The US writer, Ernest Hemingway, shot himself today in 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Ohio. His wife issued a statement claiming that his death was accidental, but he had been suffering from depression and it is generally assumed that he committed suicide – as did his father, brother, sister and granddaughter.
Ernest was born in Chicago in 1899. He had an eventful life. Whilst working as an ambulance driver in World War One (pictured right in 1918), on 8 July 1918 he was seriously wounded by mortar fire, having just returned from the canteen bringing chocolate and cigarettes for the men at the front line.
Despite his wounds, Hemingway assisted Italian soldiers to safety, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. He sustained severe shrapnel wounds to both legs, underwent an immediate operation at a distribution centre and spent five days at a field hospital before he was transferred for recuperation to the Red Cross Hospital in Milan. He spent six months at the hospital, where he met and formed a strong friendship with “Chink” Dorman-Smith that lasted for decades and shared a room with future American Foreign Service officer, ambassador and author, Henry Serrano Villard.
While recuperating, he fell in love, for the first time, with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senior. By the time of his release and return to the United States in January 1919, Agnes and Hemingway had decided to marry within a few months in America. However, in March, she wrote that she had become engaged to an Italian officer. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers claims that Hemingway was devastated by Agnes’ rejection and he followed a pattern of abandoning a wife before she abandoned him in future relationships.
He was also a war correspondent in the Spanish Civil War and World War Two. Marrying four times, he developed a reputation as a drinker and brawler and had a passion for bullfighting. His writing career began in journalism and progressed through short stories and novels before he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and the ultimate accolade, the Novel Prize for Literature, in 1954. His best known works include For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952).
Almost exactly 35 years after Hemingway’s death, on 1 July 1996, his granddaughter Margaux Hemingway died in Santa Monica, California. Margaux was a supermodel and actress, co-starring with her sister Mariel in the 1976 movie Lipstick. Her death was later ruled a suicide, making her the fifth person in four generations of her family to commit suicide.