Links Between Brothers: Ernest and Leicester Hemingway


Ernest Hemingway and his brother Leicester Hemingway have a lot in common. Each died by his own hand.  Both were writers. Is it a curse of writers to have some incredible talent and then die by their own hand?

An examination of both men reveals that they might have a history of suicide and depression in their family. Their father, who committed suicide in 1928, was a doctor, but it was their mother who had a profound influence on the family. Both men would later become writers.

What then is the link? Their deaths by their own hands or their lives as writers? That Question is best answered by looking at both of them separately:

Death by Suicide Ernest Hemingway and Leicester Hemingway:

Both men were ill with diabetes and depression when they, Ernest in 1961 and Leicester in 1982, committed suicide. This was tragic for the literary world in general since they lost another figure from the “Lost Generation.” This was a group of men who were involved in the many wars of the twentieth century and many either committed suicide or died young, through excessive drug use or alcohol.

The list is long of the men who were affected by the First and Second World War: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leicester Hemingway, and Sherwood Anderson are numbered in this group. Many of the men suffered long after the Wars that would shape their writing.

It is believed by many that due to their father having a high level of iron in his blood, that upon inheriting this, the brothers had higher levels of iron in their system making them predisposed to depression and other illnesses. Yet, Ernest who killed himself at the age of 61, and Leicester who killed himself in 1982, at the age of 67, the only direct link they had was their diabetes. Leicester born in 1915 would have been most affected by the loss of his father, as he was only 13 at the time of his father’s death.

His brother’s suicide prompted him to write: My Brother Ernest Hemingway. When he committed suicide as well, the theory of a hereditary predisposition was made stronger still. Another sister of theirs and Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter would also commit suicide, lending credence to this theory.

This does not do justice to two very creative men and their lives. Part of their lives, in the case of Ernest Hemingway, was that of being a writer.

Writing as a Part of the Lives of Ernest and Leicester Hemingway:

Many writers focus on the brilliance of Ernest Hemingway whose countless books and stories were written in a way that influenced another generation that of generation X. Leicester was a prolific writer as well producing six novels, including one on his brother after Ernest’s premature death. His first novel, The Sound of the Trumpet is based on his own experiences in World War Two, as he was born in 1915, and was too young to recall the events that his elder brother wrote in his own books.

Ernest Hemingway was nothing if not prolific as well, with 11 novels to his credit three published after his death. He also wrote several none fiction pieces the majority of which were published after his death.

The question remains, what is their lasting influence, other than being brothers and writers and committing suicide in their sixties?

It is their sense of writing style that their creative works, which influenced not only their generation but other generations. They were creative, intelligent men who created a new style of writing this is perhaps their finest legacy to the world.


© Rebecca Anne Emrich

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