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Life Experience

Ernest Hemingway - 1899–1961 - Fascinating Documentary on BBC i-player

We have just started watching a fascinating BBC iPlayer documentary about the life of Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway was one of America’s most celebrated novelists and short story writers who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

He was a war reporter and himself a victim of war, being seriously wounded when he was an ambulance driver in Italy in the First World War.

My own attempt to read Hemingway as a teenager was not a happy one. I found his pared-down, colourless style barren and tedious to read. Perhaps I had chosen the wrong story to start with or maybe it was just my immaturity or maybe it was a very poor piece of Hemingway’s writing.

Hemingway’s colourful life

However, Hemingway certainly had a full, difficult and interesting life, and in his lifetime relished his macho image as a hunting, fishing, heavy drinking womanizer who married four times.
After a period of severe depression and ECT treatment he ended his life by shooting himself at the age of 61. His father, his sister Ursula and his brother Leicester also killed themselves.

First episode

I have watched only the first episode of the documentary. Hemingway’s story is told with thoughtful, intelligent detail and remarkable black and white footage to accompany the account of his prosperous but difficult childhood and his first world war adventure which led to him being seriously wounded in Italy. This first episode also covers Hemingway’s first marriage and his time in Paris when he met a number of well-known 20th century writers.

His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, depicts life among the dissolute thinkers and drinkers in Paris at this time, the early 1920s.

The programme has tempted me to take another look at some of Hemingway’s writing.


Each of the six episodes lasts for 50 minutes and is available on BBC iPlayer.

The series will be available for the next 11 months which will take us up to May or June 2022.

Accessing i-player with Chromecast

There are obviously several ways of accessing iPlayer but our own method is to find the programme on my Android mobile phone (about £150, which I have had for three years). Then, by pressing the “Cast” icon we send the programme to our telly. This happens with the aid of the very cheap but very effective Chromecast dongle (about £40) plugged into the back of the telly. The programme plays with great picture detail and sound quality. Our internet connection is part of the system and the phone is acting as a sort of remote control.

You can see what Amazon has to offer by clicking a link below.

David Roberts

30 July 2021

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David Roberts

Writer, publisher, music promoter

Born in 1942, I now have time to enjoy life more widely and reflect on my experience, interests, and contemporary events.

David Roberts

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