born: SEPTEMBER, 1896
died: DECEMBER 21, 1940
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author celebrated for his novels and short stories that capture the spirit of the Jazz Age. His works, including The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, are renowned for their lyrical prose, vivid characters, and exploration of themes such as wealth, love, and the American Dream. Through his writings, Fitzgerald left an indelible mark on 20th-century literature.
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY BACKGROUND
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Edward Fitzgerald and Mary Mollie McQuillan Fitzgerald. His father was a salesman and his mother came from a wealthy Irish Catholic family. The family moved frequently due to Edward’s wavering business fortunes, but they eventually settled back in St. Paul.
Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy and later, the Newman School in New Jersey. He began writing at a young age, publishing stories and poems in his school’s literary magazine. In 1913, he enrolled at Princeton University, where he wrote for the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine.
WRITING CAREER AND LITERARY STYLE
Fitzgerald’s writing career took off with the publication of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. The novel’s success allowed him to marry Zelda Sayre, the quintessential flapper and the love of his life. The couple became symbols of the Jazz Age, attending lavish parties and embodying the era’s glamour and excess.
Fitzgerald’s literary style is characterized by its evocative prose, keen observation of social dynamics, and exploration of themes such as wealth, love, and disillusionment. His works often draw from his own experiences, providing a vivid portrayal of the time in which he lived.
TOP 10 BOOKS BY F. S. FITZGERALD
Considered Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, this novel tells the tragic story of Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who pursues the elusive Daisy Buchanan. The novel explores themes of wealth, love, and the American Dream in the decadent Roaring Twenties.
Set on the French Riviera, this novel follows the tumultuous relationship of psychiatrist Dick Diver and his wife, Nicole. The story delves into themes of love, betrayal, and the impact of mental illness on relationships.
Fitzgerald’s debut novel, which catapulted him to fame, explores the life of Amory Blaine, a young man seeking love and purpose in the years leading up to World War I.
This novel chronicles the decline of Anthony Patch, a socialite and aspiring writer, and his wife, Gloria, as they grapple with the consequences of wealth, idleness, and ambition.
The Last Tycoon (1941)
Published posthumously, this unfinished novel follows the life of Hollywood producer Monroe Stahr and his struggle to maintain his success and integrity in a cutthroat industry.
The Crack-Up (1945)
A collection of essays, notes, and letters that provide insight into Fitzgerald’s personal struggles and thoughts on writing, success, and failure during the later years of his life.
Flappers and Philosophers (1920)
This collection of short stories includes some of Fitzgerald’s most famous tales, such as Bernice Bobs Her Hair and The Ice Palace, which explore the lives and desires of young people in the 1920s.
Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
Another compilation of short stories, this collection features the classic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and other tales that capture the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.
Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (1960)
This posthumously published anthology includes the poignant title story, Babylon Revisited, as well as other tales that demonstrate Fitzgerald’s skill as a short story writer.
The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1989)
A comprehensive collection of Fitzgerald’s short fiction, showcasing his mastery of the form and his ability to create memorable characters and evocative settings.
- Connection to Francis Scott Key: Fitzgerald was named after his distant cousin, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner.
- Friendship with Ernest Hemingway: Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were friends and literary contemporaries, though their relationship was often strained due to personal and professional jealousies.
- Screenwriting Attempts: Fitzgerald spent time in Hollywood as a screenwriter in the 1930s, but he found little success in the film industry.
- The Great Gatsby’s Initial Reception: Despite its current status as a literary classic, The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews upon publication and sold poorly, contributing to Fitzgerald’s disillusionment with his career.
- Zelda Fitzgerald’s Mental Health: Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, struggled with mental health issues throughout their marriage, eventually being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her condition and treatment greatly impacted their relationship and Fitzgerald’s writing.
DEATH AND LASTING LEGACY
F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44, in Hollywood, California. Though his later years were marked by personal and professional struggles, his literary legacy has endured.
Fitzgerald’s works, particularly The Great Gatsby, continue to captivate readers with their vivid characters, evocative settings, and exploration of the human condition. His novels and short stories serve as windows into the Jazz Age, capturing the spirit and complexity of the era.
In addition to his literary achievements, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life serves as a testament to the power of talent and perseverance. Despite facing numerous challenges, his dedication to his craft has left an indelible mark on American literature. As we reflect on Fitzgerald’s life and works, it is clear that his impact on the literary world and his ability to create timeless stories will ensure that his legacy endures for generations to come.