Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, 1896 - 1940
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.
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F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes:
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- A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big. permalink
This Side of Paradise (1920)
- A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain. permalink
Letter to his daughter Frances Scott Fitzgerald (18 November 1938)
- A stick hardened in the fire. permalink
on Ernest Hemingway in a letter to Maxwell Perkins (1930)
- A writer like me must have an utter confidence, an utter faith in his star. It's an almost mystical feeling, a feeling of nothing-can-happen-to me, nothing-can-touch-me.... I once had it. But through a series of blows, many of them my own fault, something happened to that sense of immunity and I lost my grip. permalink
- A writer like me must have an utter confidence, an utter faith in his star. It's an almost mystical feeling, a feeling of nothing-can-happen-to-me, nothing-can-harm-me, nothing-can-touch-me. permalink
- Action is character. permalink
"Notes for The Last Tycoon" (1941)
- Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero. permalink
Letter to his daughter Frances Scott Fitzgerald (24 August 1940)
- All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath. permalink
Letter to his daughter "Scottie" (Frances Scott Fitzgerald)
- All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase—"I love you." permalink
"The Offshore Pirate"
- Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. permalink
The Great Gatsby (1925)
- An idea ran back and forward in his head like a blind man, knocking over the solid furniture. permalink
- And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy. permalink
The Great Gatsby (1925)
- And lastly from that period I remember riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again. permalink
The Crack-Up (1945)
- And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. permalink
The Great Gatsby (1925)
- At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion. permalink
"The Diamond As Big As The Ritz" Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
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