On this day, 61 years ago, Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny the influence this man has had on literature and beyond. He was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois and he tragically committed suicide on July 2, 1961. Here are some interesting facts that about Hemingway that you may not have known.
- When his favourite bar moved locations, Hemingway took a urinal from the bar to his Key West home because he claimed he had already ‘pissed away’ so much money into the urinal that he practically owned it . He converted it into a garden foundation that still stands today.
- Related, Hemingway loved cats. That garden fountain he created from the urinal served as a drinking spot for the ground’s cats. He had a six-toed cat named Snowball and it’s rumored that the remaining six-toed cats on the grounds today are descendants from Snowball.
- He’s the Chuck Norris of authors. He survived two plane crashes (on consecutive days) a ruptured kidney, skin cancer, hepatitis, anthrax, malaria, diabetes, a ruptured spleen, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull and a ruptured liver in his life time. The only thing that could kill Hemingway was himself, which he did with his favourite shotgun that he purchased at Abercromie and Fitch.
- He served in WWI as an ambulance driver. His novel, Farewell to Arms, is a semi-autobiographical account of his time there. He actually wanted to fight as a solider but was denied due to his bad eye-sight.
- For my Canadian readers, in 1919, after returning from WWI, he accepted a job in Toronto and wrote for the Toronto Star.
- During his 62 years of life, he was married 4 times and divorced 3 times.
- He once examined F. Scott Fitzgerald’s penis after a discussion he had with Zelda Fitzgerald in which she claimed that size of a man’s penis couldn’t make any woman happy. Hemingway reportedly said that Fitzgerald was of ‘normal’ size.
- He was a KGB spy. He grew paranoid in his last few years of life and believed that FBI was spying on him. He took the cover name of “Argo”. He didn’t end up being all the helpful to the KGB, but the FBI was indeed watching him, Edgard Hoover personally placed him under surveillance.
Random fact: There is an Ernest Hemingway look-a-like society: http://www.hemingwaylookalikes.com/