Part 36 - Ernest Hemingway was Born (July 21, 1899)

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This week (July 17-23) in literary history – Erle Stanley Gardner was born (July 17, 1889); Hunter S. Thompson was born (July 18, 1929); Irish novelist Frank McCourt died (July 19, 2009); Emile Zola fled France (July 19, 1898); Ernest Hemingway was born (July 21, 1899); J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (July 21, 2007); Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was entered into the "Stationers Register" (July 22, 1598); Crime novelist Raymond Chandler was born (July 23, 1888)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -

On July 21, 1899, Ernest Miller Hemingway, author of The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and other classic works was born in Oak Park, Illinois. The influential American literary icon who tackled topics such as bullfighting and war in his work, also became famous for his own macho, hard-drinking persona.

As a boy, Hemingway, the second of six children of Clarence Hemingway, a doctor, and Grace Hall Hemingway, a musician, learned to fish and hunt, which would remain lifelong passions. After graduating from high school in 1917, he volunteered for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, he was severely wounded by mortar fire while helping an injured soldier and spent months recuperating.

After the war, Hemingway returned home and married Hadley Richardson and the pair moved to Paris, France, and was part of a group of expatriate writers and artists that included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. In 1925, Hemingway published his first collection of short stories, which was followed by his well-received 1926 debut novel The Sun Also Rises, about a group of American and British expatriates in the 1920s who journey from Paris to Pamplona, Spain, to watch bullfighting.

By the late 1920's, Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms, divorced his first wife and married Pauline Pfeiffer, left Europe and moved to Key West, Florida. In 1932, his non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon, about bullfighting in Spain, was released. It was followed in 1935 by another non-fiction work, Green Hills of Africa, about a safari Hemingway made to East Africa in the early 1930s. During the late 1930s, Hemingway traveled to Spain to report on that country's civil war, and also spent time living in Cuba. In 1937, he released To Have and Have Not, a novel about a fishing boat captain forced to run contraband between Key West and Cuba.

In 1940, the acclaimed For Whom the Bell Tolls, about a young American fighting with a band of guerrillas in the Spanish civil war, was published. Hemingway went on to work as a war correspondent in Europe during World War II, and wrote the 1950 novel Across the River and into the Trees.

Hemingway's last significant work to be published during his lifetime was 1952's The Old Man and the Sea, a novella about an aging Cuban fisherman that was an allegory referring to the writer's own struggles to preserve his art in the face of fame and attention. Hemingway had become a cult figure whose four marriages and adventurous exploits in big-game hunting and fishing were widely covered in the press. But despite his fame, he had not produced a major literary work in the decade before The Old Man and the Sea debuted. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.

After surviving two plane crashes in Africa in 1953, Hemingway became increasingly anxious and depressed. On July 2, 1961, he killed himself with a shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. (His father had committed suicide in 1928.) He was buried at the Ketchum Cemetery. Three novels were released posthumously, Islands in the Stream (1970), The Garden of Eden (1986) and True at First Light (1999), as was the memoir A Moveable Feast (1964), which was about his time in Paris in the 1920s.

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Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that include the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles (2012) and America's Literary Legends (2014). Visit Michael's website for more information. His books can be purchased from Schiffer Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, Amazon and other fine book sellers.

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