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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
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"There never was a good biography of a good novelist. There couldn’t be. He is too many people, if he’s any good."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

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        Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul Minnesota. He was the third child of Edward and Mary McQuillan Fitzgerald. Unfortunately the first two children died, so his mother was very protective over him. By 1901, Fitzgerald's parents had another child, who fortunately survived and they named her Annabel. For school Fitzgerald went to St. Paul Academy and at the age of thirteen he wrote his first detective story and it was published in the school newspaper. Between 1911 and 1913 he went to the Newman School, a Catholic high school in New Jersey. Here Fitzgerald met Father Sigourney Fay, who supported his aspirations for personal distinction and achievement.
        When Fitzgerald graduated from high school he went to Princeton University. He abandoned his studies for his literary apprenticeship and wrote scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musicals and was a publicist to the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Later he was put on probation and was unlikely to graduate, so Fitzgerald left the school and decided to join the army in 1917 and was appointed to second lieutenant in the infantry. He was convinced that he was going to die in war so he decided to write the novel, The Romantic Egotist, but it was rejected by the Scribners, a publishing company. In June 1918 he was assigned to Camp Sheridan and there he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, an eighteen-year-old girl, daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge.

        On July 1919 he decided to quit his job and returned to St. Paul to rewrite his novel first novel as This Side of Paradise, a novel that sketches the career aspirations and love disappointments of the character Amory Blaine. In the winter of 1919 Fitzgerald started his career as a story writer for magazines. The Saturday Evening Post became Fitzgerald's best story market. In his stories of young love he introduced a new character. This character was an independent and determined young American woman. This character appeared in The Offshore Pirate and Bernice Bobs Her Hair. The publication of This Side of Paradise on March 26, 1920 made Fitzgerald very famous. A week later after the great success he remarried Zelda in New York. In New York he attempted to earn a literary reputation, but his playboy image didn't allow him to do it.

        After this great achievement, Fitzgerald decided to write his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, which outlined a time line of the devastation of Anthony and Gloria Patch. When Zelda became pregnant they took their first trip to Europe in 1921. They then returned back to establish themselves in St. Paul for the birth of their first child on October 1921, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, also known as Scottie. In the fall of 1922 the family decided to move to Great Neck, Long Island, to be near Broadway, in order to get out of debt with his short stories. Unfortunately the interference of Broadway prevented Scott from progressing into his third novel. During this time he drank frequently and became an alcoholic, but he was able to write sober. Many thought that he was an irresponsible writer for always being drunk, but he had a clear, lyrical, and a witty writing style that aroused emotions that related time and place. To seek tranquility for his work the family traveled to France in the spring of 1924 where he wrote The Great Gatsby. Here the marriage was damaged because Zelda became involved with a French naval aviator.

        The family then spent the winter of 1924-1925 in Rome, where he revised The Great Gatsby and then returned to Paris to publish the novel in April. The novel showed that Fitzgerald's writing technique had developed into a complex structure.

        The family then returned to the United States and there he rented Ellerslie, a mansion near Wilmington, Delaware, in the spring of 1927. They then returned to Paris where Scott was able to advance to his next novel and Zelda decided to take ballet lessons because she wanted to become a professional dancer. In the spring of 1929 her ballet training damaged her health seriously and this was the cause of their disunity. The progress of his novel was once again interrupted and at this time he began writing short stories to pay for psychiatric treatment. Fitzgerald was not among the highest-paid writers of his time; his novels earned very little and most of his income came from the magazine stories. During the 1920s his income from all the sources was about under $25,000. Ironically Scott would write about the effects of money on character, while he was unable to manage his own finances. His next novel, published in 1934, Tender Is the Night, is about the deterioration of Dick Diver, an American psychiatrist, during his marriage to a wealthy mental patient. Unluckily it was not a success in the market.

        Scott suffered greatly during the period of 1936 and 1937. He became drunk again, in debt, and was unable to write commercial stories, and he had to live in hotels in the region near Asheville, North Carolina. After living in Baltimore, Fitzgerald could not maintain a home for his daughter Scottie so when she turned fourteen she had to attend a boarding school, and the Obers became her substitute family. Nonetheless, Scott did not abandon his daughter, so he would communicate with his daughter by mail trying to supervise her education and social values. During the late Depression years he traveled to the east to visit his wife and in California he fell in love with the movie columnist Sheilah Graham. By the end of 1938 he began his Hollywood novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon and had written more than half of the novel when he died of a heart attack in Graham's apartment on December 21, 1940. Unfortunately, Scott died very unhappily because he died believing himself as a failure. By 1960, twenty years after his death, he had achieved a safe place among the great American writers.

Period 6 English World Literature Author