American Masters -- PRAIRIE TO PARIS -- Exploring the Worlds of MY ANTONIA and THE SUN ALSO RISES
Prairie Paris About the Project
To learn more about Ernest Hemingway, visit the AMERICAN MASTERS site ERNEST HEMINGWAY: RIVERS TO THE SEA

On July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho, a 61-year-old man committed suicide, dying the way he lived: big. His name was Ernest Hemingway; who he was and what he accomplished are seamlessly woven into the great American literary tradition of today. There was more to the man, however, than his pen.

He was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899, and started writing professionally at the age of 18. His adventures in Europe began when he became a volunteer ambulance driver during World War I. Like his famed character Jake Barnes, he was wounded on the front and returned home.

In 1921 he moved to Paris, where he kept company with the group known as the Lost Generation (Ford Madox Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein). Five years later, he was catapulted into the international spotlight. THE SUN ALSO RISES exemplified the new -- lost -- generation of American writers who struggled to find their voices and make their mark on the elite literary landscape.

Throughout his writing career, Hemingway published 16 novels and works of non-fiction (six posthumously) and 11 short story collections (three posthumously), finally winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.

When he wasn't writing, the famous American expatriate was living his life as passionately and fully as he could. His travels took him to Spain, where he became a bullfighting aficionado and a reporter during the Spanish Civil War; to Italy, where he served during World War I; to Africa, where he pursued big game hunting; and to Cuba, where he was affectionately dubbed "Papa Ernesto."

Although Cuba was the place he called home, he was forced to return to the United States due to the political climate of the times. His exile from the country he loved brought on a deep and enduring depression to which, sadly, he ultimately succumbed.

Today, "Papa Ernesto" and his writing are studied in classrooms around the world. He brought the American literary world to its feet and redefined the American experience on paper. Without a doubt, his work will continue to stand the test of time.


Hemingway in an Italian hospital

PRAIRIE TO PARIS American Masters