Today is the 115th birthday of writer Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899).
On his 26th birthday, he began his first novel. He said, “Everybody my age had written a novel and I was still having a difficult time writing a paragraph.” He wrote in hotels and bars in Madrid and the French town of Hendaye, and in an apartment in Paris. He finished the first draft just two months after he had begun writing. He told a friend years later: “Toward the last it was like a fever. Toward the last I was sprinting, like in a bicycle race, and I did not want to lose my speed making love or anything else.”
This novel, titled Fiesta, then revised to The Lost Generation, and finally to The Sun Also Riseswas published in 1926.
His mother wrote to him: “It is a doubtful honor to produce one of the filthiest books of the year. […] Every page fills me with a sick loathing — if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more — but pitch it in the fire.”
For Hemingway’s second novel, A Farewell To Arms (1929), his editor had a conference with Scribner to discuss Hemingway’s use of four-letter words. In the end, three words were not included in A Farewell to Arms, but replaced by dashes.
Hemingway wrote those words back in by hand on a couple of copies, including one that he gave to James Joyce.
A Farewell to Arms became a best-seller, selling 100,000 copies in its first year, and Hemingway was able to make a living writing fiction.
“Ernest Hemingway, Paris, 1924" by Not specified, owned by John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston - John F. Kennedy Library, Ernest Hemingway Collection, direct link to photo here. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.