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F.S. Fitzgerald (Francis Scott Fitzgerald) Biography

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(1896-1940) American writer. F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for "The Great Gatsby" and other novels of the Jazz Age. His wife, Zelda, was also a writer; and he based "Tender is the Night" on her boughts with insanity. Fitzgerald was also a chronic alcoholic.

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald Birth & Education:

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota, of Southern and Irish descent. His father was Edward Fitzgerald, and his mother was Mary (Mollie) McQuillan, the daughter of an Irish immigrant. His father was a manufacturer and salesman.

Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy, Newman School (1911-1913), and Princeton. His earliest fiction was a detective story published in the school newspaper when he was at St. Paul Academy.

Death:

F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart in the apartment of a movie columnist, Sheilah Graham, on December 21, 1940. His health had been spiraling downward with his severe alcoholism.

Marriage:

F. Scott Fitzgerald fell in love with Zelda Sayre in June 1918, when he was assigned to Camp Sheridan, in Alabama. Zelda was the youngest daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge, and they married in New York a week after the successful publication of his novel, This Side of Paradise (1920). They had one child, Frances Scott (Scottie) Fitzgerald, who was born in October 1921.

Critical Reception:

Raymond Chandler once wrote about F. Scott Fitzgerald: "He had one of the rarest qualities in all literature, and it's a great shame that the word for it has been thoroughly debased by the cosmetic racketeers, so that one is almost ashamed to use it to describe a real distinction. Nevertheless, the word is charm--charm as Keats would have used it. Who has it today? It's not a matter of pretty writing or clear style. It's a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the sort of thing you get from good string quartets."

Fitzgerald seemed to have a strange affect on the people around him. His contemporaries realized that Fitzgerald had that rare quality that would last beyond his own time, whether they saw it as magic, genius, or pure luck. Of course, Fitzgerald once wrote to his daughter that "All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath."

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