F Scott Fitzgerald Biography & Facts
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American novelist, essayist, short story writer, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels depicting the flamboyance and excess of the Jazz Age—a term he popularized. During his lifetime, he published four novels, four story collections, and 164 short stories. Although he achieved temporary popular success and fortune in the 1920s, Fitzgerald received critical acclaim only after his death and is now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.
Born into a middle-class family in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald was raised primarily in New York state. He attended Princeton University where he befriended future literary critic Edmund Wilson. Owing to a failed romantic relationship with Chicago socialite Ginevra King, he dropped out in 1917 to join the United States Army during World War I. While stationed in Alabama, he met Zelda Sayre, a Southern debutante who belonged to Montgomery's exclusive country-club set. Although she initially rejected Fitzgerald's marriage proposal due to his lack of financial prospects, Zelda agreed to marry him after he published the commercially successful This Side of Paradise (1920). The novel became a cultural sensation and cemented his reputation as one of the eminent writers of the decade.
His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned (1922), propelled him further into the cultural elite. To maintain his affluent lifestyle, he wrote numerous stories for popular magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and Esquire. During this period, Fitzgerald frequented Europe, where he befriended modernist writers and artists of the "Lost Generation" expatriate community, including Ernest Hemingway. His third novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), received generally favorable reviews but was a commercial failure, selling fewer than 23,000 copies in its first year. Despite its lackluster debut, The Great Gatsby is now hailed by some literary critics as the "Great American Novel". Following the deterioration of his wife's mental health and her placement in a mental institute for schizophrenia, Fitzgerald completed his final novel, Tender Is the Night (1934).
Struggling financially because of the declining popularity of his works amid the Great Depression, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood where he embarked upon an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter. While living in Hollywood, he cohabited with columnist Sheilah Graham, his final companion before his death. After a long struggle with alcoholism, he attained sobriety only to die of a heart attack in 1940, at 44. His friend Edmund Wilson completed and published an unfinished fifth novel, The Last Tycoon (1941), after Fitzgerald's death.
Childhood and early years
Born on September 24, 1896, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to a middle-class Catholic family, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was named after his distant cousin, Francis Scott Key, who wrote in 1814 the lyrics for the American national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner". His mother was Mary "Molly" McQuillan Fitzgerald, the daughter of an Irish immigrant who became wealthy as a wholesale grocer. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, descended from Irish and English ancestry, and had moved to Minnesota from Maryland after the American Civil War to open a wicker-furniture manufacturing business. Edward's first cousin twice removed, Mary Surratt, was hanged in 1865 for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.One year after Fitzgerald's birth, his father's wicker-furniture manufacturing business failed, and the family moved to Buffalo, New York where his father joined Procter & Gamble as a salesman. Fitzgerald spent the first decade of his childhood primarily in Buffalo with a brief interlude in Syracuse between January 1901 and September 1903. His parents sent him to two Catholic schools on Buffalo's West Side—first Holy Angels Convent (1903–1904) and then Nardin Academy (1905–1908). As a boy, Fitzgerald was described by his peers as unusually intelligent with a keen interest in literature.Procter & Gamble fired his father in March 1908, and the family returned to Saint Paul. Although his alcoholic father was now destitute, his mother's inheritance supplemented the family income and allowed them to continue living a middle-class lifestyle. Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy from 1908 to 1911. At 13, Fitzgerald had his first piece of fiction published in the school newspaper. In 1911, Fitzgerald's parents sent him to the Newman School, a Catholic prep school in Hackensack, New Jersey. At Newman, Father Sigourney Fay recognized his literary potential and encouraged him to become a writer.
Princeton and Ginevra King
After graduating from Newman in 1913, Fitzgerald enrolled at Princeton University and became one of the few Catholics in the student body. As the semesters passed, he formed close friendships with classmates Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop, both of whom would later aid his literary career. Determined to be a successful writer, Fitzgerald wrote stories and poems for the Princeton Triangle Club, the Princeton Tiger, and the Nassau Lit.During his sophomore (second) year, Fitzgerald returned home to Saint Paul during Christmas break where he met and fell in love with 16-year-old Chicago debutante Ginevra King. The couple began a romantic relationship spanning several years. She would become his literary model for the characters of Isabelle Borgé in This Side of Paradise, Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, and many others. While Fitzgerald attended Princeton, Ginevra attended Westover, a nearby Connecticut women's school. He visited Ginevra at Westover until her expulsion for flirting with a crowd of young male admirers from her dormitory window. Her return home ended Fitzgerald's weekly courtship.Despite the great distance separating them, Fitzgerald still attempted to pursue Ginevra, and he traveled across the country to visit her family's Lake Forest estate. Although Ginevra loved him, her upper-class family belittled Scott's courtship because of his lower-class status compared to her other wealthy suitors. Her imperious father Charles Garfield King purportedly told a young Fitzgerald that "poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls."Rejected by Ginevra as an unsuitable match, a suicidal Fitzgerald enlisted in the United States Army amid World War I and received a commission as a second lieutenant. While awaiting deployment to the Western front where he hoped to die in combat, he was stationed in a training camp at Fort Leavenworth under the command of Captain Dwight Eisenhower, the future general of the Army and United States President. Fitzgerald purportedly chafed under Eisenhower's authority and disliked him intensely. Hoping to have a novel published before his anticipated death in Europe, Fitzgerald hastily wrote a 120,000-word manuscript entitled The Romantic Egotist in three.... Discover the F Scott Fitzgerald popular books. Find the top 100 most popular F Scott Fitzgerald books.