Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, 1896 - 1940

portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Portrait by Gordon Bryant (1921)

Born: 24 September 1896, St. Paul, Minnesota
Died: 21 December 1940, Hollywood, California

Born into an upper middle class Irish Catholic family, Fitzgerald was named after a distant cousin, Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner. The family lived in upstate New York, first Syracuse and then Buffalo where he attended Nardin Academy until his father was fired at Proctor and Gamble. The family returned to St Paul and Scott attended St Paul Academy. His first published work was a detective story that appeared in the St Paul Academy school paper when he was thirteen. He prepped at Newman School at Hackensack, New Jersey before entering Princeton in 1913. He devoted himself overmuch to drama and writing and was placed on academic suspension, he left to enlist in the US Army but the war ended before his training was completed, but not before becoming engaged to Zelda Sayre while assigned to Fort Sheridan in Alabama. Before the war ended, specifically fearing he wouldn't leave a mark in the world if he died on the battlefield, he wrote his first novel. After discharge he moved to New York and worked in advertising and wrote short stories, but his income was such that Zelda broke off the engagement. He moved back to St Paul to rework his novel as This Side of Paradise, which became one of the top selling titles of the year and convinced Zelda to marry him after all. It was the only one of his novels that sold well enough to support his lifestyle so, like most novelists of the time, he also wrote short stories for magazines. He was a talented writer who gave us five novels and 160 short stories, but he was even better at drinking and partying. An alcoholic since college, he had recurring bouts with tuberculosis, two heart attacks in 1940, the second of which was immediately fatal.

Biography from Wikipedia and University of South Carolina

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