Jack-Hemingway
Jack Hemingway | Biography

Quick Information

  • Full Name John (Jack) Hadley Nicanor Hemingway
  • Nickname Bumby
  • Occupation Military Veteran, Conservationist, Angler, Commissioner
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Toronto, Canada
  • Birth Date October 10, 1923
  • Death Date December 1, 2000
  • Age At Death 77
Son of American Novelist Ernest Hemingway

Jack Hemingway | Biography

Helped Idaho Increase Trout Stocks As a Commissioner on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission

In November 1945, Hemingway was discharged from the army. He traveled to Cuba to see his father and then went to Utah for a skiing holiday. But while in Cuba, he sensed a shift in his relationship with his father. Jack later recalled being seen by his father as a man rather than "Bumby" — a nice little boy. “His view of me changed -- the fact that I was wounded and had a nice set of visible scars…I stopped being viewed as a nice little boy.” He then became a stockbroker and also worked as a fishing supplies salesman. Then in 1967, he retired and relocated to Ketchum, Idaho, where his father passed away and was buried. There, he taught languages, followed his love of fly fishing, and worked on autobiographical novels.


Jack Hemingway is a writer and conservationist known for his leading contribution to the Idaho state’s adoption of a catch and release fishing law as a commissioner on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. He is also known as the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway.s

Who is Jack Hemingway?

Born in Toronto, Hemingway was the eldest son of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. His parents got divorced when he was just five years old. After that, his mother moved to Paris, and his father moved to Cuba. He then grew up in Paris and spent his summer vacations in Cuba with his father. 

Hemingway was sent to boarding school at an early age. After school studies, he attended the University of Montana and enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1942. Later, he left Dartmouth to enlist in the U.S. Army. 

At first, he was assigned to the Military Police Division. Then later, he got qualified for the Officer Candidate Class and was appointed as a captain at the Office of Strategic Service (O.S.S.) in early 1944.

As an intelligence agent, he was missioned to gather intel from Nazi-occupied France. However, in the November of 1944, he was taken as a prisoner of war and got released six months later. 

When the war ended in 1949, he was awarded ‘Croix de Guerre’ by the French Government and was given the ‘Bronze Star Medal’ from the army’s commander for his noteworthy wartime contributions.

After that, he worked as a stockbroker and fishing material salesman, eventually retiring to Ketchum, Idaho, in 1967. There, he became an avid advocate of Idaho wildlife conservation and influenced enacting an important preservation policy to preserve trout stocks. 

Hemingway, similar to his father, was also a published writer and experienced angler. He penned two autobiographies and published ‘Misadventure of a Fly Fisherman: My Life with With and Without Papa’ in 1986 and ‘A Life Worth Living’ in 2004.

Hemingway was married to Byra Whittlesey from 1949 to 1986. He had three daughters with her Joan, Margaux, and Hadley (Mariel). After Whittlessey passed away, he remarried Angela Holvey in 1988 and died due to heart surgery complications in 2000.

Early Life

John (Jack) Hadley Nicanor Hemingway was born on 10 October 1923 in Toronto, Canada. His father Ernest Hemingway was the Pulitzer prize awarded writer Ernest Hemingway, and his mother was Hadley Richardson. He was named after the popular Spanish bullfighter Nicanor Villata, and while growing up, he was nicknamed Bumby.

Hemingway was the first child of his parents. During labor, his mother was given a large dose of dinitrogen monoxide, also known as laughing gas. Hence, while giving birth to him, she was unable to control her laughter.

After a day or two, Ernest wrote his son’s birth incident to American novelist Gertrude Stein. He connoted, “Hadley says the whole childbirth business has been greatly over-rated.” And, later Stein, along with her partner Alice B. Toklas became Hemingway’s godmothers.

Parents Divorce

Jack grew up in Paris and went to the Austrian Alps during the holidays with his parents. However, when he was five years old, his parents got divorced. In Ernest’s autobiography, ‘A Moveable Feast,’ he described his relationship with Hadley, his son, and the train ride he took to meet them, and why he and Hadley decided to separate and leave their son to the nanny.

After the divorce, Jack was enrolled in a boarding school in Paris and met his father only while he was on summer vacation. They both had a close relationship till Ernest’s death. Hemingway later in 1999 told the New York Times that his father had a different way of loving him. “He was my hero. When he was with you, you were the total center of his attention. But when I left to go back to school, I was out of his mind.”

In 1942, Jack went on to attend the University of Montana and also enrolled at Dartmouth College. But he did not finish his degree at Dartmouth. The classroom environment did not suit his interests, and he missed his classes due to his engagement in other popular on-campus activities.

At the time, the second world war had just begun, and Jack went to Cuba and took advice from Ernest to enlist in the US Army.

Career in the Military

After returning from Cuba, Hemmingway joined the army at the age of 19. He wanted to be at the infantry and be on the front lines of the action, but he was assigned to the military police detachment, posted to North Africa.

In the year of 1944, the Office of Strategic Service (O.S.S.) was created, and it operated behind the enemy lines to gather and process intel. Hemingway eventually qualified to be a part of the team since he was educated, physically able, and was fluent in French and Austrian German. He was also in the top ten percent and the youngest student to graduate from the Officer Candidate in the class of 200.

Later, Jack was appointed as a captain at the O.S.S.He was then posted to Nazi-occupied France to gather intelligence. Preparing for the mission, he had also packed his fishing instruments for his leisure time to reminisce the memories he had spent fishing with his father.

However, in November of 1944, he was shot and heavily injured in the field and was taken as a prisoner of war. He spent the next six months in confinement. Upon release, he continued working for the O.S.S and was assigned for missions in Berlin and then also in China.

When the war ended, he was awarded ‘Croix de Guerre’ by the French Government and received the ‘Bronze Star Medal’ from the army’s commander for his noteworthy wartime contributions.

Post Military

In November 1945, Hemingway was discharged from the army. He traveled to Cuba to see his father and then went to Utah for a skiing holiday. But while in Cuba, he sensed a shift in his relationship with his father.

Jack later recalled being seen by his father as a man rather than "Bumby" — a nice little boy. “His view of me changed -- the fact that I was wounded and had a nice set of visible scars…I stopped being viewed as a nice little boy.”

He then became a stockbroker and also worked as a fishing supplies salesman. After his father died in 1961, he started handling his father’s writings and other family matters.

Then in 1967, he retired and relocated to Ketchum, Idaho, where his father passed away and was buried. There, he taught languages, followed his love of fly fishing, and worked on autobiographical novels.

Books Publications

In 1986, Jack published a memoir on his father titled, ‘Misadventure of a Fly Fisherman: My Life with With and Without Papa.’ In the book, he emphasized his perspectives on being known as the famous son of Ernest Hemingway for the first 50 years and as the father of a daughter who would become models and actresses for the remaining years of his life.

And, just before his hospitalization in 2000, he had finished his second autobiography titled, ‘A Life Worth Living.’ It was later published in 2004.

Jack and his wife Angela Holvey were also working on another book featuring their travel stories, personal anecdotes, and their favorite recipes. Three weeks before his hospitalization, after he got into critical condition after heart surgery, he had penned the preface of the unnamed book, and his wife was set to complete the rest of it.

Angler and Conservationist

In the later years of his life, Jack dedicated much of his time advocating on behalf of endangered species. After settling in Idaho, he worked as a commissioner on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission from 1971 to 1977.

Serving the position, he worked tirelessly to adapt the catch and release fishing law in Idaho state. His inputs towards the law subsequently conserved the trout stocks in the state and increased the species population. He also worked on mandating the hunting and fishing laws of the state, persuading the policymakers to legislate a provision for the preservation of Idaho wildlife.

First and Second Wives

Jack married Byra Whittlesey on 25 June 1949 in Paris, France. They had three children, Joan Whittlesey "Muffet" Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, and Mariel Hadley Hemingway. Joan became a model, Margaux passed away in 1966 from an overdose of barbiturates, and Hadley became an actress prominently known as Mariel. After moving to Ketchum, Whittlesey passed away due to cancer in 1988. Then in 1989, Jack got married to Ketchim socialite Angela Holvey, who would accompany him in his fishing ambitions for 12 years until his death.

He promised her to share his adventurous life in his marriage proposal. “I am introducing you to a life of nature, fishing and shooting. We’ll go all over the world and meet wonderful people and share experiences on what I hope will be an unforgettable journey,” Jack dedicated his second book, ‘A Life Worth Living: The Adventures of a Passionate,’ to his second wife, Angela.

She embraced him in the book foreword for his “warm” approach to friendship, which she wrote was similar to a “cork drawn from a fine bottle of wine.” "It really was a fairy tale story. We had a fabulous marriage,” Angela shared.

Cause of Death

Hemingway had heart problems, and in his later life, he got problems from heart surgery. And on 1 December 2000, he passed away at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital at the age of 77.

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