Ernest Hemingway was born in July on the cusp of the 20th century, and the summer month would prove to be a pivotal time for the writer throughout his life. Here are some key July moments in the Hemingway timeline:
July 21, 1899 – Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a middle-class Chicago suburb where he spent the first 18 years of his life. He
spent his early childhood years in a grand turreted, Queen Anne-style home, now a shrine to the scribe and operated in conjunction with the nearby Ernest Hemingway Museum.
July 1918 – While driving an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian front lines during World War I, 18-year-old Hemingway was seriously
wounded by mortar fire. His shrapnel wounds were tended to by a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, with whom he fell in love. Their relationship inspired his novel about a doomed wartime romance, A Farewell to Arms. Agnes’ rejection letter to the brave warrior is on display at the Ernest Hemingway Museum.
July 1923 – The insatiable traveler attended his first bullfight during Pamplona’s legendary running of the bulls, returning nearly every year for the rest of the decade to witness the death-defying spectacle. His Spanish sojourns inspired his 1925 novel The Sun Also Rises, which takes place during the annual Fiesta of San Fermin and follows a dissolute band of expats who spend their days drinking brandy and absinthe at Café Iruna.
July 1937 – At the White House, Hemingway attended a viewing of the film The Spanish Earth with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. He had become outspoken against anti-fascism after covering the Spanish Civil War for a North American newspaper and co-wrote and narrated the documentary shown to the president. The event was a fundraiser for ambulances for the Loyalist forces fighting Franco.
July 1940 – The famous scribe wrapped up For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was published three months later and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He penned the tale in various locations, including Idaho, where he occupied the Parlor Suite (number 206) at the Sun Valley Lodge. He dubbed the room “Glamour House” and posed there next to his typewriter for the book’s dust jacket photo. Today his picture hangs above the fireplace.
July 1960 – Hemingway left Cuba for the last time after having spent nearly two decades residing on the island, where his refuge was a 13-acre estate overlooking Havana. At La Finca Vigía (Spanish for “lookout farm”), among the works he wrote was The Old Man and the Sea, his Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of man versus marlin.
July 2, 1961 – Suffering from debilitating illness and bouts of depression, Hemingway died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home just west of Ketchum, Idaho, 50 years ago. His two-story chalet overlooking Big Wood River has been preserved by the Nature Conservancy and is open to the public only on special occasions.
[Photos © Hemingway Birthplace Home, Cafe Iruna, Sun Valley Lodge, Finca Vigia Foundation]