Ernest Hemingway~ July 21,1899 - July 2, 1961

Ernest Hemingway: Writer, Journalist

"As a writer you should not judge, you should understand." 

The Hemingway family in 1905, Ernest is at right.

Gertrude Stein was a mentor to Hemingway when he first arrived in Paris in the early 1920s. The painting is by Picasso; the sculpture by Jo Davidson.


Chicago, IL

Run Time:



Fiction, Nonfiction, Reporting



Oak Park, IL

Youthful Influence:

His grandfather, uncle, and aunt — all storytellers. His mother who was artistic and his father a journalist. And the public library.

Favorite Authors:

Shakespeare and other classics, Jack London, Ring Lardner, Twain etc.

Creative Habit:

He worked sunrise to noon, wrote 500 words a day, stood to write, typed dialogue and narration but wrote all else by hand. First drafts were wordy, and editing was slow. (He socialized after noon.)

Interview Movie
(Embedded version below)

MP3 Audio File
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Hemingway was born here in 1899, in the home of his grandfather, and he grew up on its idyllic streets and played in the nearby fields. In his youth he was surrounded by storytellers who were his inspiration. His grandfather began each day after breakfast with a story, his nearby aunt was a professional storyteller, and a favorite uncle, a world traveler, kept him entertained with adventurous tales.

Many of the writers we’ve interviewed cite Hemingway as a major influence in their reading and writing lives. His philosophy of 'writing true' and the cadence of his prose immediately identify his work, and our interviewers discuss how he developed this style that led to his becoming America’s sixth Nobel Laureate in Literature.

Hemingway is known for his heroism in two world wars, his adventuring, hunting, fishing, womanizing, heavy drinking, his 'manliness' and general carousing. However, in this interview Mr. Griffin speaks eloquently of his spiritual side, his symbolism and his desire for good to triumph. Hemingway believed in hard work, ritual, and was a bit of a mystic, according to Griffin.

With thanks to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, Illinois, especially board members Virginia Cassin and Redd Griffin. Soon after we filmed this interview Mr. Griffin died. We dedicate this interview in his memory.

It was a hot summer day in the village of Oak Park, on the western edge of Chicago. We sat on the front porch of Hemingway’s boyhood home when a group of tourists from Korea came up the stairs, thrilled to see a Hemingway actor waiting to greet them. George smiled and accepted his role, and willingly posed for pictures with each of them.

Hemingway in Normandy 1944

The Hemingway home library, featuring its influential storytellers.

Hemingway loved to hunt and fish in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Ernest was always an adventurer
In the 'Green Hills of Africa,' probably in 1933. When he returned to Africa nearly 20 years later several spectacular accidents nearly claimed his life, and did plague his health for the rest of his life.

The Torrents of Spring - 1926
The Sun Also Rises - 1926
A Farewell to Arms - 1929
To Have and Have Not - 1937
For Whom the Bell Tolls - 1940
Across the River and into the Trees - 1950
The Old Man and the Sea - 1952
Islands in the Stream - 1970
The Garden of Eden - 1986
True at First Light - 1999
Death in the Afternoon - 1932
Green Hills of Africa - 1935

Hemingway, The Wild Years - 1962
A Moveable Feast - 1964
By-Line: Ernest Hemingway - 1967
Ernest Hemingway: Cub Reporter - 1970
The Dangerous Summer - 1985
Dateline: Toronto - 1985
Under Kilimanjaro - 2005

Selected Short Story Collections

In Our Time - 1925
Men Without Women - 1927
Winner Take Nothing - 1933
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories - 1938
The Nick Adams Stories - 1972

Pulitzer Prize (Old Man and the Sea), 1953
American Acadamy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit, 1954
Nobel Prize in Literature, 1954
Top Reporter of the Last One Hundred Years, Kansas City Star, 1999

Hemingway also won a Silver Medal of Military Valor from the Italian Army in WWI, and a Bronze Star from the USAF in WWII.

Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1952

Ernest with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway. They were wed from 1946 until his death in 1961.

Hemingway as 'Kid Balzac' painted by Waldo Peirce in 1929, Key West

Ernest and cat in his Ketchum Idaho kitchen, where he committed suicide.

The Hemingway House, Oak Park

Virginia Cassin

Redd Griffin