Literary great—and Chicagoland native son—Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) traversed the world, reporting on both World Wars in Europe, taking residence in Cuba, exploring Africa and
much more.

1899 – Ernest Miller Hem-ingway is born in Oak Park, IL—the second of six children of Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a physician and outdoorsman, and Grace Hall Hemingway, a singer and mu-sic teacher.

1913 – Hemingway enters Oak Park and River Forest High School, where he writes for the school newspaper and contributes poems and short stories to its literary magazine.

1917 – Following high school graduation, Hemingway is hired as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, where his writing takes on the signature aspects that will define his career: short, to-the-point sentences and paragraphs, active verbs, compassion and clarity, and a desire to capture universally appealing stories.

1918 – As World War I wages on, Hemingway volunteers to serve as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross in Italy, where he is wounded by Austrian shelling. Despite his injury, Hemingway carries a wounded soldier to safety, becoming one of the first Americans to receive the Silver Medal of Valor from the Italian government. War will become a major theme in many of Hemingway’s writings, with this experience serving as inspiration for his popular novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).

1921 – Hemingway marries his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Two years later, Hadley gives birth to their son, Jack.

1922 – Hemingway moves to Europe, spending much time in Paris, where he befriends famed literary figures Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and other writers credited as part of “The Lost Generation.” During his years in Paris, Hemingway composes nearly 90 stories for the Toronto Star—covering a variety of topics from peace conferences to European fisheries and more.

1923 – Hemingway makes his first visit to Pamplona, Spain, where he becomes fascinated with the local bullfights. His first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, is published, and by year’s end, he and Hadley return to the U.S.


1925 – One of Hemingway’s most popular characters, the semi-autobiographical Nick Adams, appears in In Our Time. Stories featuring Adams often reflect Hemingway’s own fondness for the outdoors and adventure.

1926 – The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s novel about an expatriate American reveling in the Roaring Twenties life of post-war Paris, is published. Though deemed tasteless by many American critics, the novel illuminates the war’s devastation in Europe in ways Americans didn’t quite experience in their own country.

1927 – Following his divorce from Hadley, Hemingway marries journalist Pauline Pfeiffer. The couple take up residence in Key West, FL and have two sons, Patrick and Gregory.

1932 – Death in the Afternoon, a book covering matadors and bullfighting is published. Famed works published in the next years include short stories such as “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” and To Have and Have Not (1937).

1937 – Hemingway returns to Spain, where he works on the documentary film The Spanish Earth, a look at the country’s civil war. The war will also inspire his only play, The Fifth Column. During his many visits to Spain, Hemingway sparks a tumultuous affair with novelist Martha Gellhorn.

1940 – Hemingway marries Martha just three weeks after his divorce from Pauline is finalized. For Whom the Bell Tolls, the story of a young American embedded in a guerrilla unit in the Spanish Civil War, is also published. Afterward, the couple moves to Cuba, with Hemingway not publishing any new works for several years. Decades later, it is revealed that the FBI placed Hemingway under surveillance after J. Edgar Hoover became suspicious of his activity in Cuba. Hemingway’s fear of being watched and wiretapped — instincts that prove true — weighs on him for many years.

1945 – During World War II, Hemingway again becomes a war correspondent, witnessing the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach (though his civilian status prohibited his step-ping ashore) and embedding himself with the 22nd Infantry Regiment. As journalists are forbidden to engage in combat, Hemingway finds himself in trouble for helping lead French citizens in resistance; however, because he is off assignment for months at a time, he side-steps the accusations. During his time abroad, he also begins a relationship with journalist Mary Welsh, who will become his fourth wife. For his bravery as a war correspondent, he will be awarded The Bronze Star in 1947.


1952 – Following work on an unpublished trilogy and the negatively received Across the River and Into the Trees, Hemingway prints the novella The Old Man and the Sea in its entirety in Life magazine. The story is a massive success, and earns Hemingway the 1953 Pulitzer Prize, followed by a Nobel Prize for his entire body of work.

1954 – During a trip to Africa, Hemingway and Mary are nearly killed in two plane crashes, sustaining injuries that would plague him the rest of his life.

1959 – In declining health and amidst marital trouble, Hemingway returns to Pamplona to write about the next generation of young matadors for Life magazine. Upon its publication the next year, the article becomes Hemingway’s last published work during his lifetime.

1961 – After undergoing electric shock treatment for depression, Hemingway takes his own life with a shotgun. He is buried in Sun Valley, Idaho.