Quite possibly the most interesting man ever to walk this Earth; Ernest Hemingway was the ultimate character. A war hero, a traveler, a sportsman and one of the true dignitaries of the 20th century literary era, Hemingway always knew how to get to the heart of an issue. He’s remembered as one of the greatest writers ever. Here’s some of his most notable quotes and facts from his fascinating life. Enjoy!
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway has won multiple medals for his wartime efforts? Hemingway operated an ambulance in Italy during World War I, and on July 8, 1918, mortar fire finally called his number—yet he managed to help an Italian soldier reach safety while seriously wounded. The action earned him an Italian Silver Medal of Valor.
NEXT: What other medal was he awarded?
“Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth.”
Although his second medal wasn’t combat-injury related, he was still right in the thick of the action for his second military medal. 30 years after he was injured in Italy, the U.S. awarded him a Bronze Star for courage displayed while covering the European theater in World War II as a journalist. His articles appeared in Collier’s and other magazines.
NEXT: War Crimes?
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only in the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
This quote is evidenced perfectly by Hemingway’s actions during his time as a war correspondent. Did you know Ernest Hemingway was charged with war crimes? Not war crimes of the grotesque variety, but of the honorable kind.
NEXT: See what the war crime was…
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
Shortly after D-Day, Hemingway led a band of Resistance fighters in the French town of Rambouillet on a mission to gather intelligence. The problem was, war correspondents aren’t supposed to lead armed troops, according to the Geneva Convention. His charges were eventually dropped. Of the situation, Hemingway said he, “had a certain amount of knowledge about guerilla warfare …and I was willing and happy to work for or be of use to anybody who would give me anything to do within my capabilities.”
NEXT: A sad, true, and funny story all in one.
“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
He once bet a group of drinking buddies that he could write a 6-word short story that would move them emotionally. They didn’t believe him. He wrote, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn”. I mean, come on! That’s amazing.
NEXT: Words to live by…
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
This Ernest Hemingway quote is one we could all live by. How do you know if you can trust someone until you take a chance and let them prove you right or wrong? So simple, yet so pure.
NEXT: Anyone else have this problem?
“I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast – talk them or write them down.”
Did you know that at one point in time, Ernest Hemingway almost died in back to back plane crashes? In 1954, Hemingway was traveling in the Belgian Congo when their sightseeing charter flight clipped a pole and crashed. There was minor injuries, but what happened next is even wilder…
NEXT: Most people thought he was dead.
“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
When attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe following the crash, Hemingway and his wife boarded another plane. This plane crashed on takeoff! The accident left Hemingway with burns, a concussion, and his brain leaking cerebral fluid. Not a good scene. When they finally got to Entebbe (by truck), they found journalists had already reported their death. Hemingway read his own obituary in Entebbe!
NEXT: What happens in Paris stays in Paris. Until you go back for it…
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”
One of Hemingway’s most acclaimed works, A Moveable Feast, only exists because he once left a suitcase in Paris, France. Hemingway wrote the book later in life after he stayed at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1956. While there, he was reminded that he’d left a steamer trunk (made for him by Louis Vuitton) in the hotel’s basement in 1930. 26 years prior!
NEXT: What was in the trunk, and why did it lead to him writing a book?
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
When he opened it, he rediscovered personal letters, menus, outdoor gear, and two stacks of notebooks that became the basis for the memoir of his youth in Paris’s café culture.
NEXT: Truer words were never spoken…
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
Hemingway was married four times. And it appears he actually meant it each time. He has dedicated four separate books of his to four of his wives. How special…
NEXT: War is a crazy place…
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”
Hemingway participated in the Spanish Civil War and took part in the D-Day landings during the invasion of France during World War II. In one instance, he threw three hand grenades into a bunker, killing several SS officers. He was decorated with the Bronze Star for his actions.
NEXT: A bit of a drinker, as well…
“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.”
Hemingway once turned a toilet into a faucet. His favorite bar in Key West (a city he was a regular in) was Sloppy Joe’s and when they underwent renovations, he silently removed one of the urinals and took it to his house to be turned into a usable faucet. Pretty cool.
NEXT: He did what when we was three years old?!
“I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
He was a noted sportsman, but did you know Hemingway started hunting at a very early age? At just three years old he killed a porcupine, at his father’s behest. He finished the job by eating it. Well done.
NEXT: He’s got a good point in the next quote.
“All things truly wicked start from innocence.”
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway was one of six siblings? He was the 2nd child in the Hemingway family.
NEXT: He’s got a good point in the next quote.
“Tif we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”
The prolific writer penned 7 novels, 6 short story collections, 2 non-fiction books and just about all of them being remarkable contributions in the history of literature.
NEXT: His writings about war are always so accurate.
“In modern war…you will die like a dog for no good reason.”
His famous last words? “Goodbye my kitten.” Although he had a noted affinity for cats – this was spoken to his fourth wife, Mary.
NEXT: Another great wartime quote.
“Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.”
Before becoming a famous novel writer, Ernest Hemingway honed his skills first as a journalist at ‘Kansas City Star’ as a “cub reporter” at the young age of 18.
NEXT: It’s not all about war – he’s got good love words as well.
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”
Ernest really didn’t like ‘Ernest’. He despised his first name. Which is why he began introducing himself as “Papa”. Papa Hemingway!
NEXT: It’s no wonder he was attracted to storytelling.
“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”
His mother wanted a girl, badly. Grace, his mother, was an overbearing one. Little did she know that she gave birth to one of the important figures in literature.
NEXT: How do you write a funny book?
“A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”
His mother was so upset as Ernest’s manhood that she dressed Ernest in cute, floral dresses just so he could look like a little girl. She even called him “Ernestine”. Bit odd…
NEXT: He’s got a good point about that, whether you like it or not….
“An intelligent man in sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”
As if failing from birth wasn’t enough – Ernest’s mother wanted him to focus on becoming a good cellist. That wasn’t going to work, however. In the words of Ernest Hemingway, “That cello – I played it worse than anyone on earth.”
NEXT: Maybe a little too philosophical for us…
“There’s no one thing that is true. They’re all true.”
During his stint as an ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War I – it was Ernest’s job to pick up human remains from the battle.
NEXT: Now that is the golden rule of advice right there.
“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”
Ernest Hemingway really did want to fight in World War I – but he was denied due to his poor eyesight. Blessing in disguise?
NEXT: Always the apprentice, never the master.
“We’re all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
His favourite shotgun was purchased from Abercrombie & Fitch. Which as we all know, no longer sells anything remotely resembling a shotgun.
“I love sleep My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
Speaking of his love for cats, he seemed to like a particular type. Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats. Polydactyl cats are those having 6 or more toes on each foot. So that’s interesting.
NEXT: That will do the trick.
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”
He ended up taking care of over 50 cats in his lifetime! His first was named “Snowball”…
NEXT: Ernest Hemingway also made one heck of a listener, apparently…
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
In 1938, Ernest Hemingway set a world record by catching 7 marlins in a day!
NEXT: Fortune favors the bold.
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
He utilized the “stand-up desk” far before it become popular in modern culture! ‘Papa’ penned his works in his bedroom while standing up! He spent hours a day on his feet.
NEXT: Movement and action, aren’t the same thing.
“Never confuse movement with action.”
He wrote so much that he used 7 pencils a day to write his novels. After a day of good work, he would’ve used at least 7 pencils to create his masterpieces! That’s a lot of writing for one day.
NEXT: Ernest Hemingway was a legend!
“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”
Crazy fact, one time he killed 400 jackrabbits in one day. 400! In one day!
NEXT: Don’t we all, Ernest?
“I can’t stand to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
He once fist-fought Orson Welles. Orson Welles was narrating Ernest’s film in a sarcastic way, which Ernest obviously didn’t love… The author was so furious about it that he got into a fistfight with Welles. The good news is that their fight ended with a big laugh. They became good friends after this bickering.
NEXT: Did you know he was personal friends with Fidel Castro?
“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.”
He was clearly meant to be alive for every bit of his 61 years. In his lifetime, he survived a great number of illnesses including malaria, anthrax, pneumonia, a ruptured kidney, a ruptured liver, a fractured skull, a crushed vertebra, skin cancer, and hepatitis. Ernest even survived 3 car crashes, not to mention those 2 plane crashes within 2 days too!
NEXT: Hemingway did not believe that old men grew wise. So what did he think, then?
“No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.”
While most authors would be glad to write films, Ernest Hemingway refused to write for movies. However, he did not object to his work being put on film.
NEXT: That one hurts.
“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye – that was the trouble – I wanted to kiss you good night – and there’s a lot of difference.”
The originator of the “Black Dog Days” – Ernest was a famous case of depression. What he did to treat his depression is pretty crazy.
NEXT: Find out how he tried to treat his depression.
“Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”
In a deliberate effort to treat Ernest Hemingway’s depression, he received electroconvulsive shock treatment up to 15 times in December 1960! Unfortunately it didn’t work, but it did leave him with some memory loss.
NEXT: The Panama Jack look coming in hot on the next one…
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
Ernest’s favorite meal was a New York strip steak, Caesar salad, a baked potato, and a hefty glass of Bordeaux.
NEXT: Ernest Hemingway went bankrupt?
“How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
Both Ernest Hemingway and his father died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. Odd and sad, but interesting.
NEXT: What a legend!