1899 - 1961
Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 2, 1961. He was 61.
Hemingway was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. Born into an affluent family (his father was a doctor), Hemingway learned the refinements of upper class upbringing by attending concerts, opera performances, and museum events. He also became an outdoorsman when he hunted and fished with his father.
In high school, Hemingway developed a flair for writing when he penned stories and poems for the school newspaper. After graduation, instead of attending college, he chose to take a reporting job with the Kansas City Star.
Originally turned down for military service in World War I, Hemingway was approved as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross along the Austrian-Italian front in July of 1918. He was wounded and fell in love with a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. He proposed marriage, but she said no.
Hemingway’s first major novel, A Farewell to Arms, was based on both his military and personal experiences in war-torn Europe during World War I. It was published in 1929. Some of his other notable works include The Sun Also Rises, For Whom The Bells Toll, and The Old Man In The Sea.
In 1953, Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for his novel, The Old Man And The Sea. Two years later, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his lifetime of literary work.
Hemingway was married four times, the first to Hadley Richardson in 1921. They had one son, John. His second wife was Pauline Pfeiffer, with whom he had two more children, Patrick and Gregory. They divorced in 1940 after 13 years of marriage. He married Martha Gellhorn in 1940, and in 1944, his fourth and final wife was Mary Welsh, to whom he was married when he died.
In 1928, Hemingway’s father committed suicide by shooting himself. Hemingway himself had bouts with depression and alcoholism. In late 1960, he entered the Mayo Clinic for what was publicly stated as treatment for high blood pressure, but family members said it was for Hemingway’s severe depression.
The treatment included shock treatments that caused Hemingway memory loss. After returning to Ketchum, Idaho, where he had taken up residence in 1959, Hemingway’s mental condition worsened. He talked of suicide, and on the morning of July 2, 1961, he rose early, took a shotgun from his gun case, and shot himself in the head.
His wife said he accidentally shot himself while cleaning the weapon, but authorities could find no cleaning equipment around the gun or body. The coroner nevertheless ruled it an accidental death.