"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong."

Happy birthday F. Scott Fitzgerald!

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F. Scott Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American author of novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is best known for the novel The Great Gatsby (1925), which has come to be known as the definitive novel of the Jazz Age. He and his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, became hugely popular and were known to run with some of the most prominent artists of the 1920s.

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Fitzgerald was born Francis Scott Key in Saint Paul, Minnesota to Mary and Edward Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald spent most of his childhood in Buffalo, New York (with a stint in Syracuse), where his father worked as a salesman for Procter & Gamble. He was well-loved by his parents, and was even given the opportunity by his mother to attend school at Holy Angels Convent for only half a day, and to choose which half.

In 1908, his family returned to Minnesota to live off his mother's inheritance when his father lost his job. He began to take a keen interest in literature, publishing his first piece of writing—a detective story—in the school newspaper by the time he was 13. At 15, his parents moved him to the Newman School in New Jersey.

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He decided to remain in New Jersey and attended Princeton University. There, he wrote for Nassau Literary Magazine, the Princeton Tiger humor magazine, and even wrote scripts for Princeton's Triangle Club musicals. However, when his writing caused his being put on academic probation, Fitzgerald opted to drop out and join the U.S. Army. Worried he might be killed in the World War I, he hastily wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egotist.

He was a second lieutenant in the infantry, posted in Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama. There, he met Zelda Sayre. He moved to New York City, hoping to get into advertising so that he could earn enough money to convince Zelda to marry him. He returned to St. Paul to rewrite his novel, this time titling it This Side of Paradise. Though Fitzgerald's novel had previously been rejected, it was accepted this time by the publisher Charles Scribner's Sons and was published in March of 1920. It was an instant hit and soon Fitzgerald was catapulted to celebrity-like status.

 

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Before long, Fitzgerald married Zelda. The early 1920s saw the Fitzgeralds travel frequently to Europe. Fitzgerald supported himself financially by writing short stories for magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. While in Paris, Fitzgerald met and became good friends with Ernest Hemingway. In 1924, he turned his trips to Paris into a move. The following year, he wrote what became his most famous novel to date, The Great Gatsby. The book was well-received, but didn't earn its reputation as the iconic 1920s novel until the 1950s.

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Following the success of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald began to drink even more heavily. Zelda began to experience mental health issues, and was committed to clinics on and off throughout the latter half of the 1920s. By 1931, the coupled returned to the United States for good.

In 1934, Fitzgerald published his fourth novel, Tender is the Night.

Fitzgerald then turned to Hollywood and screenwriting, with substantial financial success. He began work on his final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, but died of a heart attack before he could finish it.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 24 September 2014
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