Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ernest Hemingway's Childhood

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway circa 1905
Ernest Hemingway is one of the most beloved and talented American authors of all time. He was born on July 21, 1899 to Dr. Clarence Hemingway and his wife, Grace Hall Hemingway. Ernest was born in the house that was built by his grandfather on North Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park, Illinois. He had one older sister at the time of his birth and would eventually have three more sisters and one brother.

Ernest grew up in Oak Park, which was a tight knit religious community. Ernest would refer to the town later in life as a place that contained “wide lawns and narrow minds.” His mother taught music to the children in the community and she also taught music to her children. Ernest took voice lessons and learned to play the cello from his mother. However, the influence that Grace Hall Hemingway had on her son was not all good.

Until Ernest was six years old, his mother dressed him and his older sister Marcelline as twins, which they were not. The oddest thing about this behavior was that she would either dress them both as girls or both as boys. Grace was also exempt from doing household chores, which Clarence would take care of for her, despite his work as a doctor. Rumor has it that Grace nagged her husband relentlessly. Ernest apparently blamed his father’s suicide in 1928 on his mother. He said later in life that “My mother is an all time all American *expletive deleted* and she would make a pack mule shoot himself; let alone poor bloody father.”

Ernest’s relationship with his father was quite different from the one he had with his mother. Clarence spent a lot of time teaching his son how to fish and hunt in the Lake Michigan area. The Hemingways spent their summers at Windemere, the family’s summer home. Ernest spent that time fishing and hunting with his father or on his own. His love for the outdoors would continue throughout his life.

Ernest Hemingway attended the Oak Park public schools. He kept notebooks and journals as he got older and by the time he was in high school, it had become obvious that Ernest wanted to be a writer. He wrote for the school’s newspaper, the “Trapeze” and he also wrote for the school’s yearbook, the Tabula. Ernest also played several sports in high school. He wasn’t bad, but he was never a star athlete either. He graduated high school at the age of seventeen.

After Ernest’s graduation his parents expected him to go off to college, but he had different plans. He immediately went to work at the Kansas City Star. That was the start of his long and prolific career as a journalist and an author.

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