American novellist Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born September 24, 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to an uper-middle-class family, Fitzgerald was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed, Francis Scott Key, but was referred to as “Scott.” He was also named after his deceased sister, Louise Scott. Fitzgerald spent he first decade of his childhood primarily in Buffalo, New York and Syracuse, New York between 1901 and 1903). His parents, both devout Catholics, sent Fitzgerald to two Catholic schools on the West Side of Buffalo, first Holy Angels Convent and n Nardin Academy
Fitzgerald was intelligent with an interest in literature, his doting mother ensuring that her son had all the advantages ofan upper-middle-class upbringing. Fitzgerald attended Holy Angels for only half a day—and was allowed to choose which half. In 1908, his father was fired from Procter & Gamble, and the family returned to Minnesota, where Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy, St. Paul from 1908 to 1911. When he was 13 he published a detective story in the school newspaper. In 1911, when Fitzgerald was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic prep school in Hackensack, New Jersey. There he met Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.
After graduating from the Newman School in 1913, Fitzgerald continued his artistic development at Princeton University, New Jersey. At Princeton, he became friends with future critics and writers Edmund Wilson (Class of 1916) and John Peale Bishop (Class of 1917), and wrote for the Princeton Triangle Club, the Nassau Lit, and the Princeton Tiger. He also was involved in the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, which ran the Nassau Lit. The Princeton Triangle was a kind of musical-comedy society. He was also a member of the University Cottage Club, which still displays Fitzgerald’s desk and writing materials in its library.
However Fitzgerald’s writings came at the expense of his coursework. He was placed on academic probation, and in 1917 he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army. Afraid that he might die in World War I with his literary dreams unfulfilled, Fitzgerald hastily wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist. the reviewer noted its originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more work in the future. Fitzgerald made several excursions to Europe on the 1920’s, mostly Paris and the French Riviera, and became friends with many members of the American expatriate community in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald supplemented his income by writing short stories for such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s Weekly, and Esquire, and sold his stories and novels to Hollywood studios.
Fitzgerald claimed that he would first write his stories in an authentic manner but then put in “twists that made them into saleable magazine stories. Although Fitzgerald’s passion lay in writing novels, only his first novel sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. (The Great Gatsby, now considered to be his masterpiece, did not become popular until after Fitzgerald’s death.) Because of this lifestyle, as well as the bills from Zelda’s medical care when they came, Fitzgerald was constantly in financial trouble and often required loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his editor at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins. When Ober decided not to continue advancing money to Fitzgerald, the author severed ties with his longtime friend and agent. (Fitzgerald offered a good-hearted and apologetic tribute to this support in the late short story “Financing Finnegan”.)
Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1920s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, Fitzgerald rented the “La Paix” estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients. The book went through many versions, the first of which was to be a story of matricide. Some critics have seen the book as a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel recounting Fitzgerald’s problems with his wife, the corrosive effects of wealth and a decadent lifestyle, his own egoism and self-confidence, and his continuing alcoholism. . His book was finally published in 1934 as Tender Is the Night. Critics who had waited nine years for the followup to The Great Gatsby had mixed opinions about the novel. Most were thrown off by its three-part structure and many felt that Fitzgerald had not lived up to their expectations.The novel did not sell well upon publication but, like the earlier Gatsby, the book’s reputation has since risen significantly.
In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood, and Most of the income he made came from short story sales. Besides writing, he also got involved in the film industry. Although he reportedly found movie work degrading, Fitzgerald was once again in dire financial straits, and spent the second half of the 1930s in Hollywood, working on commercial short stories, scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (including some unfilmed work on Gone with the Wind), and his fifth and final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon. Published posthumously as The Last Tycoon, it was based on the life of film executive Irving Thalberg. Among his other film projects was Madame Curie, for which he received no credit. In 1939, MGM ended the contract, and Fitzgerald became a freelance screenwriter.
However, during all this, Fitzgerald’s alcoholic tendencies still remained, and conflict with Zelda surfaced. Fitzgerald and Zelda became estranged; she continued living in mental institutions on the East Coast, while he lived with his lover Sheilah Graham, the gossip columnist, in Hollywood. In addition, records from the 1940 U.S. Census reflect that he was officially living at the estate of Edward Everett Horton in Encino, California San Fernando Valley. From 1939 until his death in 1940, Fitzgerald mocked himself as a Hollywood hack through the character of Pat Hobby in a sequence of 17 short stories, later collected as “The Pat Hobby Stories” which garnered many positive reviews. The Pat Hobby Stories were published in The Esquire and appeared from January 1940 to July 1941.
Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since his college days, and became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking, leaving him in poor health by the late 1930s.Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks in the late 1930s. After the first, in Schwab’s Drug Store, he was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion. He moved in with Sheilah Graham, who lived in Hollywood on North Hayworth Avenue, one block east of Fitzgerald’s apartment on North Laurel Avenue. Fitzgerald had two flights of stairs to climb to his apartment; Graham’s was on the ground floor. On the night of December 20, 1940, Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham attended the premiere of This Thing Called Love starring Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas. As the two were leaving the Pantages Theater, Fitzgerald experienced a dizzy spell and had trouble leaving the theater; and The following day, as Fitzgerald jumped from his armchair, grabbed the mantelpiece, gasped and fall to the floor. Upon entering the apartment to assist Fitzgerald, it was found that he had died of a heart attack. His body was moved to the Pierce Brothers Mortuary. Fitzgerald died at age 44, before he could complete The Love of the Last Tycoon.His manuscript, which included extensive notes for the unwritten part of the novel’s story, was edited by his friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon. In 1994 the book was reissued under the original title The Love of the Last Tycoon, which is now agreed to have been Fitzgerald’s preferred title.
Fitzgerald is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age, and have inspired writers ever since the publication of The Great Gatsby which has sold millionsof copies and is a constant best seller and is required reading in many school and college classes. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his most famous), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat themes of youth and promise along with age and despair.
Fitzgerald’s work has been adapted into films many times. Tender is the Night was filmed in 1962, and made into a television miniseries in 1985. The Beautiful and Damned was filmed in 1922 and 2010. The Great Gatsby has been the basis for numerous films of the same name, spanning nearly 90 years; 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2013 adaptations. In addition, Fitzgerald’s own life from 1937 to 1940 was dramatized in 1958 in Beloved Infidel. Fitzgerald is also a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame and is also the namesake of the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the radio broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion.Fitzgerald was the first cousin once removed of Mary Surratt, hanged in 1865 for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln