July 21, 2023
Born July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois, along with five siblings. After high school, where he wrote for both the school paper and the yearbook, he began his writing career in 1917 in Kansas City as a reporter for the Kansas City Star. The 18-year-old’s beats included the 15th Street police station, Union Station, and the General Hospital.
He left Kansas City in 1917 to enlist as an ambulance driver on the Italian Front for the American Red Cross. In 1918 he was wounded by mortar fire at Fossalta di Piave, and wrote to the Star, giving an account of the removal of 200+ shell fragments from his body.
Although this first stay in Kansas City would be brief (from October 1917 to 1918), Hemingway would return to the area intermittently. In 1928, Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, came back to Kansas City for the birth of their son, Patrick. While in Kansas City, Hemingway wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms. The couple returned in 1931 for the birth of their second child (Hemingway’s third), Gloria. Hemingway’s last known visit to Kansas City was in 1940, after the release of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
For me one of my first forays into the works of Hemingway was on the tour of his house and property in Key West, Florida. The residency, known as the Hemingway Home, is a very beautiful seaside home complete with a separate writing loft, a massive pool, and spacious grounds. It’s easy to see why Hemingway spent as much time there, more than anywhere else in the United States. During a house tour, you can see some of his correspondence with the Kansas City Star on display.
Hemingway referred to Kansas City in several of his novels. The City of Fountains makes an appearance in A Farewell to Arms, A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Death in the Afternoon, and Across the River and into the Trees.
Despite all the Kansas City references in his work, we don’t advise you to take Hemingway’s writing advice literally: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." If you need assistance with your own writing projects, be sure and check out The Story Center for writing workshops, storytelling certification, Printing Press, and Local Authors’ Collection. Who knows? You might become the next big author!
If you’re looking for more interesting facts about Hemingway, check out these other resources:
The Fold3 database gives you some photographic evidence of the author from the covers of Time, Life and even Sports Magazines, and his service times in the military.
Gale in Context: Biography provides the facts of Hemingway’s life, along with images, video, magazine articles, and links to other resources.
Over 400 Newspapers nationwide covered the notice of Ernest Hemingway’s untimely death. Check out Newspapers.com to read about what nearly every state knew about Hemingway’s legacy and passing in July 1961.
Hemingway at Eighteen, the Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend, by Kansas City Star writer and editor Steven Paul, presents an account of a cub reporter experiencing “a compressed, streetwise alternative to a college education….”
Red Bridge Branch