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Daily History

March 4 1952 Ernest Hemingway Completes The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway

On March 4th 1952, Ernest Hemingway completed his short novel The Old Man and the Sea. He wrote his publisher the same day, saying he had finished the book and that it was the best writing he had ever done. The critics agreed: the book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and became one of his best selling works.

The novella, which was first published in Life magazine, was an allegory referring to the writer’s own struggles to preserve his art in the face of fame and attention. Hemingway had become a cult figure whose four marriages and adventurous exploits in big-game hunting and fishing were widely covered in the press. But despite his fame, he had not produced a major literary work in a decade before he wrote The Old Man and the Sea. The book would be his last significant work of fiction before his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway, born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, started working as a reporter for the Kansas City Star in 1917. When World War I broke out, he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross and was severely wounded in 1918 on the Austro-Italian front while carrying a companion to safety. He was decorated and sent home to recuperate.

Hemingway married the wealthy Hadley Richardson in 1920, and the couple moved to Paris, where they met other American expatriate writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. With their help and encouragement, Hemingway published his first book of short stories, in the U.S. in 1925, followed by the well-received The Sun Also Rises in 1926.

During the 1930s and 40s, the hard-drinking Hemingway lived in Key West and then in Cuba while continuing to travel widely. He was wounded in a plane crash in 1953, after which he became increasingly anxious and depressed. Like his father, he committed suicide, shooting himself in 1961 in his home in Idaho.

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20 thoughts on “March 4 1952 Ernest Hemingway Completes The Old Man and the Sea

  1. Interesting post Craig, about an interesting man.

    Posted by Bob W Cain | March 4, 2012, 00:10
  2. Craig, so glad you posted this piece, today of all days. As you have seen on my blog I have been to Key West and took a tour of his home. What a great man, newsman, author and decorated patriot. Coincidentally, I am about to read “A Moveable Feast.” Thanks for marking this auspicious point in time. Sad, tho, he committed suicide. 😦

    Posted by Sheila T Illustrated | March 4, 2012, 00:19
  3. nice post!


    Posted by aawwa | March 4, 2012, 11:46
  4. Very Interesting! I really enjoyed reading this!

    Posted by Randy Duckworth | March 4, 2012, 20:37
  5. This is a good article. Although Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is one of my favorite books, I did not realize that it won a Pulitzer Prize. Personally, I thought his best work was between “For Whom the Bells Tolls” and “Old Man and the Sea”. You also have to admire the gumption of a person that finishes writing a book, and on the same day, while handing it over to his publisher announces that it is his best work so far. Indeed, he was one of a kind. With that being said, “The Old Man and the Sea” is really a great read. 🙂

    Posted by mulrickillion | March 4, 2012, 21:50
    • And the fact that he was right with his statement makes him all the more interesting. I hate to think of the amount of times I have handed what I thought to be a good story to my editor, only to have it edited to such an extent to hardly be the same as when I wrote it.

      Posted by Craig Hill | March 4, 2012, 22:03
      • Hey, “edit” is a bad word to me, and I don’t use it in mixed company. 🙂
        Otherwise, maybe I now understand the rumors about scotch whiskey and a poem. 🙂
        But, this was a great post!

        Posted by mulrickillion | March 4, 2012, 22:14
      • My partners have proved to be the best proof readers it is possible to have. Like in all aspects of life, she will find every single mistake I make. 🙂

        Posted by Craig Hill | March 4, 2012, 22:22
  6. This is a favorite book and play for me. It recalls life in simpler times when individual responsibility and strength of character were valued much more than today. Thank you.

    Posted by --Rick | March 6, 2012, 16:00
  7. Reblogged this on lisparc.

    Posted by lisparc | March 6, 2012, 20:54

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