Famous Family History Ernest Hemingway Parents

About the family of famous author Ernest Hemingway, history of his father and mother.


American author

His Roots: Grandfather Anson Tyler Hemingway (1844-1926) became a prosperous real estate dealer, settled in Oak Park, Ill., and married Adelaide Edmonds (1841-1923), a schoolteacher. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway (1871-1928), their strapping eldest son, received his medical degree in Chicago, became a general practitioner, and married Grace Hall in 1896; Ernest was their second child. Dr. Hemingway, a strict, quick-tempered disciplinarian, believed in providing busy work for idle hands, in keeping the Sabbath, and in doing things "properly." Describing his own sex education, Ernest wrote that Dr. Ed "summed up the whole matter by stating that masturbation produced blindness, insanity, and death, while a man who went with prostitutes would contract hideous venereal diseases and that the thing to do was to keep your hands off people." The father transmitted to Ernest his macho outdoor skills and love of nature. Prolonged depressions accompanied Dr. Hemingway's physical disorders, and he ended his life with Anson Hemingway's old revolver.

Mother Grace Hall Hemingway (1872-1951) was a large woman whose defective eyesight had interrupted a budding operatic career. Ernest was named after her father, English-born Ernest Hall (1840-1905). Musically talented Grace Hemingway accepted the role of wife and mother as distinctly a second choice. She worked hard to cultivate creativity in her children. While more permissive than her husband with them, she tended to hoard resentments under her rectitude. "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world," was a favorite quotation. A letter to Ernest, then 21, typified her manipulative skill. Comparing a mother's love with a bank account deposited at the child's birth, she wrote that "unless you, my son Ernest, come to yourself...stop trading on your handsome face to fool little gullible girls, and neglecting your duties to God and your Savior, Jesus Christ...there is nothing before you but bankruptcy--you have overdrawn...When you have changed your ideas and aims in life, you will find your mother waiting to welcome you, whether it be this world or the next..."Both parents were high-strung. Domestic discord often flared, and they frequently took separate vacations.

Ernest's literary fame bewildered Grace. Unable to "make sense" of his novels, she usually laid them aside after reading several pages. With so many good things in the world, she complained, why did he write about the sordid, unhappy aspects of life" Ernest's melodramatic dislike of his mother was lifelong. Writing to a friend in 1948, he characterized Grace as "an all-time, All-American bitch," and added that the "first big psychic wound" of his life occurred when he discovered that his father was a "coward." Ernest's son Gregory stated that the novelist "hated his mother's guts. I never heard him say one good thing about her in his lifetime."

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