5 Facts You May Have Not Known About Ernest Hemingway

Here are five facts you may not know about Earnest Hemingway, to celebrate his birthday!


The 20th century author that we all know and love was born on July 21st, 1899. He is best known for his 1952 novel “The Old Man and the Sea”, and for coining “iceberg theory”, a style of writing where much of the story is happening beneath the surface. Here are five facts you may not know about Ernest Hemingway, to celebrate his birthday!


1) He Was Married Four Times

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After each separation, he married another woman less than a year later! Guess he just really enjoys the company. His first wife, Elizabeth Richardson, was a piano player whom he met at a party. They hit it off immediately and married in the year 1921. However, he started having an affair with a journalist by the name of Pauline Pfeiffer. He divorced Richardson and married Pfeiffer a few months after. Nine year later, he started having another affair with writer Martha Gelhorn, but didn’t divorce Pauline until the year 1940. He married Martha sixteen days after the divorce was finalized. Then another journalist entered their lives, Mary Welsh, and Hemingway divorced Martha seven years later and married Mary in 1946, who stayed with Hemingway until his death in 1961.

2) He Was an Avid Boxer

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Personality wise, Hemingway was known for his “macho man” style and loved violence and engaging in bar fights. His favorite pastime was boxing, which he used as a source of inspiration for his writing, which can be seen in his short story “Fifty Grand” and his novel “The Sun Also Rises”. He once said “My writing is nothing, my boxing is everything”. He would offer $250 to anyone who could knock him out, and once challenged heavyweight champion Gene Tunney. Although Hemingway considered himself a pro, many said that he wasn’t nearly as skilled as he thought he was, and would encourage him simply to appease him.

3) He Was a KBG Spy-But Not a Very Good One

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KGB, otherwise known as “Committee for State Security”, were secret spies for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was apparently recruited when he accompanied his wife, Martha when she was sent to China to cover a story. He was given the codename “Argo”, but did not fulfill any of the duties KGB spies were supposed to accomplish, such as providing them with useful information, and wasn’t properly trained. Later in his life, he started to express extreme stress at the thought that he was being watched by the government. Although it was brushed off as paranoia by his family and peers, it was later revealed that the FBI was in fact spying on him.

4) He Was Accused-and Later Acquitted- of War Crimes

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When Hemingway was working as a journalist and war correspondent during WWII, he removed pieces of his uniform that gave him his identity, disguising himself as an army officer. He then led a band of soldiers to a French town called Rambouillet on a mission during the Liberation of Paris, invading a Ritz hotel and a Ritz restaurant. However, war correspondents do not have permission to lead troops. He proclaimed his innocence, claiming that he simply acted as an advisor. He was later acquitted of his crimes.


5) He Was Given Electroshock Therapy More Than 15 Times

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To help treat his severe depression later in his life, Hemingway underwent electroshock therapy, otherwise known as ECT. Invented in the 1930s, ECT is a procedure that is done via general anesthetic which induces a small seizure which is supposed to change the brain’s chemistry, treating many mental health conditions. Although beneficial to many, it is known to have severe effects on the memory, especially when it’s done more than one time with dated equipment and technologies. The loss of his memory was so severe that Hemingway began to forget his own name, and begged his wife to stop the treatments. It is widely speculated that the ECT largely contributed to his suicide in 1961.
featured image via carmen e. richards