About this Famous Person
American author and journalist
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father Clarence Edmonds Hemingway was a physician, and his mother, Grace Hall-Hemingway, was a musician. Both were well educated and well respected in the conservative community of Oak Park. Frank Lloyd Wright, a resident of Oak Park, said of the village: "So many churches for so many good people to go to". When Clarence and Grace Hemingway married in 1896, they moved in with Grace's father, Ernest Hall, after whom they named their first son. Hemingway claimed to dislike his name, which he "associated with the naive, even foolish hero of Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest". The family's seven-bedroom home in a respectable neighborhood contained a music studio for Grace and a medical office for Clarence.
Hemingway's mother frequently performed in concerts around the village. As an adult Hemingway professed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael Reynolds points out that Hemingway mirrored her energy and enthusiasm. Her insistence that he learn to play the cello became a "source of conflict", but he later admitted the music lessons were useful in his writing, as in the "contrapuntal structure" of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The family owned a summer home called Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan, where Hemingway learned to hunt, fish and camp in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan. His early experiences in nature instilled a passion for outdoor adventure, and living in remote or isolated areas.
Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School from 1913 until 1917 where he took part in a number of sports—boxing, track and field, water polo, and football—had good grades in English classes, and he and his sister Marcelline performed in the school orchestra for two years. In his junior year, he took a journalism class, taught by Fannie Biggs, which was structured "as though the classroom were a newspaper office". The better writers in class submitted pieces to the The Trapeze, the school newspaper. Hemingway and his sister Marcelline both had pieces submitted to The Trapeze; Hemingway's first piece, published in January 1916, was about a local performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He continued to contribute to and to edit the Trapeze and the Tabula (the school's newspaper and yearbook), for which he imitated the language of sportswriters, and used the pen name Ring Lardner, Jr.—a nod to Ring Lardner of the Chicago Tribune whose byline was "Line O'Type". Like Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway was a journalist before becoming a novelist; after leaving high school he went to work for The Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. Although he stayed there for only six months he relied on the Star's style guide as a foundation for his writing: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."
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