The Hemingway You Didn’t Know

Hemingway is a survival game where players drop from planes into jungles and deserts. Players must hunt, forage, craft items, build shelters, and fight off animals like wolves or bears with only their fists to protect themselves. The goal of the game is to last as long as possible before being killed by an animal or succumbing to hunger/thirst.

The “ernest hemingway death” is the most common question that people ask. It is not a fact that Ernest Hemingway died in 1961, but rather the date of his death was July 2nd.

Old Ernest Hemingway's portrait.

“Action should never be confused with movement.”

Ernest Hemingway is still a powerful force in the literary world over fifty years after his death. His novels and short stories sell in the millions of copies each year, and some of his 27 volumes and 50+ short tales are regarded classics of American literature. Even the best works of fiction, on the other hand, pale in contrast to Papa Hemingway’s actual life. His achievements are legendary: Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner, Bronze Star laureate, world-class sports fisherman, large game hunter, boxer, bullfighting fanatic, war correspondent…the list goes on and on. Let’s leave literary critique to the experts and instead look at the incredible life of the guy himself.

It is important to highlight that Hemingway was not always a gentleman, a decent parent, or a good model of masculinity, and no attempt will be made here to whitewash history. Despite his shortcomings, he symbolizes a masculine mystery that effortlessly catches the imagination. His life was full of the spectacular experiences that many young boys and older men fantasize about.

Hemingway the Sportsman is a fictional character created by Ernest Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway shaking hand with sailor after catching blue marlin fish.

Hemingway was an experienced outdoorsman who might be seen hunting a lion through the tall grass of Africa or cruise the Gulf Stream in quest of marlin and tuna. Hemingway was a skilled hunter who had learnt to use a rifle at an early age. His passion for hunting ranged from pheasant and duck shooting in the West to big game safaris in East Africa. Hemingway went hunting in Africa with P.H. Percival, a guide who had earlier gone hunting with another great hunter, Teddy Roosevelt. Hemingway’s enthusiasm for safari was palpable as he began preparing his second large hunt in 1954:

There’s the thrill of a first adventure when returning to Africa after all this time. I like Africa and consider it a second home, and every time a guy feels that way, regardless of where he was born, is where he’s supposed to be.

During this second trip, Hemingway developed into a seasoned hunter. The local game warden even appointed him as an honorary game ranger and placed him in command of the territory in which he was stationed. Hemingway like his job and spent much of his days helping local farmers deal with problem lions and elephants.

While Hemingway enjoyed hunting, he was most successful when he had a rod in his hand. In 1935, Hemingway famously landed the world’s biggest marlin, weighing an incredible 1175 pounds, off the deck of the Pilar. His greatest achievement, in his opinion, may not have been his literary accomplishments, but rather his prowess with the rod and reel. Hemingway’s son said in an interview a few years ago that his father’s happiest days were always spent onboard the yacht he built himself, steaming through the Gulf Stream in quest of marlin. He managed to win every single organized fishing event held in Key West, Bimini, and Havana during his years in the Caribbean, much to the disgust of the locals.


The Boxer Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway wearing boxing gloves for practice.“My writing is nothing compared to my boxing.”

-In a discussion with Josephine Herbst, Hemingway

Hemingway had been a successful amateur boxer and had studied the sweet science from infancy. Locals in Bimini grew enraged at his ability to better fish seas they had fished their whole lives after one of his triumphs in a fishing contest there. He saw an opportunity to merge his two loves and gave the villagers the chance to reclaim their money. The rules were simple: go toe-to-toe in the ring with old Papa for three rounds, win, and the money was theirs. The first adversary, a guy who was said to be able to “carry a piano on his head,” made it barely a minute and a half before Hemingway, 35, threw him out. The following three competitors met the same fate, and Ernest was able to walk away with his prize money.

Hemingway’s enthusiasm for boxing surpassed all of his other interests, and he even erected a boxing ring in the backyard of his Key West house, right next to the pool, so he could spar with visitors. Hemingway spent most of his time in Key West, when he wasn’t writing, boxing, and even officiating contests at the local arena. He once presided over a battle in which one combatant was being brutalized by the other. Every time the warrior was knocked down, he would get back up and absorb more punishment. The boxer’s manager, “Shine” Forbes, had had enough of witnessing his client being humiliated and had thrown in the towel. Imagine his amazement when the referee grabbed the towel and tossed it out the ring! Shine attempted to quit the match by tossing in the towel two more times, but the official tossed it back in his face on the last effort, sending Shine over the brink. He climbed through the ropes and punched the referee in the face, thereby ending the contest. Later that night, he learned that the ref he had punched was none other than Ernest Hemingway, a local legend and globally renowned novelist. Shine went to Hemingway’s house to apologize, and was received by a smiling Hemingway, who, unconcerned about the punch thrown at him, invited Shine and his companions to fight in his own ring. Hemingway formed a connection with Shine and had him and his pals scrap for his enjoyment at parties, passing a hat around afterwards to collect money for the young combatants.

Hemingway’s passion for the sport spilled over into his writing. During his time in Paris, he was noted for employing boxing metaphors in interviews and for trying to teach poet Ezra Pound to box. Several of his short pieces, including Fifty Grand and The Battler, and the book The Sun Also Rises, demonstrate his passion for the sport.


The Storyteller, Ernest Hemingway

It’s no secret that Hemingway could spin a fantastic story on a typewriter, as shown by the New York Times Book Assessment’s enthusiastic review of Across the River and into the Trees, which called him “the most significant novelist since Shakespeare.” Hemingway, though, was more than a terrific storyteller on paper. His stories enthralled everyone within hearing, and they were usually so magnificent and full of crazy anecdotes that those who listened were often left wondering whether one guy could could have experienced so much in a single lifetime. Indeed, many of his stories appeared to push the facts a bit too far. And yet, as his close friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner put it, he told his stories so persuasively that even the most unbelievable tales appeared plausible. He once told Hotchner a story when they were sitting at an old Paris pub that Hemingway frequented:

“This was one of the only decent, solid bars back in the day, and there was an ex-pug who used to come in with a pet lion.” He’d take a seat in the bar, and the lion would take a seat next him. He was a pretty pleasant lion with decent manners – no growls or roars – although he did spit on the floor every now and again, like lions do. This, of course, had a negative impact on the trade, and Harry begged the ex-pug to stop bringing the lion around as kindly as he could. But the pug came back with the lion the following day, the lion dropped another load, the drinkers departed, and Harry made the request once again. The third day was the same. When the lion let go this time, I walked over, scooped up the pug, who had been a welterweight, brought him outside, and flung him on the street, realizing it was do or death for poor Harry’s business. Then I returned and grabbed the lion’s mane, dragging him out of the room. The lion gave me a glance on the pavement, but he walked away gently.” –Papa Ernest Hemingway

Hotchner accepts this and other accounts without doubt in Hemingway’s book, saying that whenever he questioned the reality of a narrative, Hemingway would offer pictures or other supporting proof to back up his assertions.

The Nazi Submarine Hunter, Hemingway

It’s right, you read that correctly. During World War II, Ernest Hemingway disguised his 38-foot fishing boat Pilar as a Nazi submarine hunting ship for over a year. Hemingway equipped the Pilar with heavy artillery and small guns while keeping the external appearance of a typical fishing schooner, working with the Havana section of the US Office of Naval Intelligence. He crammed the Pilar with pals who wanted to be a part of the operation, and they patrolled the seas around Cuba every day. The plan was to disguise themselves as a typical fishing boat in the hopes that a Nazi submarine would emerge and try to board them. The US military deployed similar methods on a regular basis, dubbed Q-Ships, in an effort to bring Nazi submarines to the surface. The Q-Ships would immediately reveal their secret weapons whenever a submarine emerged, hopefully sinking it. The FBI eventually took over Caribbean counter-espionage, and although the Pilar and her crew never fired on an enemy submarine, it was nevertheless a thrilling journey.


The War Hero Hemingway

Young Ernest Hemingway's portrait in uniform.

Hemingway worked with the Red Cross on the Italian Front during World War I as a young man. He had intended to enroll in the Army, but his bad vision prevented him from doing so, forcing him to work for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver instead. Hemingway was critically injured not long after landing on the Italian Front. He was wounded by trench mortar fire while giving chocolates and cigarettes to troops on the front lines, leaving almost 200 shrapnel pieces in his leg and nearly damaging his knee. Despite this horrific injury, Hemingway managed to take another wounded soldier to safety after stuffing cigarettes into his own wounds to momentarily stem the bleeding. For his brave acts that day, Hemingway was to earn the Silver Medal of Military Valor from the Italian government.

Hemingway returned to Europe much later in life, after his experiences as a Nazi submarine hunter, to cover World War II as a war journalist. Hemingway was no stranger to combat, having served in the Royal Air Force on bombing missions and following army divisions around Europe where the fighting was the most intense. From a landing boat near offshore, he observed the D-Day assault and documented many of the war’s atrocities. In clear contravention of the Geneva Convention’s requirements for war journalists, Hemingway went on to take a far more active part in the conflict he was there to cover, frequently adopting the position of soldier himself. He rushed up to a basement known to be full with German SS and, by throwing in a grenade, threw away his non-combatant status for the rest of the war. In the midst of the turmoil of battle, Hemingway is said to have formed his own unit, which had double the firepower and alcohol rations of all other troops, no doubt due to Papa’s influence. According to Hemingway, he and his unit were the first to reach the city during the Liberating of Paris, retaking the Ritz Hotel, and especially the Ritz Bar, from Nazi authority a full day before the Allied liberation army arrived! The Army eventually accused him with various breaches of his non-combatant status, including pulling off his non-combatant insignia and acting as a colonel in order to lead a French resistance force into battle, according to an examination of his acts during the war. He was also accused of maintaining a virtual arsenal of anti-tank grenades and German bazookas in his own quarters. In response to the charges, Hemingway said that any titles bestowed upon him by the guys were only tokens of love.

“After all, in New England, everyone who possessed a ship was automatically a captain, and in Kentucky, all colonels were born.”

He said he stored the firearms in his quarters “just for the troop’s convenience.” Several high-ranking acquaintances testified on his favor, and he was not only exonerated of all allegations but also given the Bronze Star for Bravery as a combat journalist at the conclusion of the inquiry. Colonel “Buck” Lanham, a close friend and subsequently a Major General, made the following observation:


“He is without a doubt one of the bravest persons I have ever met.” Fear was a foreign concept to him.”

The Survivor: Ernest Hemingway

“Man was not created to lose. “You may ruin a guy, but you can’t beat him.”

–The Story of the Old Man and the Sea

The sheer number of potentially deadly ailments and accidents that Hemingway escaped is maybe the most incredible of all of his achievements. He also had a gunshot wound in his leg, in addition to the fragments left behind from the World War I mortar impact. This was due to a self-inflicted gunshot, which happened as he was attempting to finish off a still thrashing shark he had pulled onboard while shark hunting. While shooting oneself in the leg isn’t the most glamorous thing a guy can do, it seems that if you have to do it, you should do it while shark hunting. Later in life, Hemingway suffered from increasingly serious injuries and illnesses. He survived anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a number of serious injuries in his latter years.

He survived not one, but two aircraft accidents on his final trip in East Africa. The first accident, deep in the Ugandan forests, sparked claims of his death back home, creating a slew of obituaries that Hemingway would later read with pleasure over his morning coffee. Following the accident, he, his wife, and the pilot were forced to camp in the midst of elephant country for the night, which was an adventure in and of itself. The second collision, which occurred just a few days after the first, was even more serious, and Hemingway suffered serious injuries as a consequence. The aircraft ground-looped, finally crashing, when the pilot was forced to conduct an emergency dive to prevent a bird hit. When the aircraft hit the ground, it exploded into flames, prompting Hemingway to open the door and pull his wife and the pilot to safety. He had first-degree burns, internal bleeding, a burst kidney, a ruptured spleen, a ruptured liver, a smashed spine, and a cracked skull when he awoke. Despite the trauma, Hemingway managed a grin for the media who had gathered at his evacuation point, telling them, “My luck, she’s running very well.” Perhaps a little exaggeration. Hemingway was again in action less than a month later, this time getting second-degree burns on his left hand and face while battling a wildfire. All of this happened to him, and he survived to tell the story.

The Legend of Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway's portrait.

Hemingway’s personal experiences served as inspiration for his writing, and much of his life can be observed mirrored in his fiction. In so many of his novels, the male heroes share both his machismo and his secret anguish, yet they always showed elegance under duress. As he said it himself:

“You dull and blunt the tool you write with by traveling where you have to go, doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see.” But I’d rather have it twisted and dulled, knowing I’d have to put it back on the grindstone, hammer it into shape, and put a whetstone to it, knowing I’d have something to write about, than brilliant and shiny with nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet but unused.”


-Introduction to The First 49 Stories

During and after Hemingway’s lifetime, critics attempted to portray him as unduly masculine, alleging that his public demeanor was just a front. It is apparent from reading Ernest Hemingway’s writings and biographies published about him by intimate friends that he was not acting. He was, without a doubt, one of the most honest persons who ever lived. He lived his life to the fullest, never losing out on chances or abandoning his hobbies. Perhaps the actress Marlene Dietrich, a close friend, summed him up best when she told his biographer about his life:

“I believe the most astonishing thing about Ernest is that he has found time to accomplish things that most men can only fantasize about.” He’s got the guts, initiative, time, and pleasure to travel, assimilate it all, write about it, and, in a way, create it. He has a peaceful seasonal cycle in him, with each season passing overland, then returning underground and re-emerging in a rhythm, rejuvenated and full of newfound strength.”

Listen to our podcast on The Sun Also Rises’ true story:



Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir by A. E. Hotchner

American Authors Series (A&E) Wrestling with Life by Ernest Hemingway




Ernest Hemingway was a famous author who wrote in the 1920s and 30s. He is known for his works “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms.” His life story has been well documented, but there are some things you might not know about him. This article will explore those unknown aspects of Hemingway’s life. Reference: ernest hemingway family.

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