Born on July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway was a titan of the 20th century literature accused to be a Stalin-era KGB agent (revealed in a 2009 book) who went by the codename “Argo.”
Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, and on July 8, 1918, he was badly wounded by mortar fire. The action earned him an Italian Silver Medal of Valor. That honor was paralleled almost 30 years later when the U.S. awarded him a Bronze Star for courage displayed while covering the European theater in World War II as a journalist.
Each time he got divorced, Hemingway was married again within the year—but he always left something behind in writings as dedication. The dedication for The Sun Also Rises went to his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson; Death in the Afternoon was dedicated to second wife Pauline Pfeiffer; For Whom the Bell Tolls was for third wife Martha Gellhorn; and Across the River and Into the Trees went “To Mary with Love.”
In 1951, Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea, which would become perhaps his most famous book, finally winning him the Pulitzer Prize he had long been denied.
The author continued his forays into Africa and sustained several injuries during his adventures, even surviving multiple plane crashes. He wrote A Moveable Feast, a memoir of his years in Paris, and retired permanently to Idaho. There he continued to battle with deteriorating mental and physical health. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Even at this peak of his literary career, though, the burly Hemingway’s body and mind were beginning to betray him. Recovering from various old injuries in Cuba, Hemingway suffered from depression and was treated for numerous conditions such as high blood pressure and liver disease. Early on the morning of July 2, 1961, Hemingway committed suicide in his Ketchum home.
Hemingway left behind an impressive body of work and an iconic style that still influences writers today. His personality and constant pursuit of adventure were as large as his writings.