F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940)

F. Scott Fitzgerald
(1896 – 1940)
Early Life
• Birth: September 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota
• Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
• Namesake and distant cousin: Francis Scott Key (wrote the lyrics to the “StarSpangled Banner”)
• Bright, handsome, and ambitious boy
• First published piece of writing: detective story in school newspaper at
age 13
College Years
• Princeton University
• Dedicated to honing his craft as a writer
• Scripts for Princeton’s Triangle Club musicals
• Articles for the Princeton Tiger humor magazine
• Stories for the Nassau Literary Magazine
• Placed on academic probation and dropped out to join the Army in
Army Years
• Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama
• Met Zelda Sayre, daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge
• Fitzgerald was never deployed, moved to New York City in 1918 after the
war ended and he was discharged
• Hoped to find a career in advertising lucrative enough for Zelda to marry
• Quit job after only a few months and returned to St. Paul to write
Success in Writing
• First novel: This Side of Paradise, published 1920, largely autobiographical,
glowing reviews, immediate success
• Almost overnight, Fitzgerald, 24, becomes one of America’s most promising
young writers
• One week after publication, Fitzgerald marries Zelda
• 1921: daughter born, Frances Scott Fitzgerald
Celebrity Status
• Embarked on an extravagant lifestyle that earned him a reputation for being
a playboy and hindered his reputation as a serious literary writer
• Fitzgerald supported himself financially by writing great numbers of short
stories for popular publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire
• “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
• “The Camel’s Back”
Second Novel
• 1922: The Beautiful and the Damned
• Helped to cement his status as one of the great chroniclers and satirists of
the culture of wealth, extravagance, and ambition that emerged during the
affluent 1920s—what became known as the Jazz Age
Move to France
• 1924, seeking a change of scenery to spark his creativity
• 1924-25: Wrote The Great Gatsby in Valescure, France
The Great Gatsby
• Published in April 1925
• Well received, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the novel achieved its
status as the definitive portrait of the “Roaring Twenties” and one of the
greatest American novels ever written
Later Years
• After finishing The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s life began to unravel.
• Alcoholism and writer’s block
• Zelda also suffered from mental health issues, and was institutionalized
more than once
Tender Is the Night
• Finally published in 1934, after years of turmoil
• Commercial failure and initially poorly received
• Has since gained in reputation and is now considered another great
American novel
Hollywood Years
• After another two years lost to alcoholism and depression, Fitzgerald moved
to Hollywood to attempt to revive his career as a screenwriter and a freelance
• Began working on another novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939
• Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940 in Hollywood,
California at the age of 44
• At the time of his death, Fitzgerald believed himself to be a failure-–none of
his works received more than modest commercial and critical success during
his lifetime
• Fitzgerald has since gained a reputation as one of the greatest authors in the
history of American literature due almost entirely to the enormous
posthumous success of The Great Gatsby