Today would have been the 113th birthday of Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois. He started his writing life as a journalist, but when he was in Paris after World War I, working as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star, he was encouraged to take a more literary turn by other American writers like Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. His first collection of short stories, In Our Time, was published in 1925.

Both U.S. presidential candidates of 2008 cited Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) as one of their favorite books. It’s about an American teacher, Robert Jordan, who volunteers to go fight in the Spanish Civil War and, after being wounded in battle, contemplates shooting himself to end the pain. But when the enemy comes into sight, Jordan delays their approach so that his own comrades can escape to safety. And then he dies.
from The Writer’s Almanac