The Great Gatsby: Biography: Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald


Biography

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. After attending the St. Paul Academy and the Newman School -- a Catholic school in New Jersey -- Fitzgerald studied at Princeton University, where he focused most of his energy on literary endeavors. Fitzgerald left Princeton in 1917 when he joined army, in which he served until his discharge in 1919. This was the year the aspiring writer began authoring short stories for magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post. In order to stay out of debt throughout his career, Fitzgerald wrote 160 pieces of short popular fiction for various widely-circulated publications. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920 when Fitzgerald was only 23 years old, and made him an
overnight celebrity. In addition, the novel positioned him as a key
spokesman for what he called the "Jazz Age" of the 1920's. One week later Scott married Zelda Sayre, his girlfriend of two years, and they moved to Paris, becoming members of the American expatriates which included Gertrude Stein and young Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, was published in 1925 to critical praise but low sales, signaling the decline of his popularity. In 1930, Zelda suffered the first of several nervous breakdowns, and spent more than a year institutionalized in a Swiss sanitarium. Despite struggling with alcoholism and his wife's relapse, Fitzgerald continued to write, producing Tender Is the Night, another commercial failure, in 1934. Drunk, in debt, and with his wife constantly in sanitariums, Fitzgerald moved alone to Hollywood in 1937, writing screenplays in order to make a living. While working on an unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at age 44 in 1940. In spite of his premature death, Fitzgerald's works detailing themes of idealistic aspiration -- most notably, The Great Gatsby -- continue to stand as testimony to one of the foremost American novelists of the early twentieth century.

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