Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ernest Miller Hemingway (Detailed Biography)

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American author and journalist. His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, influenced 20th-century fiction, as did his life of adventure and public image. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway's fiction was successful because the characters he presented exhibited authenticity that resonated with his audience. Many of his works are classics of American literature. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime; a further three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously.
Hemingway was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After leaving high school he worked for a few months as a reporter for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to become an ambulance driver during World War I, which became the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. He was seriously wounded and returned home within the year. In 1922 Hemingway married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives, and the couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent. During his time there he met and was influenced by modernist writers and artists of the 1920s expatriate community known as the "Lost Generation". His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, was published in 1926.

After divorcing Hadley Richardson in 1927 Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer; they divorced following Hemingway's return from covering the Spanish Civil War, after which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940, but he left her for Mary Welsh after World War II, during which he was present at D-Day and the liberation of Paris.

Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952 Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and '40s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.


Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father Clarence Edmonds Hemingway was a physician, and his mother, Grace Hall-Hemingway, was a musician. Both were well-educated and well-respected in the conservative community of Oak Park. Frank Lloyd Wright, a resident of Oak Park, said of the village: "So many churches for so many good people to go to". When Clarence and Grace Hemingway married in 1896, they moved in with Grace's father, Ernest Hall, after whom they named their first son. Hemingway claimed to dislike his name, which he "associated with the naive, even foolish hero of Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest". The family's seven-bedroom home in a respectable neighborhood contained a music studio for Grace and a medical office for Clarence.

Hemingway's mother frequently performed in concerts around the village. As an adult Hemingway professed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael Reynolds points out that Hemingway mirrored her energy and enthusiasm. Her insistence that he learn to play the cello became a "source of conflict", but he later admitted the music lessons were useful in his writing, as in the "contrapunctal structure" of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The family owned a summer home called Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan, where Hemingway learned to hunt, fish and camp in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan. His early experiences in nature instilled a passion for outdoor adventure, and living in remote or isolated areas.


Early in 1918 Hemingway responded to a Red Cross recruitment effort and signed on to be an ambulance driver in Italy. He left New York in May, and arrived in Paris as the city was under bombardment from German artillery. By June he was stationed at the Italian Front, and on his first day in Milan was sent to the scene of a munitions factory explosion where rescuers retrieved the shredded remains of female workers. He described the incident in his non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon: "I remember that after we searched quite thoroughly for the complete dead we collected fragments". A few days later he was stationed at Fossalta di Piave. On July 8 he was seriously wounded by mortar fire, having just returned from the canteen to deliver chocolate and cigarettes to the men at the front line. Despite his wounds, Hemingway carried an Italian soldier to safety, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. Still only eighteen, Hemingway said of the incident: "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you ... Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you." He sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs; underwent an operation at a distribution center; spent five days at a field hospital; and was transferred to the Red Cross hospital in Milan for recuperation. Hemingway spent six months in the hospital, where he met and fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senior.[22] Agnes and Hemingway planned to marry, but she became engaged to an Italian officer in March 1919, an incident that provided material for the short and bitter work "A Very Short Story".[23] Biographer Jeffrey Meyers claims Hemingway was devastated by Agnes' rejection, and that he followed a pattern of abandoning a wife before she abandoned him in future relationships. During his six months in recuperation Hemingway met and formed a strong friendship with "Chink" Dorman-Smith that lasted for decades.


Hemingway returned home early in 1919 to a time of readjustment. At not yet 20 years old, the war had created in him a maturity at odds with living at home without a job and the need for recuperation. As Reynolds explains, "Hemingway could not really tell his parents what he thought when he saw his bloody knee. He could not say how scared he was in another country with surgeons who could not tell him in English if his leg was coming off or not." That summer he spent time in Michigan with high school friends, fishing and camping; and in September he spent a week in the back-country. The trip became the inspiration for his short story "Big Two-Hearted River", in which the semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams takes to the country to find solitude after returning from war. A family friend offered him a job in Toronto; having nothing else to do he accepted. Late that year he began as a freelancer, staff writer and foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star Weekly. However he returned to Michigan the following June, and then moved to Chicago in September 1920 to live with friends, while still filing stories for the Toronto Star.

In Chicago he worked as an associate editor of the monthly journal Cooperative Commonwealth, where he met Sherwood Anderson. When St. Louis native Hadley Richardson came to Chicago to visit Hemingway's roommate's sister, Hemingway, who was infatuated, later claimed "I knew she was the girl I was going to marry". Hadley was red-haired, with a "nurturing instinct", and eight years older than Hemingway. Despite the difference in age, Hadley, who had an overprotective mother, seemed less mature than usual for a young woman her age. Bernice Kert, author of The Hemingway Women, claims Hadley was "evocative" of Agnes, but that Hadley had a childishness that Agnes lacked. The two corresponded for a few months, and then decided to marry and travel to Europe. They wanted to visit Rome, but Sherwood Anderson convinced them to visit Paris instead. They were married on September 3, 1921; two months later Hemingway was hired as foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star; and the couple left for Paris. Of Hemingway's marriage to Hadley, Meyers claims: "With Hadley, Hemingway achieved everything he had hoped for with Agnes: the love of a beautiful woman, a comfortable income, a life in Europe."


Early Hemingway biographer Carlos Baker believes that, while Anderson suggested Paris because "the monetary exchange rate" made it an inexpensive place to live, more importantly it was where "the most interesting people in the world" resided. There Hemingway would meet writers such as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Ezra Pound who "could help a young writer up the rungs of a career". The Hemingway of the early Paris years was a "tall, handsome, muscular, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, rosy-cheeked, square-jawed, soft-voiced young man." He and Hadley lived in a small walk-up at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the Latin Quarter, and he worked in a rented room in a nearby building. Anderson wrote letters of introduction to Gertrude Stein and other writers in Paris. Stein, who was the bastion of modernism in Paris, became Hemingway's mentor for a period, introducing him to the expatriate artists and writers of the Montparnasse Quarter. She referred to artists as the "Lost Generation"—a term Hemingway popularized with the publication of The Sun Also Rises. A regular at Stein's salon, Hemingway met influential painters such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris. However, Hemingway eventually withdrew from Stein's influence and their relationship deteriorated into a literary quarrel that spanned decades. The American poet Ezra Pound, older than Hemingway by 14 years, met Hemingway by chance at Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company in 1922. The two toured Italy in 1923 and lived on the same street in 1924. They forged a strong friendship and in Hemingway, Pound recognized and fostered a young talent. Pound—who had recently finished editing T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land—introduced Hemingway to the Irish writer James Joyce, with whom Hemingway frequently embarked on "alcoholic sprees".

During his first 20 months in Paris, Hemingway filed 88 stories for the Toronto Star. He covered the Greco-Turkish War, where he witnessed the burning of Smyrna; wrote travel pieces such as "Tuna Fishing in Spain" and "Trout Fishing All Across Europe: Spain Has the Best, Then Germany"; and an article dedicated to bullfighting—"Pamplona in July; World's Series of Bull Fighting a Mad, Whirling Carnival". Hemingway was devastated on learning that Hadley had lost a suitcase filled with his manuscripts at the Gare de Lyon as she was traveling to Geneva to meet him in December 1922. The following September, because Hadley was pregnant, the couple returned to Toronto, where their son John Hadley Nicanor was born on October 10, 1923. During their absence Hemingway's first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published. Two of the stories it contained were all that remained of his work after the loss of the suitcase, and the third had been written the previous spring in Italy. Within months a second volume, in our time (without capitals), was published. The small volume included six vignettes and a dozen stories Hemingway had written the previous summer during his first visit to Spain where he discovered the thrill of the corrida. He missed Paris, considered Toronto boring, and wanted to return to the life of a writer, rather than live the life of a journalist.

Hemingway, Hadley and their son (nicknamed Bumby), returned to Paris in January 1924 and moved into a new apartment on the Rue Notre Dame des Champs. Hemingway helped Ford Madox Ford edit the transatlantic review in which were published works by Pound, John Dos Passos, and Gertrude Stein as well as some of Hemingway's own early stories such as "Indian Camp". When In Our Time (with capital letters) was published in 1925, the dust jacket had comments from Ford. "Indian Camp" received considerable praise; Ford saw it as an important early story by a young writer, and critics in the United States claimed Hemingway reinvigorated the short story with his use of declarative sentences and his crisp style. Six months earlier, Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the pair formed a friendship of "admiration and hostility". Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby had been published that year: Hemingway read it, liked it, and decided his next work had to be a novel.

Since his first visit to see the bullfighting at the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona in 1923, Hemingway was fascinated by the sport; he saw in it the brutality of war juxtaposed against a cruel beauty. In June 1925, Hemingway and Hadley left Paris for their annual visit to Pamplona accompanied by a group of American and British expatriates. The trip inspired Hemingway's first novel, The Sun Also Rises, which he began to write immediately after the fiesta, finishing in September. The novel presents the culture of bullfighting with the concept of afición, depicted as an authentic way of life, contrasted with the Parisian bohemians, depicted as inauthentic. Hemingway decided to slow his pace and devoted six months to the novel's rewrite. The manuscript arrived in New York in April, and he corrected the final proof in Paris in August 1926. Scribner's published the novel in October. The Sun Also Rises epitomized the post-war expatriate generation, received good reviews and is "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work". However, Hemingway himself later wrote to his editor Max Perkins that the "point of the book" was not so much about a generation being lost, but that "the earth abideth forever"; he believed the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been "battered" but were not lost.

Hemingway's marriage to Hadley deteriorated as he was working on The Sun Also Rises. In the spring of 1926, Hadley became aware of his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, although she endured Pauline's presence in Pamplona that July. On their return to Paris, Hadley and Hemingway decided to separate; and in November she formally requested a divorce. They split their possessions while Hadley accepted Hemingway's offer of the proceeds from The Sun Also Rises. The couple were divorced in January 1927, and Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer in May.

Pfeiffer was from Arkansas—her family was wealthy and Catholic—and before the marriage Hemingway converted to Catholicism. In Paris she worked for Vogue. After a honeymoon in Le Grau-du-Roi, where he contracted anthrax, Hemingway planned his next collection of short stories, Men Without Women, published in October 1927. By the end of the year Pauline, who was pregnant, wanted to move back to America. John Dos Passos recommended Key West, and they left Paris in March 1928. Some time that spring Hemingway suffered a severe injury in their Paris bathroom, when he pulled a skylight down on his head thinking he was pulling on a toilet chain. This left him with a prominent forehead scar, subject of numerous legends, which he carried for the rest of his life. When Hemingway was asked about the scar he was reluctant to answer. After his departure from Paris, Hemingway "never again lived in a big city".


In the late spring Hemingway and Pauline traveled to Kansas City where their son Patrick Hemingway was born on June 28, 1928. Pauline had a difficult delivery, which Hemingway fictionalized in A Farewell to Arms. After Patrick's birth, Pauline and Hemingway traveled to Wyoming, Massachusetts and New York. In the fall he was in New York with Bumby, about to board a train to Florida, when he received a cable telling him that his father had committed suicide. Hemingway was devastated, having earlier sent a letter to his father telling him not to worry about financial difficulties; the letter arrived minutes after the suicide. He realized how Hadley must have felt after her own father's suicide in 1903, and he suggested, "I'll probably go the same way."

Upon his return to Key West in December, Hemingway worked on the draft of A Farewell to Arms before leaving for France in January. The draft had been finished in August but he delayed the revision. The serialization in Scribner's Magazine was scheduled to begin in May, but by April, Hemingway was still working on the ending, which he may have rewritten as many as seventeen times. A Farewell to Arms was published on September 27. Biographer James Mellow believes Hemingway's stature as an American writer was secured with the publication of A Farewell to Arms, which has a complexity not apparent in The Sun Also Rises. While in Spain during the summer of 1929, Hemingway researched his next work, Death in the Afternoon. He wanted to write a comprehensive treatise of bullfighting, with explanations of the toreros and corridas, complete with glossaries and appendices, because he believed bullfighting was "of great tragic interest, being literally of life and death."

During the early 1930s Hemingway spent his winters in Key West and summers in Wyoming, where he found "the most beautiful country he had seen in the American West" and hunting that included deer, elk, and grizzly bear. His third son, Gregory Hancock Hemingway, was born on November 12, 1931 in Kansas City. Pauline's uncle bought the couple a house in Key West with the second floor of the carriage house converted to a writing den. While in Key West he enticed his friends to join him on fishing expeditions—inviting Waldo Peirce, John Dos Passos, and Max Perkins—with one all male trip to the Dry Tortugas, and he frequented the local bar, Sloppy Joe's. He continued to travel to Europe and to Cuba, and although he wrote of Key West in 1933, "We have a fine house here, and kids are all well," Mellow believes he "was plainly restless."

In 1933 Hemingway and Pauline went on safari to East Africa. The 10-week trip provided material for Green Hills of Africa, as well as the short stories "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". They visited Mombasa, Nairobi, and Machakos in Kenya, then on to Tanganyika, where they hunted in the Serengeti, around Lake Manyara and west and southeast of the present-day Tarangire National Park. Hemingway contracted amoebic dysentery that caused a prolapsed intestine, and he was evacuated by plane to Nairobi, an experience reflected in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro". Their guide was the noted "white hunter" Philip Hope Percival, who had guided Theodore Roosevelt on his 1909 safari. On his return to Key West in early 1934 Hemingway began work on Green Hills of Africa, published in 1935 to mixed reviews.

Hemingway bought a boat in 1934, named it the Pilar, and began sailing the Caribbean. In 1935 he first arrived at Bimini, where he spent a considerable amount of time. During this period he also worked on To Have and Have Not, published in 1937 while he was in Spain, the only novel he wrote during the 1930s.


It was in Christmas 1936 when Hemingway first met war correspondent Martha Gellhorn at a bar in Key West, Florida. In 1937 Hemingway agreed to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA). In March he arrived in Spain with Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens. Ivens, who was filming The Spanish Earth, needed Hemingway as a screenwriter to replace John Dos Passos, who left the project when his friend José Robles was arrested and later executed. The incident changed Dos Passos' opinion of the leftist republicans, which created a rift between him and Hemingway, who spread a rumor that Dos Passos was a coward for leaving Spain.

Martha Gellhorn went on to join him in Spain. Like Hadley, Martha was a native of St. Louis, and like Pauline, she had worked for Vogue in Paris. Of Martha, Kert explains, "she never catered to him the way other women did." Late in 1937, while in Madrid with Martha, Hemingway wrote his only play, The Fifth Column, as the city was being bombarded. He returned to Key West for a few months, then back to Spain twice in 1938. He was present at the Battle of the Ebro, the last republican stand, and was among fellow British and American journalists who were some of the last to leave the battle as they crossed the river.

In the spring of 1939, Hemingway crossed to Cuba in his boat to live in the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana. This was the separation phase of a slow and painful split from Pauline, which had begun when Hemingway met Martha. Martha soon joined him in Cuba, and they almost immediately rented "Finca Vigia" ("Lookout Farm"), a 15-acre (61,000 m2) property 15 miles (24 km) from Havana. Pauline and the children left Hemingway that summer, after the family was re-united during a visit to Wyoming. After Hemingway's divorce from Pauline was finalized, he and Martha were married November 20, 1940, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As he had after his divorce from Hadley, he changed locations; moving his primary summer residence to Ketchum, Idaho, just outside the newly built resort of Sun Valley, and his winter residence to Cuba. Hemingway, who had been disgusted when a Parisian friend allowed his cats to eat from the table, "developed a passion for cats" in Cuba, keeping dozens of them on the property.

Gellhorn inspired him to write his most famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he started in March 1939, finished in July 1940, and was published in October 1940. Consistent with his pattern of moving around while working on a manuscript, he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba, Wyoming, and Sun Valley. For Whom the Bell Tolls became a book-of-the-month choice, sold half a million copies within months, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and as Meyers describes, "triumphantly re-established Hemingway's literary reputation".

In January 1941 Martha was sent to China on assignment for Collier's magazine, and Hemingway accompanied her. Although Hemingway wrote dispatches for PM, he had little affinity for China. They had returned to Cuba before the declaration of war by the United States that December, and he convinced the Cuban government to help him refit the Pilar to ambush German submarines.

During World War II, he was in Europe from June to December 1944. At the D-Day landing, military officials who considered him "precious cargo", kept him to a landing craft, although biographer Kenneth Lynn claims Hemingway fabricated accounts that he went ashore during the landings. Late in July he attached himself to "the 22nd Infantry Regiment commanded by Col. Charles 'Buck' Lanaham, as it drove toward Paris", and he led a small band of village militia in Rambouillet, outside of Paris. Of Hemingway's exploits, World War II historian Paul Fussell remarks: "Hemingway got into considerable trouble playing infantry captain to a group of Resistance people that he gathered because a correspondent is not supposed to lead troops, even if he does it well". This was in fact in contraversion to the Geneva Convention, and Hemingway was brought up on formal charges; he said he "beat the rap" by claiming that his entire participation was to give advice. On August 25 he was present at the liberation of Paris, although the assertion that he was first in the city, or that he liberated the Ritz is considered part of the Hemingway legend. While in Paris he attended a reunion hosted by Sylvia Beach, and "made peace with" Gertrude Stein. Hemingway was present at heavy fighting in the Hürtgenwald near the end of 1944. On December 17, a feverish and ill Hemingway had himself driven to Luxembourg to cover what would later be called The Battle of the Bulge. However, as soon as he arrived, Lanham handed him to the doctors, who hospitalized him with pneumonia, and by the time he recovered a week later, the main fighting was over.

In 1947 Hemingway was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery during World War II. He was recognized for his valor in having been "under fire in combat areas in order to obtain an accurate picture of conditions", with the commendation that "through his talent of expression, Mr. Hemingway enabled readers to obtain a vivid picture of the difficulties and triumphs of the front-line soldier and his organization in combat".

When Hemingway initially arrived in England, he met Time magazine correspondent Mary Welsh in London, and was infatuated. Martha—who had been forced to cross the Atlantic in a ship filled with explosives because he refused to help her get a press pass on a plane—arrived in London to find Hemingway hospitalized with a concussion from a car accident. Unsympathetic to his plight, she accused him of being a bully, and told him she was "through, absolutely finished." The last time he saw her was in March 1945, as he was preparing to return to Cuba. Meanwhile, he had asked Mary Welsh to marry him on their third meeting.


Hemingway said he "was out of business as a writer" from 1942 to 1945. In 1946 he married Mary, who had an ectopic pregnancy five months later. Hemingway and Mary had a series of accidents and health problems after the war: in a 1945 car accident he "smashed his knee" and sustained another "deep wound on his forehead"; Mary broke her right ankle and then her left ankle in successive skiing accidents. In 1947 his sons Patrick and Gregory were in a car accident, leaving Patrick with a head wound and severely ill. Hemingway became depressed as his literary friends died: in 1939 Yeats and Ford Madox Ford; in 1940 Scott Fitzgerald; in 1941 Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce; in 1946 Gertrude Stein; and the following year in 1947, Max Perkins, Hemingway's long time Scribner's editor and friend. During this period he had severe headaches, high blood pressure, weight problems, and eventually diabetes—much of which was the result of previous accidents and heavy drinking. Nonetheless, early in 1946 he began work on The Garden of Eden, finishing 800 pages by June. During the post–war years he also began work on a trilogy to be called "The Land", "The Sea" and "The Air" which he intended to combine in one novel known as The Sea Book. However, both projects stalled and Mellow considers his inability to continue "a symptom of his troubles" during these years.

In 1948 Hemingway and Mary traveled to Europe. In Italy he returned to the site of his World War I accident, and shortly afterwards began work on Across the River and Into the Trees, which he continued through 1949; it was published in 1950 to bad reviews. The next year he wrote the draft of Old Man and the Sea in eight weeks, considering it "the best I can write ever for all of my life". The Old Man and the Sea became a book-of-the month selection, made Hemingway an international celebrity, and won the Pulitzer Prize in May 1952, a month before he left for his second trip to Africa.

In Africa he was seriously injured in two successive plane crashes. Hemingway chartered a sightseeing flight of the Belgian Congo as a Christmas present to Mary. On their way to photograph Murchison Falls from the air, the plane struck an abandoned utility pole and "crash landed in heavy brush." Hemingway's injuries included a head wound, while Mary broke two ribs. The next day, attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded at take-off with Hemingway suffering burns and another concussion, this one serious enough to cause leaking of cerebral fluid. They eventually arrived in Entebbe to find reporters covering the story of Hemingway's death. He briefed the reporters, and spent the next few weeks recuperating and reading his obituaries. Despite his injuries, Hemingway accompanied Patrick and his wife on a planned fishing expedition in February, but pain caused him to be irascible and difficult to get along with. When a bushfire broke out he was again injured, with second degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. Months later in Venice, "according to Mary they learned the full extent of Hemingway's injuries". She reported to friends that he had two cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder and a broken skull. The accidents may have precipitated the physical deterioration that was to follow. After the plane crashes, Hemingway, who had been "a thinly controlled alcoholic throughout much of his life, drank more heavily than usual to combat the pain of his injuries."

In October 1954 Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He modestly told the press that Carl Sandburg, Isak Dinesen and Bernard Berenson deserved the prize, but the prize money would be welcome. Mellow claims Hemingway "had coveted the Nobel Prize", but when he won it, months after his plane accidents and the ensuing world-wide press coverage, "there must have been a lingering suspicion in Hemingway's mind that his obituary notices had played a part in the academy's decision." Because he was suffering pain from the African accidents, he decided against traveling to Stockholm. Instead he sent a speech to be read, defining the writer's life: "Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day."

From the end of the year in 1955 to early 1956, Hemingway was bedridden. He was told to stop drinking to mitigate liver damage, advice he initially followed but then disregarded. In October 1956 he returned to Europe and met Basque writer Pio Baroja, who was seriously ill and died weeks later. During the trip Hemingway became ill again, and was treated for "high blood pressure, liver disease, and arteriosclerosis". That November he recovered trunks left in the "basement of the Ritz Hotel in Paris when he left for Key West in 1928", filled with notebooks and writing from his Paris years. Back in Cuba in 1957 he started to shape the recovered work into his memoir A Moveable Feast. By 1959 he culminated a period of intense activity: finished A Moveable Feast (scheduled to be released the following year); brought True at First Light to 200,000 words; added chapters to The Garden of Eden; and worked on Islands in the Stream. The latter three were stored in a safe deposit box in Havana, as he focused on the finishing touches for A Moveable Feast. Reynolds claims that it was during this period he slid into depression, from which he was unable to recover. The Finca Vigia became crowded with guests and tourists, as Hemingway, beginning to become unhappy with life there, considered a permanent move to Idaho. In 1959 he bought a home overlooking the Big Wood River, outside of Ketchum, and left Cuba—although he apparently remained on easy terms with the Castro government, telling the New York Times he was "delighted" with Castro's overthrow of Havana. In 1960 the Finca Vigia was expropriated by the Cuban government after the Bay of Pigs Invasion, (two months before Hemingway's death), complete with Hemingway's collection of "four to six thousand books"; the Hemingway’s were forced to leave art and manuscripts in a bank vault in Havana.


He continued to work on A Moveable Feast through the end of the 1950s, and in the summer of 1959 he visited Spain to research a series of bullfighting articles for Life Magazine. Back in Ketchum at Christmas he appeared to be suffering from paranoia; at a restaurant one night with friends, he claimed the lights were on in the adjacent bank building because the FBI were "checking our accounts". By January he returned to Cuba and continued work on the Life magazine series. The manuscript grew to 63,000 words—Life wanted only 10,000 words—and he asked A. E. Hotchner to help organize the work that would become The Dangerous Summer. Hotchner found Hemingway to be "unusually hesitant, disorganized, and confused".

Although Hemingway's mental deterioration was noticeable in the summer of 1960, he again traveled to Spain to obtain photographs for the manuscript. Without Mary, he was lonely and took to his bed for days, retreating into silence. The first installments of The Dangerous Summer were published in Life in September 1960 to good reviews. When he left Spain, he went straight to Idaho, but was worried about money and his safety. As his paranoia increased, he believed the FBI was actively monitoring his movements. Hemingway suffered from physical problems as well: his health declined and his eyesight was failing. In November he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he may have believed he was to be treated for hypertension. Meyers writes that "an aura of secrecy surrounds Hemingway's treatment at the Mayo", but confirms that in December 1960 he received electroconvulsive therapy as many as 15 times, then in January 1961 he was "released in ruins".

Three months later, back in Ketchum, Mary found Hemingway holding a shotgun one morning. She called Dr. Saviers, who sedated him and had him admitted to the Sun Valley Hospital; from there he was returned to the Mayo for more shock treatments. He was released in late June and arrived home in Ketchum on June 30. Two days later, in the early morning hours of July 2, 1961, Hemingway "quite deliberately" shot himself with his favorite shotgun. He unlocked the gun cabinet, went to the front entrance of their Ketchum home, and "pushed two shells into the twelve-gauge Boss shotgun, put the end of the barrel into his mouth, pulled the trigger and blew out his brains." Mary called the Sun Valley Hospital, and Dr. Scott Earle arrived at the house within "fifteen minutes". Despite his finding that Hemingway "had died of a self-inflicted wound to the head", the story told to the press was that the death had been "accidental".

During his final years, Hemingway's behavior was similar to his father's before he himself committed suicide; his father may have had the genetic disease hemochromatosis, in which the inability to metabolize iron culminates in mental and physical deterioration. Medical records made available in 1991 confirm that Hemingway's hemochromatosis had been diagnosed in early 1961. His sister Ursula and his brother Leicester also committed suicide. Added to Hemingway's physical ailments was the additional problem that he had been a heavy drinker for most of his life. Writing in "Ernest Hemingway: A Psychological Autopsy of a Suicide", Christopher Martin evaluates the causes of the suicide: "Careful reading of Hemingway's major biographies and his personal and public writings reveals evidence suggesting the presence of the following conditions during his lifetime: bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, traumatic brain injury, and probable borderline and narcissistic personality traits". Martin claims suicide was inevitable because Hemingway "suffered from an enormous burden of psychiatric comorbidities and risk factors for suicide", although without a clinical evaluation of the patient, Martin concedes a diagnosis is difficult.

Hemingway's family and friends flew to Ketchum for the funeral, which was officiated by the local Catholic priest who believed the death accidental. Of the funeral (during which an altar boy fainted at the head of the casket), his brother Leicester wrote: "It seemed to me Ernest would have approved of it all."

In a press interview five years later Mary Hemingway admitted her husband had committed suicide.

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