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12 Best Hemingway Quotes and a Fascinating Tidbit

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Ernest Hemingway was one of the most highly acclaimed novelists/journalists of the 20th Century. He served in World War I, and these experiences were the foundation for his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’. 

In his many journalistic endeavors, he gave us unforgettable novels, many inspiring thoughts and quotes that are simple, yet provide an interesting perspective to ponder.

A few of his quotes are very well known such as:

  • “There is no friend as loyal as a good book.” 
  • “Never confuse movement with action”.
  • “In order to write about life first you must live it.”

We did not include these three quotes in our list because you have probably heard them before, so we offer up some other Hemingway pearls here. As with most lists, opinions vary. This list may not include Hemingway quotes that some may feel are grave omissions. But that’s OK, it makes for good conversation. 

We selected the following as the topics are varied, from humorous to thought provoking, but all so distinctively eloquent. We originally tried to limit the list to ten, but had so many more, that it was difficult just to get the list down to these twelve.

Hemingway Typing Photo credit from


The Dynamic Dozen Hemingway Quotes

“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

“The first draft of anything is sh*t.”

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I am awake, you know?”

“I’m not unfaithful, darling. I’ve plenty of faults but I am faithful. You’ll be sick of me I’ll be so faithful.”

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.”

“I drink to make people interesting.”

“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

“When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve”.

Hemingway smiling with drinkPhoto credit from

A Hemingway Tidbit

Hemingway was always a colorful figure. He moved to Key West in the late 1920’s taking over a home gifted to him by his uncle Gus. He lived and wrote in Key West for ten years producing some of his famous works including ‘Farewell to Arms’, ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.

He generally wrote during the morning. He also enjoyed having a few/many libations at his favorite watering hole, Sloppy Joe’s. The story has it that Sloppy Joe’s was going to be renovated, and after a night of heavy consumption, Hemingway decided to take a memento back and incorporate it into his own home. 

After the bar closed, he and Sloppy Joe himself carried one of the bar's porcelain urinals back to his home where it remains as a watering bowl for the famous Hemingway cats, (their offspring still patrol the grounds today). Hemingway’s reasoning for taking the urinal was that he had “pissed away” so much money in the place he felt like he owned it.

Hemingway beard

Photo credit from

 Let The Banter Begin

Let us know your thoughts on our list and ‘tidbit’. Being a great listener, we believe Hemingway would love to listen in on the banter, especially his quotes. 

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