Ernest Hemingway: A Cultural Icon

Ernest Hemingway was a man of many talents. He was a renowned writer of the early 20th century and sportsmen where he took to the high seas to fish and was an avid beardsman and consistent polysyndetic writer.

Hemingway influenced and revolutionized 20th century literature with his simplistic style. His lifestyle is equally as famous as his literature. Hemingway was an imposing figure of the 20th century and a true legend.

He’s part of the Lost Generation of writers, post World War I. He credits himself amongst equally famous writers such as Aldous Huxley, F. Scott Fitzerald, William Faulkner and James Joyce to name a few. He was born at the turn of the century in 1899. Hemingway lived life to the fullest and is our famous beardsman of the month.

Pursuits of the Man

Like many greats before and after him, Hemingway was a journalist before he became a novelist. His early life set the stage for his future pursuits. Hemingway excelled in English and his father took him hunting and fishing, which fostered a love for the outdoors. His early years were pre-beard Hemingway years, and they were equally as compelling as the rest of his life.

In 1918 he signed up to be an ambulance driver in Italy. It was during this time that the foundation for his writings and outlook on life and adventure would really take hold. One such quote demonstrates Hemingway’s inclinations and feelings of war, “When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you … Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you.

It was also during this time that he met and fell in love with a nurse eight years his senior. Agnes von Kurowsky, had promised him that they would marry within a few months when Hemingway returned home to America.

Unfortunately for Hemingway, she’d eventually write to him telling him of her engagement to an Italian officer. The first major heartbreak. Hemingway was distraught by her rejection. The character Catherine Barkley was inspired by Agnes in A Farewell to Arms. Like any great author, he used his heartbreak and real life experiences to inspire his writing.

Hemingway would be married four times during his life, eventually leaving a wife before she could abandon him. Cold, but cool Hemingway, not letting anything get in his way.

Returning from War a Man

Many events transpired after Hemingway returned from war. Again, he was inspired to write another work about his experiences of returning to regular life. His pursuits would eventually lead him to living in Paris with his first wife, Hadley Richardson another women eight years his senior. We won’t get into all of Hemingway’s wives, there’s actually a book written about them.

Hemingway Typewriter.jpg
“Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey.” 

It was also during the roaring 20s that Hemingway was rocking the stache. Before he was an established beardsmen in which all prospective writers and fans know him for today, he was a mustachio man.

The next twenty years leading up to World War II would find Hemingway living in various locales from Cuba to Wyoming, Michigan, Spain and Key West. He would go on hunting expeditions, write short stories, novels, and act as a war correspondent. Hemingway was the quintessential man’s man of the 20th century.

Hemingway’s Famed Exploits

If you didn’t know already, Hemingway was a heavy drinker. Drunk write, sober edit… er edit drunk write sober.. No! Write Drunk, edit sober. There we go. The idea behind that can be taken both literally and figuratively. Let the ideas flow without inhibition and let your Dionysian spirit take hold, then revise for order and stricter meaning.

Hemingway was a phenomenal writer and separating him between his written work and lifestyle is hard to do.

Hemingway drank and ran it up with maddest of them all. When he and James Joyce would drink together, they’d go off on drawn-out binge drinking sessions. When Joyce would get into a fight at the bar, he’d call Hemingway to back him up. Broad, tall and ready to pack a punch, Hemingway used his athleticism to throw down. He was also an acquaintance with Pablo Picasso and other Parisian residents.

Hemingway Drink.jpg

During World War II, Hemingway was a war correspondent and present for the Normandy landings. Legend has it that he liberated the Ritz in Paris. While this turned out to be false, he did lead a band of a small militia into action. He received a Bronze Star for his efforts.

We also can’t forget his time looking for Nazi U-Boats in the Caribbean sea. Armed with a machine gun, couple of grenades and group of guys he spent a few years patrolling the seas as he lived on the island.

A Life of Glory

Hemingway survived both World Wars, a couple plane crashes, numerous bar fights and car accidents on top of heavy drinking sessions with the boys. Conversely, the only thing that could take down Hemingway was himself.

His final years were wrought with hardship, but he left a pure devastation of madness in his wake. In the last years of his life, he became more paranoid that the FBI was following him. which it turned out they were. He was a friend to the Cuban government and if you know anything about that era.. well you know the story, that sure was a time of political upheaval.


Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature in the 1950s and continued to gain more battle wounds throughout the rest of his life. His killer beard was with him all the way. There are even Hemingway contests to this day that compete to see who looks most like the famed author.

It was a life and beard well-lived. We tip our hats to the mythological writer who could truly say he lived every step of the way by his own accord.

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