of the country.

Along with the competitive spirit, Hemingway also learned early the necessity for hard work. Work was not something he always enjoyed. Indeed, he sometimes railed against it. But to be a man in America one was expected to work hard, always, and Hemingway held himself to that rigorous ethic for most of his life. When he was not working hard, he felt guilty; when he felt most guilty, he turned his pleasures into work. In 1933, in the heart of the Great Depression, when a quarter of the work force had no work, Hemingway spent $25,000 on his first African safari. (In today's dollars that would be at least $150,000.) Conspicuous consumption surely, but it was not only for his pleasure. He wrote several colorful Esquire articles during the course of the hunt, and afterward wrote Green Hills of Africa (1935). For most, that safari would have been only a vacation; Hemingway, steeped as he was in the work ethic, made it a working vacation. Later, he spent a good deal of time on the Gulf Stream fishing, but it was not merely for fun; he was relentlessly researching the marlin for a book of natural history he never got around to writing. Instead he created The Old Man and the Sea (1952).

One of the lessons Hemingway learned early and late was that money mattered in Oak Park and the world, an easy lesson to absorb, for it was not small change that cultivated those wide lawns or paid for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses. The Hemingway family, while respected, was never wealthy, but Ernest saw the spoils of wealth wherever he looked. If he left the village with an empty pocket in 1919, he never intended to remain in that condition. Other experimental writers were content to publish in small literary magazines that paid little if anything for their fiction. Hemingway began like that as he learned his trade, but his sights were always set much higher. With the exception of his journalism, Hemingway never wrote merely for money, but he always expected top dollar for what he wrote and never sold himself short. That too he learned in Oak Park.

With its insistence on winning and its disdain for anything less than the best, Oak Park put a good deal of pressure on its sons and daughters. That some, like Hemingway, seemed to rebel against those pressures is not surprising. That later readers have taken that rebellion as Hemingway's rejection of Oak Park is unfortunate, for nothing could be further from the truth. One cannot reject his cultural inheritance any more than he can reject his blood type. Ernest may have left Oak Park in 1919, but he carried a piece of the village with him always. After his Paris years in the 1920s, he bought and maintained Oak Parkish homes, first in Key West and then in Cuba—large, lawned homes with swimming pools, gardens and gardeners, cooks, and maids— homes that marked the presence of a personage.

Hemingway grew up with sisters, a live-in nursemaid, and a talented mother. Grace Hall Hemingway was a public performer who was usually the center of attention, whether she was conducting the church choir, instructing voice students, singing in her well-trained contralto voice, or, later, selling her paintings. She dominated the home in which Ernest grew up. Most boys rebel against their fathers; Hemingway had no choice but to rebel against his mother. She was a strong, talented woman, five of whose six children became artists in various fields: one a ceramicist, one a musician, one a playwright and public lecturer, and two writers. Some mothers lived for their children, basking in their deeds, but not Hemingway's mother. Never behaving like the mothers of his friends, she was always doing something different, dressing differently, or marching for the vote. Sometimes in Oak Park his performing mother was an embarrassment to him; sometimes her impossible way of professing joy in the least likely circumstances was enough to anger anyone. She was a big woman with a big voice who never doubted her own worth. In the summer of 1920, after a series of infuriating conflicts with her son, Grace Hemingway threw Ernest out of their summer cottage on Walloon Lake, Michigan, calling him a menace to youth and telling him to grow up.

While Ernest learned about counterpoint, melody, and tempo from his mother, it was his father, Clarence Hemingway, who took him to the woods where his deep passions were rooted. Ernest responded to all of his father's interests: hiking, hunting, fishing, and natural history. Every summer between 1900 and 1918, Hemingway spent at least two months at the Walloon Lake family cottage located close to Petoskey Michigan, on the lower peninsula. There Ernest found a freedom he seldom knew in Oak Park, freedom to roam the lake and woods, to fish for trout, and to observe the last of the Ojibway Indians living in the area. It was as close to a frontier experience as was possible in that era. Hemingway's earliest mature fiction, written in 1924 in Paris, would use the lake setting, and even later in life he would return to Walloon for the setting of his posthumously published stories "The Summer People" and "The Last Good Country." The Agassiz Club nature outings in the spring, summers on Walloon Lake, fall bird hunts, and winter visits to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago al were formative elements in young Hemingway's education, shaping his interests to the end of his life.

By the time Hemingway was twelve years old, his father grew more and more distant from the older son who worshiped him. As early as 1904, the doctor began suffering from spells that his family called "nervousness" and today is called depression. Periodically, Clarence Hemingway took rest cures, but his depression, paranoia, and emotional isolation grew gradually worse. Neither Ernest nor his siblings understood their father's erratic moods, which made him less and less accessible to them. In 1928, at the age of fifty-seven, suffering from depression, paranoia, angina, and diabetes, Clarence Hemingway lay down on his marriage bed and put a bullet through his head. Ernest, perhaps not wanting to admit to his father's physical and mental problems, blamed his mother, saying she drove his father to kill himself. But by the time he was sixty-one, Ernest was suffering from his father's syndrome, made worse by physical injuries and alcohol.

After he was eighteen Hemingway never lived again in the village of Oak Park, but many of his characters, beneath their hard exteriors, are not without Oak Park virtues. His men may drink and curse in a way calculated to offend women like his mother, but beneath that surface they are men who mourn the loss of values. In A Farewell to Arms (1929), words like nobility, loyalty, and honor may have become obscene to Frederic Henry but only the words, not the values themselves. They never lost their currency. Add love. Add courage. Add hard work and self-reliance. And above al else, ad duty. In Islands in the Stream (1970) Thomas Hudson, talking to himself, says, "Love you lose. Honor has been gone a long time. Duty you do." Most of Hemingway's major characters make their pilgrimage graveward accompanied by those good friends. They sustain Robert Jordan at the hour of his death in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Colonel Cantwell in Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) and Thomas Hudson, in their last good nights, never forget them. And where one finds them most lacking, in The Sun Also Rises (1926), life is stale, flat, and profitless.

It was the world that had changed, not Hemingway's values. Like many Oak Parkers, he, too, was filled with loathing for a world that no longer honored the old verities. The boy, who was weaned on the maxims and example of Theodore Roosevelt, grew up to find Teddy reduced to a caricature by the Jazz Age. Like so many modernist writers, Hemingway remembered al his life the lost world in which he grew up, the early world of Oak Park, its people and its culture. His characters, going down to loneliness or death in other countries, might have no home or family, but between and beneath the lines, many of them are good Oak Parkers, and their creator, for all his surface dissimilarities to the people of his hometown, was and remained a boy from the village.

Hemingway's storytelling frequently involves an experienced character passing along information, advice, or rules of behavior to a less experienced character: teacher and tyro. In and out of fiction, Hemingway was always teaching someone how to box, fish, hunt, or write; how to travel; how to get full return for money spent; where to stay and what to do there. In Oak Park, he was giving boxing lessons to his friends; at Walloon he taught young visitors how to catch trout. Early in Paris, he claimed that he was trading Ezra Pound boxing lessons for writing lessons. This instructional intensity runs throughout Hemingway's writing life. The Sun Also Rises may be the "hell of a sad story" that Ernest said it was, but it is also a marvelous guide to the Left Bank of Paris in the 1920s, and an equally accurate guide to the feria (festival) of San Fermin. Read The Sun Also Rises to learn which train to catch, where to get off, the view from the bus, and where to stay in Pamplona. By the end of the novel, Hemingway has provided an insider's knowledge about the food, the wine, the music, and the kinds of permissible behavior. The reader knows the daily routine of the feria, starting with the morning encierro (running of the bulls) and ending with the evening fireworks. He has learned about the corrida (bullfight), its three-part structure, and the artistry of a skilled matador.

As a natural historian, Hemingway not only described the fish, the bird, or the animal so clearly that it was real, but he also gave clinical details on its behavior and its capture. To catch river trout using grasshoppers on a fly line, read "Big Two-Hearted River," where Hemingway teaches not only how to bait the hook but how to make camp in the good place. Before going marlin fishing, read Hemingway's several essays on the subject to learn every step from fixing the baits to boating the fish. It was not enough for Hemingway to write an interesting story. He wanted the reader to be instructed as well as involved in the narrative. Turn to the appendices of Death in the Afternoon (1932) for an eighty-three-page glossary "of certain words, terms and phrases used in bullfighting." Read further in any of his books or essays to discover his interests in military tactics, politics, literary history, landscape painting, and topography, interests that give his characters and narrators a professional edge that makes their story convincing.

One does not have to read far in Hemingway to find the high physical and emotional costs of bodily wounds. He learned the lesson early, late, and frequently during his tumultuous life. On the night of 8 July 1918, he was wounded by an Austrian trench-mortar shell while standing in an Italian forward observation post at Fossalta on the Piave River. The two Italians standing next to him both died. Hemingway woke up to a ruined right knee, a first-class concussion, and legs-full of small shrapnel; a machine-gun bullet hit his foot while he was being carried back to the aid station. In the fall of 1930, while on a Wyoming bear hunt, the right side of Hemingway's face was laid open when his horse bolted through the woods. A night trip to a veterinarian got the cut closed with stitches, leaving an interesting scar. Two months later, outside of Billings, Montana, the car that Ernest was driving turned over in a ditch, leaving him with a compound spiral fracture of his writing arm between elbow and shoulder. It was five months before the nerves in his right hand began to work again. While on safari in 1933-1934, he contracted a severe case of amebic dysentery, requiring emergency treatment. During a London blackout in 1944, he was in an auto accident that badly gashed his scalp and gave him another serious concussion, which was renewed two months later in France when his jeep was overturned by German tank fire. Ten years later, Hemingway survived two African plane crashes while suffering numerous internal and external injuries, including another serious concussion.

Given these traumatic experiences and remembering that he was a doctor's son, it is not surprising to find wounded men proliferating in Hemingway's fiction. The Indian father in "Indian Camp" lies in his upper bunk, his leg wounded by his axe. In the vignettes published as in our time (1924), Nick Adams lies wounded against the wall. In later stories Nick is shell-shocked ("A Way You'll Never Be") and unable to sleep ("Now I Lay Me"). Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms is blown up much as Hemingway was during World War I. In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes has suffered a sexually maiming wound while flying on the Italian front. Wherever one looks, the wounded pile up:...

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Chronology Of Events In Ernest Hemingway’s Life

(Literary Masters)

In the last year of the nineteenth century, Ernest Hemingway was born in the afterglow of the Spanish-American War. Nothing about his birth or his parentage was particularly significant. Sixty-one years and eleven months later, when he died by his own hand, it was headline news in almost every major newspaper in the world. He had become an American icon, a face so familiar that it needed no identifying caption. In the last year of the twentieth century, the centennial of his birth, the world once more paid homage to this American writer who changed the way Americans wrote about themselves.

As one of his sons has said, Hemingway lived on a fast clock. He burned with an intensity that made emotional...

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About Ernest Hemingway

(Literary Masters)

Born: 21 July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois

Died: 2 July 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho

Married: Hadley Richardson, 3 September 1921 (divorced 14 April 1927);
married Pauline Pfeiffer, 10 May 1927 (divorced 4 November 1940);
married Martha Gellhorn, 21 November 1940 (divorced 21 December 1945); married Mary Welsh, 14 March 1946.

Education: Oak Park and River Forest High School

Ernest Hemingway was born on 21 July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, an early and affluent suburb of Chicago. His father, Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, who graduated from Oberlin College and Rush Medical College, was a respected professional whose...

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Hemingway at Work

(Literary Masters)


In January of 1919, when Ernest Hemingway returned to Oak Park, Illinois, from the Great War, he knew he was going to be a writer, but his sights were set no higher than the fiction in popular magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Red Book. He had not yet read Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, or Ivan Turgenev. He had not heard of James...

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Hemingway’s Eras

(Literary Masters)

After 1921 Ernest Hemingway never lived in an American urban center, never worked nine-to-five for an American employer, never, as far as is known, voted in an election. But he paid his U.S. taxes, was a loyal American in time of war, and always thought of himself as a native son. When one speaks of Hemingway’s “eras,” one must realize that there are no easy generalizations. Most...

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Hemingway’s Works

(Literary Masters)

Three Stories & Ten Poems. Paris: Contact Publishing Company, 1923. Robert McAlmon was the owner and editor of Contact. The stories are “Up in Michigan,” “Out of Season,” and “My Old Man.” The last two reappeared in the 1925 story collection In Our Time.“Up in Michigan” was not reprinted until 1938 in a revised form.

in our time. Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1924. William Bird was the owner and editor of Three Mountains Press. This edition includes eighteen vignettes, most of which were reprinted as divisions between stories in the 1925 story collection In Our Time.

In Our Time. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1925. This...

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Hemingway on Hemingway

(Literary Masters)

Like many of his contemporaries (William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence), Ernest Hemingway was unusually aware that an author must also be his own best publicist. Or, as Wallace Stevens suggested, the artist not only must perform upon the stage, he first must build the stage that would contain and explain the artist’s performance. Beginning with his earliest journalism, feature...

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Hemingway as Studied

(Literary Masters)


One of the most common misconceptions about Ernest Hemingway is to assume that as only a high-school graduate, he was not particularly well educated or well read. True, he never attended a university, but he educated himself far beyond what he would have learned in the classroom. By the time he died, his library in Cuba held more than eight thousand volumes. He was well read on European history, military tactics, World War I, the American Civil War, the American West, Italy, Spain, East Africa, fishing and hunting, and contemporary writers. He spoke with...

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Frequently Asked Questions About Ernest Hemingway

(Literary Masters)

Why was Hemingway so fascinated with death?

In his book on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway observed that, "All stories, if continued far enough, end in death." Death looms large in Hemingway's novels, most of which end with the explicit or implied demise of a major character. In his personal life, Hemingway deliberately courted danger and exhibited a fatalistic disregard for his own life. Some of Hemingway's biographers have speculated that his apparent fascination with death arose from the nearly fatal injuries that he received in World War I. Hemingway saw very little action on the Italian front and may have felt a compulsion to repeatedly test his own courage. Plainly, in...

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(Literary Masters)


Brasch, James, and Joseph Sigmund. Hemingway’s Library. New York: Garland, 1981. Necessary to any source study of Hemingway’s post-1940 writing.

Catalog of the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Library, 2 volumes. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982.

Hanneman, Audre.Ernest Hemingway, A Comprehensive Bibliography, 2 volumes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967; supplement, 1975. Vital research tool.

Larson, Kelli.Ernest Hemingway: A Reference Guide, 1974-1989. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991.

Mandel, Miriam B. Reading Hemingway: The Facts in the Fiction. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995. Excel-lent resource for references in the works.

Oliver, Charles.Ernest Hemingway A to Z. New York: Facts on File, 1999.

Reynolds, Michael.Hemingway’s Reading 1910-1940. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981. Also available on-line at the Hemingway Collection home page, John F. Kennedy Library (

Smith, Paul.A Reader’s Guide to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. Best single source on the creation and criticism of Hemingway’s short fiction.

Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1981.


The following libraries have Hemingway collections, their most significant, but by no means their only, holdings noted in parentheses.

Blaine County Library, Ketchum, Idaho (oral histories, photographs).

Indiana University, The Lilly Library (Letters, Ezra Pound and William Bird papers).

John F. Kennedy Library, Boston (the major Hemingway collection of manuscripts, letters, secondary materials, maps, and photographs, established by Mary Hemingway).

Monroe County Library, Key West, Florida (some galleys, photographs, local history).

Oak Park Public Library, Oak Park, Illinois (Tabula and Trapeze from Oak Park High School, local newspaper, photographs).

Princeton University Library (Carlos Baker files, Scribner Author files, Patrick Hemingway Collection).

Stanford University Library (Pauline Hemingway’s 1933-1934 safari journal and Hemingway-Carlos Baker correspondence).

University of Delaware Library (Cut opening of The Sun Also Rises, letters).

University of South Carolina, Thomas Cooper Library (Hemingway and Fitzgerald materials).

University of Texas, Humanities Research Center (Death in the Afternoon and parts of “Big Two-Hearted River” manuscripts, family letters).

University of Tulsa Library (some Spanish Civil War materials).

University of Virginia, Alderman Library (Green Hills of Africa manuscript).

Yale University, Beinecke Library (Charles Fenton Collection, letters to Gertrude Stein).


Gellhorn, Martha. Travels With Myself and Another. London: Eland Books, 1983. Best source for story of Hemingway in China in 1941.

Hemingway, Gregory.Papa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.

Hemingway, Jack.Misadventures of a Fly Fisherman. Dallas: Taylor, 1986.

Hemingway, Leicester. My Brother, Ernest Hemingway. Cleveland: World, 1962; revised edition, with family letters, Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple Press, 1996.

Hemingway, Mary. How It Was. New York: Knopf, 1976. Based on journals she kept during their marriage.

Miller, Madelaine Hemingway.Ernie. New York: Crown, 1975. Best view of life in Oak Park.

Sanford, Marcelline Hemingway.At the Hemingways. Boston: Little, Brown, 1962; revised edition, with family letters and new introductions, Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1999.


Beach, Sylvia.Shakespeare and Company. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1959. Factually flawed, but a well-meaning view of Paris in the 1920s.

Brian, Denis.The True Gen. New York: Grove, 1988. Invaluable collection of brief takes on Hemingway.

Callaghan, Morley.That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others. New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.

Castillo-Puche, Jose Luis.Hemingway in Spain, translated by Helen R. Lane. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974.

Donnelly, Honoria Murphy.Sara &Gerald: Memories of the Murphys and Their Friends, New York: Times Books, 1982.

Loeb, Harold.The Way It Was. New York: Criterion Books, 1959. The prototype for Cohn in The Sun Also Rises tries to set the record straight.

MacLeish, Archibald. Reflections, edited by Bernard Drabeck and Helen Ellis. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986.

McAlmon, Robert.Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930, revised by Kay Boyle. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968. Biased, a little bitter, but an interesting memoir.

Ross, Lillian.Portrait of Hemingway. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961. Infamous portrayal of Hemingway on a New York visit.

Samuelson, Arnold. With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba. New York: Random House, 1984.

Stein, Gertrude.The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1933. Stein’s biased view of Hemingway.

Viertel, Peter.Dangerous Friends: At Large with Hemingway and Huston in the Fifties. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1992. Good take on Hemingway in the 1950s based on new letters and personal contact.


The following books are compilations of interviews with those who knew Hemingway at different points in his life.

Fuentes, Noberto. Hemingway in Cuba, translated by Consuelo E. Corwin. Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart, 1984. Useful inside information on the Cuban years.

Paporov, Uri.Hemingway en Cuba, translated by Armando Partida Tayzan. Mexico City: Siglo XXI Editores, 1993. Interesting book based on interviews shortly after Hemingway’s death.

Plath, James, and Frank Simons.Remembering Ernest Hemingway. Key West, Fla.: Ketch & Yawl Press, 1999. Wide-ranging interviews with Hemingway friends.


Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribners, 1969. Baker’s biography remains the standard one-volume life of Hemingway.

Bruccoli, Matthew J.Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994. Best analysis of the famed friendship.

Donaldson, Scott.By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Viking, 1977.

Fenton, Charles.The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Viking, 1954.

Griffin, Peter.Along With Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. The only source of several pre-Paris short stories.

Kert, Bernice.The Hemingway Women. New York: Norton, 1983. After Baker, this book is the best single-volume biography, interviews with women who would not talk to the male biographers.

Lynn, Kenneth S.Hemingway. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

McLendon, James.Papa: Hemingway in Key West, revised edition. Key West, Fla.: Langley Press, 1990.

Mellow, James R.Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.

Meyers, Jeffrey.Hemingway. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Montgomery, Constance C.Hemingway in Michigan. New York: Fleet, 1966. Lots of local information on the Michigan lakes and woods of Hemingway’s youth.

Reynolds, Michael. Young Hemingway. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986; New York: Norton, 1998.

Reynolds.Hemingway: The Paris Years. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989; New York: Norton, 1999.

Reynolds.Hemingway: The Homecoming. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992; New York: Norton, 1999.

Reynolds.Hemingway: The 1930s. New York: Norton, 1997.

Reynolds.Hemingway: The Final Years. New York: Norton, 1999.


Benstock, Shari.Women of the Left Bank. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. A comprehensive survey. Information not easily found elsewhere.

Berg, A. Scott.Max Perkins, Editor of Genius. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978. Fine narrative of the relationship between Hemingway and his editor, plus Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe.

Bruccoli, Matthew J.Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981. Highly reliable Fitzgerald biography.

Bruccoli and Robert W. Trogdon, eds. American Expatriate Writers: Paris in the Twenties (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Documentary Series, 15). Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman / Gale, 1997.

Carr, Virginia Spencer. Dos Passos: A Life. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984.

Delaney, John, ed.The House of Scribner, 1905-1936 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Documentary Series, 16). Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman / Gale, 1997.

Diliberto, Gioia.Hadley. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992.

Donaldson, Scott.Archibald MacLeish: An American Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.

Ford, Hugh. Published in Paris: A Literary Chronicle of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. New York: Macmillan, 1975.

Hansen, Arlen.Expatriate Paris: A Cultural and Literary Guide to Paris of the 1920s. New York: Little, Brown, 1990. The best of many street, place, and people guides to Paris in the 1920s.

Hoffman, Frederick. The Twenties. New York: Viking, 1955. Seminal cultural and literary survey of the era.

Ludington, Townsend. John Dos Passos. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980.

Miller, Linda P.Letters from the Lost Generation: Gerald and Sara Murphy and Friends. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1991.

Raeburn, John. Fame Became of Him: Hemingway as a Public Writer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984. Excellent documentation and analysis of Hemingway’s rise to fame in the media.

Rollyson, Carl. Nothing Ever Happens to the Brave: The Story of Martha Gell-horn. St. Martin’s Press, 1990. The unauthorized and only Gellhorn biography.

Rovit, Earl. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Twayne, 1963. Another seminal work that still makes sense.

Sarason, Bertram D. Hemingway and the Sun Set. Washington, D.C.: NCR Microcard Editions, 1972. Everything anyone ever wanted to know about the characters in The Sun Also Rises, with interviews.

Sokoloff, Alice H. Hadley: The First Mrs. Hemingway. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973.

Stephens, Robert O. Hemingway’s Nonfiction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968. First and best analysis of Hemingway’s nonfiction and its relationship to his fiction.

Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. Basic history.

Vaill, Amanda.Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1966. Along with Fenton and Baker, Young’s book set the agenda for Hemingway criticism between 1955 and 1975.


Arnold, Lloyd. Hemingway: High on the Wild. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1977. Good source for photos of Hemingway in Idaho.

Buckley, Peter. Ernest. New York: Dial, 1978.

Fuentes, Norberto. Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered. New York: Scribners, 1988.

Gajdusek, Robert E. Hemingway’s Paris. New York: Scribners, 1978.

Hotchner, A. E.Hemingway and His World. New York: Viking, 1989.

Trogdon, Robert W., ed.,Ernest Hemingway: A Documentary Volume (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 210). Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman / Gale, 1999.

Voss, Frederick.Picturing Hemingway. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.


There are many online resources for Hemingway researchers and enthusiasts. Listed below are general sites of interest to students. Most contain links to other, more specialized, sites.

<> Site maintained by the Hemingway Foundation to foster understanding of the life and work of Ernest Hemingway with emphasis on his Oak Park origins and his impact on world literature. Its mission reflects the Foundation’s belief in the importance of the written word and the value of thoughtful reading and writing.

Collection of general resources on Hemingway presented by the Department of English at the University of Florida.

Site maintained by the Michigan Hemingway Society—made up of university professors, writers, teachers, fly fishers, journalists and anyone interested exploring Hemingway’s work and its relationship to Michigan.

<> General resources, featuring a biography, bibliography, audio clips, a writing contest, and a checklist of links.