F. Scott Fitzgerald was an American writer. He was born on September 24, 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota as Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. He is named after a distant cousin, Francis Scott Key. His relative wrote the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner in 1814. His father Edward ran a manufacturing business. Papa Ed was the first cousin twice removed to Mary Surratt. She was the first woman executed by the United States federal government for taking part in the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
The patriotic divide between the two cousins was infinite. Fitzgerald published his first story in the school newspaper at the age of thirteen. He was sent to a Catholic preparatory school in New Jersey in 1911. He graduated two years later and enrolled into Princeton University. He met several of his future collaborators in college and pursued a long-distance romantic relationship with a Chicago socialite named Ginevra King.
He was rejected and suicidal. F. Scott Fitzgerald enlisted in the Army during World War I. His intention was to die in combat. He served under the future president Captain Dwight Eisenhower and submitted a manuscript before deployment. It was rejected with good feedback. He was garrisoned in Montgomery, Alabama and met Zelda Sayre at a country club. She was from an affluent family. Her grandfather was a Senator. The two began a relationship.
Fitzgerald was transferred. Their love blossomed. Francis was discharged and informally engaged to Zelda until he could prove his financial worth. The year was 1918. The writer moved to New York to write. He was rejected more than one hundred twenty times. Time passed. He worked in advertising. He failed and Zelda ended the engagement. The dark thoughts returned. He quit his job and moved back to Minnesota.
He stopped drinking and revised his rejected manuscript. It was published on March 26, 1920. This Side of Paradise sold over forty thousand copies in its first year and turned F. Scott Fitzgerald into a celebrity. He married Zelda in April. The two moved into the Biltmore Hotel in Manhattan. They were unhinged and asked to leave. The pair relocated to the Commodore Hotel two blocks away. Alcohol consumption increased. They were evicted again. Their notoriety grew. A child was born.
The Beautiful and Damned was serialized in Metropolitan Magazine in 1921 and published as a book a year after. The story sold. F. Scott Fitzgerald moved to Great Neck, Long Island to write for Broadway. It was a disaster. He wrote short pieces to re-stabilize his finances. The couple continued to party. The author met a wealthy bootlegger who liked to say “old sport”. An idea formed. A third novel began. The Fitzgerald family moved to Europe in 1924.
The Great Gatsby
Work on The Great Gatsby continued near the French Riviera. It was finished in Rome and released on April 10, 1925. The novel was a critical success, but failed to reach the public. The Great Gatsby was a commercial failure for the rest of Fitzgerald’s life. The Lost Generation was formed in Paris a year after. James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Sylvia beach, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway left deep imprints in the Parisian landscape. The outlines were vibrant and could be retraced with a hangover. Hemingway and Francis grew close. Zelda spiraled.
The couple returned to America in 1926. They moved to Hollywood in 1927. They returned to Europe in the Spring of 1929. Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930. Switzerland to convalesce. Back to the United States in 1931. Zelda was hospitalized in Maryland in 1932. It was Winter. The writer was allowed to visit when the snow began to melt. The marriage was frozen. The hum of mental illness grew stronger. The Great Depression became a sick metaphor of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life.
Tender Is the Night was published in 1934. It was a failure. The author was broke. He became ill later in the decade. Years of alcoholism exasperated his condition. He was estranged from his wife. He moved to Hollywood in 1937 and stabilized his finances. He spent it on his family and decided to get sober. He remained so for over a year before he died of a heart attack from occlusive coronary arteriosclerosis on December 21, 1940. F. Scott Fitzgerald was forty-four years old. His final clear-headed year was remembered as one of his best.
F. Scott Fitzgerald Bibliography
|This Side of Paradise||1920|
|The Ice Palace||1920|
|Bernice Bobs Her Hair||1920|
|The Beautiful and Damned||1922|
|The Diamond as Big as the Ritz||1922|
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||1922|
|The Great Gatsby||1925|
|The Rich Boy||1926|
|Tender Is the Night||1934|
|The Last Tycoon||1941|
“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald