The Old Man and the Sea was published in Life, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and was successful worldwide. At this point the celebrity really took off. He was a genuine public personality. "The appetite for information about him was unquenchable: Periodicals aimed at every level of readership regularly reported his opinions and personal activities; the saga of his life was recounted in magazines ranging from the New Yorker to Life to True; newspaper columnists as dissimilar as Joseph Alsop and Leonard Lyons often discussed him in their columns." (82) People could not get enough information about him. Tourists and reporters appeared at the Finca, and readers from all over the world wrote him at the rate of eighty or ninety letters a day. (83)
Despite this success, the hurting time continued. Hemingway's mother had died; Mary's father died; Pauline died at fifty-six of an undiagnosed tumor. Hemingway's word counts and notebook jottings were supplemented and, to a certain extent, supplanted by his lists of what he ate, his weight, blood pressure, and medication. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize for literature, but he was too ill to accept it in person. He was recovering from his injuries from the two African plane crashes and his other medical problems. Loneliness was overwhelming him. "There is no lonelier man," he wrote in a discarded draft of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, "than the writer when he is writing except the suicide. Nor is there any happier, nor more exhausted man when he has written well. If he has written well everything that is him has gone into the writing and he faces another morning when he must do it again. There is always another morning and another morning." (84)

After hospitalization for extreme nervous depression, two suicide threats, and electric shock treatments, there were no more mornings. In July 1961, after his release from the Mayo Clinic, Hemingway committed suicide by shooting himself in the forehead with a shotgun in his home in Ketchum. During the funeral, Gregory thought, "I hope it's peaceful finally . . . because nobody ever dreamed of, or longed for, or experienced, less peace than he. He wrote of that longing all his life, in words as simple and as complicated as autumn and as spring." (85) Hemingway was "first and foremost a storyteller," Scribner said in a fitting epilogue. "Throughout his career as a writer from his first by-lined stories as a reporter to the time of his death, Hemingway never forgot that books were written to be read." (86)