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 was 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 collections of short stories, 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. He attended Princeton University, but owing to a failed romantic relationship with Chicago socialite Ginevra King, he dropped out in 1917 to join the United States Army amid World War I. While stationed in Alabama, he romanced Zelda Sayre, a Southern debutante who belonged to Montgomery's exclusive country-club set. Although she rejected Fitzgerald initially, because of 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 widely praised, with some labeling it 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 turned to Hollywood, writing and revising screenplays. 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.
Early life and education
Born on September 24, 1896, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to a middle-class family, Fitzgerald was named after his second cousin thrice removed, Francis Scott Key, but was always known as Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was also named after his deceased sister, Louise Scott Fitzgerald, one of two sisters who died shortly before his birth. "Well, three months before I was born," he wrote as an adult, "my mother lost her other two children ... I think I started then to be a writer." His father, Edward Fitzgerald, descended from Irish and English ancestry, and moved to St. Paul from Maryland after the American Civil War. His mother was Mary "Molly" McQuillan Fitzgerald, the daughter of an Irish immigrant who had made his fortune in the wholesale grocery business. Edward's first cousin twice removed, Mary Surratt, was hanged in 1865 for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
Edward Fitzgerald had earlier worked as a wicker furniture salesman; when the business failed, he joined Procter & Gamble in Buffalo, New York. 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, both Catholic, sent him to two Catholic schools on Buffalo's West Side—first Holy Angels Convent (1903–1904, now disused) and then Nardin Academy (1905–1908). Fitzgerald's formative years revealed him to be a boy of unusual intelligence with a keen early interest in literature. His mother's money supplemented the family income and enabled them to live in a comfortable lifestyle. In a rather unconventional style of parenting, Fitzgerald attended Holy Angels with the arrangement that he go for only half a day—and be allowed to choose which half.In March 1908, Procter & Gamble fired his father, and the family returned to Minnesota, where Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy from 1908 to 1911. At 13, Fitzgerald had his first work, a detective story, 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. Mentored by Fay, Fitzgerald played on Newman's football team. After graduating from Newman in 1913, Fitzgerald enrolled at Princeton University and became one of the few Catholics in the student body. When he tried out for the football team, the coach rejected him on the first day of practice.At Princeton, Fitzgerald's classmates included future writers, critics, historians, and aviators such as Edmund Wilson, John Peale Bishop, George R. Stewart, and Elliott White Springs. As the semesters passed, he formed close friendships with Wilson and Bishop, both of whom would later aid his literary career. Fitzgerald wrote for the Princeton Triangle Club, the Princeton Tiger, and the Nassau Lit. He became involved in the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, which ran the Nassau Lit. Four of the University's eating clubs sent him bids at midyear, and he chose the University Cottage Club where its library still displays his desk and writing materials.
Amid his sophomore year at Princeton, Fitzgerald returned home to Saint Paul during Christmas break. At a winter sledding party on Summit Avenue, the 19-year-old Fitzgerald met 16-year-old Chicago beauty and debutante Ginevra King with whom he fell deeply in love. The couple began a romantic relationship that would span several years. Obsessed with Ginevra, Fitzgerald inundated her with passionate love letters and insisted he would be devoted to her for the rest of his life. 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 other characters in his work. While Fitzgerald attended Princeton, Ginevra attended Westover, a nearby Connecticut women's school. He visited Ginevra at Westover until her abrupt expulsion for flirting with a crowd of young male admirers from her dormitory window. Her immediate return to Lake Forest, Illinois, ended Fitzgerald's weekly courtship.Despite the great distance now separating them, Fitzgerald still attempted to pursue Ginevra, and he traveled across the country.... Discover the F Scott Fitzgerald popular books. Find the top 100 most popular F Scott Fitzgerald books.