Interesting Facts About Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, to Clarence and Grace Hemingway. He was the second of six children. In his lifetime, he penned seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additionally, three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works have been published posthumously. Hemingway was awarded two Pulitzer prizes, for For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, which also earned him a Nobel prize.

  • His mother, Grace, was the domineering type. She wanted a daughter, not a son. To placate herself after Ernest was born, she would dress him up in pink, flowery dresses and call him “Ernestine”.

  • His mother kept him out of school for a year- to study playing the cello. Did it work? According to Hemingway: “That cello- I played it worse than anyone on earth.”

Ernest Hemingway In Milan

Ernest Hemingway in Milan 1918

  • He joined the Ambulance Corps in World War I and worked as an ambulance driver on the Italian front.  He was awarded the Silver Medal of Valor from the Italians.

  • Hemingway participated in the Spanish Civil War and took part in the D-Day landings during the invasion of France during World War II. He was decorated with the Bronze Star for his actions.

Hemingway injured

An injured Ernest Hemingway in 1918

  • He was married four times and dedicated a book to each wife during the time he was married to them.

  • Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats (cats having six or more toes on each foot). His first cat was named “Snowball.” He became so fascinated and enamored by the six-toed felines, he eventually had 50 roaming around his home in Key West. Polydactyl cats are now so identified with him, they are now commonly referred to as “Hemingway cats.”

Hemingway Hunting in 1934

  • Hemingway survived two plane crashes in the span of two days. In one instance, his plane caught fire on the runway. With the plane door jammed closed, he used his head as a battering ram and butted it open.

  • Hemingway was an expert fisherman. In 1938, he set a world record by catching seven marlins in one day. He was the first person to ever boat a giant tuna in an undamaged state.

Ernest Hemingway fishing

  • Ernest Hemingway preferred to work standing up. He spent hours and hours at a time on his feet. He moved only to shift his weight from one leg to the other.

  • He once stole a urinal out of his favorite bar and moved it to his Key West home. He reasoned that, “I pissed away so much of my money in that urinal that I own it.”

  • He was a very sick man, physically. Hemingway, in his lifetime, survived skin cancer, anthrax, malaria, dysentery, hepatitis, anemia, high blood pressure, a ruptured kidney, a ruptured spleen, a ruptured liver, pneumonia, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull, and three car-crashes.

Ernest Hemingway at work

  • Hemingway suffered from severe depression during his life. He called his attacks of depression his “black dog days.”

  • His favorite meal was a New York strip steak, a baked potato, Caesar salad, and a glass of Bordeaux. On July 2, 1961, this was the meal Hemingway consumed before he took his favorite shotgun and ended his life. His father had used this same method to take his life several decades previously.

  • Hemingway’s last words were; “Goodnight my kitten”. These words were spoken to his wife Mary.

You can also check out my review of The Old Man and The Sea here.




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