History of the Life and Loves of Ernest Hemingway

People | March 9, 2019

Ernest Hemingway. Source: (killadj.com)

The writings of Ernest Hemingway are well known throughout the literary world, but how much is known about him as a person? A lot of authors use their own lives or the lives of those they know in their stories or at least certain aspects of them.

To begin with, Ernest Hemingway was an American author who was born in Illinois in 1899. As a young person of 17 years old, he began his first actual writing job in a newspaper office in Kansas City. At the age of 18, he left for Italy to work with an ambulance service during World War I as a way of helping out since they would not let him enlist due to his eyesight. It is amazing that he was able to write so many books since he had a problem with his eyesight. After just a couple of months, he was sent back home because he got hurt. Not long after his return, he was sent back over to Europe as a reporter to report on events of the war. 

Hemingway and His first wife, Hadley Richardson. Source: (theguardian.com)

Before Hemingway actually married the first time, he had fallen in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, who was a Red Cross nurse that took care of him after he was injured overseas. They had planned to get married in America just a few months after he was released from the hospital, but instead, he received a “Dear John” letter saying that she was marrying someone else. Because of this rejection, he made up his mind he would never let another woman do that to him, which explains why he became such a womanizer with four marriages.

Nonetheless, just a couple of years later, in 1922 at age 20, he did meet and marry Hadley Richardson, who was eight years older than he was. They moved to Paris, where he continued his writing, working as a foreign correspondent. Still, as an unknown writer, he used their experiences and life in Paris as material for some of his writings. Together, they had one son.

Hemingway and His Second Wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Source: (pinterest.com)

Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley were happy together even though they were poor until Pauline Pfeiffer entered the picture. He was introduced to her and her sister who were wealthy. Pauline actually befriended Hadley and the “three” of them became friends.

After meeting Pauline Pfeiffer, who was a totally different type of person from Hadley, he began having an affair with her, which eventually led to a 100-day separation at Hadley’s request. At the end of the 100 days, they divorced. Just a few months after the divorce, he married Pfeiffer in May of 1927. Together, they had two sons. In his memoirs, Hemingway blames her for destroying his marriage to Hadley, who was the only one he truly loved. 

Martha Gellhorn – Hemingway’s Third Wife. Source: (quotesgram.com)

Hemingway had finally had enough of Pauline and her ways so when he met Martha Gellhorn, he ended it with her after his return from working as a journalist in the Spanish Civil War. It was in November of 1940 when they divorced and just three weeks later, he married Martha.

Like Hemingway, Martha was also an American journalist and war correspondent. Throughout her 60-year journalism career, she reported on every major world conflict. Her marriage to Hemingway only lasted five years (1940-1945) before he met yet another woman, Mary Welsh.

Martha lived until the ripe old age of 89 but ended her own life through suicide.  

Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh. Source: (intrigue.ie)

It was while he was in London during World War II that Hemingway met Mary Welsh, a correspondent for Time magazine. He proposed to her on only their third meeting. After he and Martha divorced in 1945, he married Mary the next year. They remained married until his death in 1961, a total of 15 years. They had no children together. She was the one who found him, according to local newspapers, who found him on that fateful morning of his death. 

Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich. Source: (standard.co.uk)

An unusual relationship took place between Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich. His nickname for her was “kraut” and her nickname for him was “Papa.” This relationship lasted for 30 years but was strictly platonic even though at least one graphic letter was uncovered and on public auction. There is actually a collection of 30 other letters that were donated to the Kennedy Library in Boston. This one steamy letter though was written in August of 1955 by Hemingway to Dietrich. The letter was written six years before he committed suicide. They met in 1934 when she was on her way back to the US from Nazi Germany and he was returning from an African safari. Their relationship continued right up until his suicide the evening before his 62nd birthday.  

Hemingway’s suicide. Source: (pinterest.com)

There was a history of suicide in the family. His father committed suicide as well as his granddaughter. With many contributing factors besides his father’s suicide such as his health issues, his drinking, and his problems with women, not to mention being up close and personal with various wars, he suffered from bouts of depression. More than likely this is what led up to his eventual suicide. He had residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba. He moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho in 1959 where he committed suicide in 1961. 

Hemingway with one of his cats (Photo from lifewithcats.tv)

Ernest Hemingway will always be remembered as a great writer. He was a very active person who loved the outdoors, bullfighting, and big game hunting. He even loved cats. In fact, he had a houseful of them. One of his homes is actually a museum now with 40 -50 cats.

Most of his writings occurred between the 1920s and the 1950s. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. All in all, he published seven novels, six short stories, and two nonfiction writings. These are just a few of his writings: The Sun Also Rises (1926); A Farewell to Arms (1929); For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940); and The Old Man and the Sea (1952). Ernest Hemingway is like an onion with a lot of layers. The more you peel off (or read about), the more layers you discover. He was a very complex person with deep-seated issues.

Tags: ernest hemingway, suicide, marriages, writers, authors

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Penny Chavers


Penny, besides writing, loves to spend her time with family and friends. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing the piano, board games, and taking online classes on topics that interest her.