In 1923, Hemingway saw his first bullfight in Spain. He was so taken with this ancient blood sport that he soon returned to witness one of the bullfights that highlighted the annual fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona. By the time the festival was over, bullfighting was one of the passions of his life, and his third visit to the Pamplona festival in 1925 became the inspiration for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.
Ever eager to test his courage, Hemingway himself frequently participated in morning sessions at Pamplona where amateur matadors could take on bulls with padded horns. Here, he can be seen (right of center, in white pants and dark sweater) confronting a charging bull.
Hemingway trying his hand at bullfighting in Pamplona, Spain
Unidentified photographer / Gelatin silver print, 1924
Image courtesy Ernest Hemingway Collection, John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts