Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, and was
educated there in the public schools. Rather than attend college, however,
Hemingway decided to work for the Kansas City Star newspaper. In World War I Hemingway
served as a Red Cross ambulance driver until he was severely wounded in action.
After recuperating in Italy, he settled in Paris, where he began his serious
writing career while spending time with other American expatriates, including Ezra Pound and
Gertrude Stein. In 1926 Hemingway published his first major novel, The Sun Also
Rises, a depiction of what Stein referred to as the "lost generation" of young people in the
1920's. This novel not only established Hemingway as the preeminent writer of his generation,
but revealed two key principles that would inform the writing of most of his career.
First, he demonstrated his determination to strip language to its most essential
components by omitting any word not absolutely necessary. Second, he stressed
the importance of authentic experience in his work, confessing, "I found the greatest
difficulty, aside from knowing what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, and
had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action:
what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced." During the following
decade Hemingway traveled to Spain, Africa, and Florida, gaining material for his
future works through his experiences as bullfight aficionado, big game hunter,
and deep sea fisherman. He served as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War -- which
eventually became the background for his 1939 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls -- and
World War II. Hemingway's short novel The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in
1953, and contributed to his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. By the
1960's, however, Hemingway was in poor health, depressed, and losing his
memory, and he committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho on July 2, 1961.