In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ernest Hemingway

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Correspondence
  • Reception
  • Hemingway and Other Writers
  • Dramatizations of Hemingway

American Literature Ernest Hemingway
Sara Kosiba
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 August 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 August 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0022


Ernest Hemingway (b. 1899–d. 1961) was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and spent his formative years there. In addition he spent summers with his family in northern Michigan, a setting that later became the focus of much of his fiction. Hemingway’s search for knowledge and adventure after high school led him to a brief job reporting for the Kansas City Star, and in 1918, during World War I, he enlisted in the American Red Cross. He was wounded in Italy a few months after enlisting and returned to Oak Park profoundly influenced by the experience. In 1921 Hemingway returned to Europe, where he served as a roving correspondent for the Toronto Star and began to refine his craft as a writer with two collections of stories published by Parisian presses. His first American publication was In Our Time (1925), a series of stories and vignettes based on his experiences of northern Michigan and his reporting and travels. The Torrents of Spring (1926), a Michigan-based story and parody of the work of Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein, was a symbol of Hemingway’s break with his mentors and with his initial publisher, Boni and Liveright. All of Hemingway’s major work from that point on was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, where he formed a famous friendship with the editor Maxwell Perkins. Hemingway’s career took off with the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), an insightful portrayal of American expatriate life in Europe in the 1920s and one of the first books to show his strong interest in the Spanish bullfighting tradition. A Farewell to Arms (1929), based in part on Hemingway’s own World War I experiences in Italy, became a best seller and helped cement his name in the literary world. Several other novels followed: To Have and Have Not (1937); his Key West novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which used material from the Spanish Civil War; and Across the River and Into the Trees (1950), set in Italy after World War II. In 1952 The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1954 Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His prolific literary contributions also include collections of short stories, many of which have appeared in anthologies and textbooks. He also published nonfiction, memoirs, and essays, often about hunting, fishing, and bullfighting, all activities long associated with Hemingway’s life and career. His literary career continued to expand even after his death, with several of his manuscripts adapted into posthumous publications, including A Moveable Feast (1964, revised edition 2009), his memoir of Paris in the 1920s.

General Overviews

Despite the large amount of discussion devoted to Hemingway’s biography and career, there are few full-length, comprehensive overviews of his life and work. Baker 1972 and Young 1966, for example, are influenced by the fact that both critics began working and writing while Hemingway was still alive and provide a sense of where Hemingway scholarship was at that point in time. Many of these books, while not reflecting the most recent ideas in Hemingway scholarship, do provide strong foundational details necessary to understand Hemingway’s life and work. Waldhorn 1972 provides a good general overview of Hemingway’s career. Donaldson 1977 and Rovit and Brenner 1986 are updated one-volume studies of Hemingway merging biography and criticism. Trogdon 2007, while not looking at Hemingway’s life in detail, is one of the few detailed studies of his publishing career.

  • Baker, Carlos. Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. 4th ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.

    Focuses primarily on Hemingway’s work between 1920 and 1952. The first two chapters, on Hemingway’s early career, are revised in the fourth edition, and two new chapters on A Moveable Feast and Islands in the Stream, respectively, have been added.

  • Donaldson, Scott. By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Viking, 1977.

    Donaldson’s book combines biography and literary criticism. Provides a strong sense of the major themes in Hemingway’s life and work by drawing on biographical information, excerpts from letters, and different works of his fiction.

  • Rovit, Earl H., and Gerry Brenner. Ernest Hemingway. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

    Originally published by Rovit in 1963. Examines Hemingway’s life and work in historical and literary context. The 1986 version has updated references and bibliography along with a chapter focusing on the posthumous works A Moveable Feast, The Dangerous Summer, “African Journal,” and Islands in the Stream.

  • Trogdon, Robert W. The Lousy Racket: Hemingway, Scribner’s, and the Business of Literature. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2007.

    Overview of Hemingway’s interactions with Scribner’s, his publisher throughout his career. Examines the editing, promotion, and sales of his books and Hemingway’s own influence and interaction in that process.

  • Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1972.

    Good general introduction to Hemingway’s writing. Provides chapters on Hemingway’s life and writing style and major themes in his work. Also contains an annotated bibliography of resources and some additional reference material regarding films based on his work.

  • Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1966.

    Revised version of Young’s Ernest Hemingway (New York: Rinehart, 1952). Psychoanalytic examination of important themes in Hemingway’s work. Young notes in the 1966 edition that the text is the same other than “changes of tense, deletion of old footnotes and substitution of others, the addition of several details and the striking of a few” (p. iv).

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