Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby—his most famous—and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat themes of youth and promise along with despair and age.
The Great Gatsby has been the basis for numerous films of the same name, spanning nearly 90 years; 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and an upcoming 2013 adaptation.
Fitzgerald spent the first decade of his childhood primarily in New York. His parents, both practicing Catholics, sent Scott to two Catholic schools on the West Side of Buffalo. His years in Buffalo revealed him to be a boy of unusual intelligence.
In 1908, his father was fired from Procter & Gamble, and the family returned to Minnesota, where Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy in St. Paul from 1908–1911. When he was 13 he saw his first piece of writing appear in print: a detective story published in the school newspaper. In 1911, when Fitzgerald was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic prep school inHackensack, New Jersey. There he met Father Sigourney Fay, who noticed his incipient talent with the written word and encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.
After graduating from the Newman School in 1913, Fitzgerald decided to stay in New Jersey to continue his artistic development at Princeton University. At Princeton, he firmly dedicated himself to honing his craft as a writer.
Paris in the 1920s proved the most influential decade of Fitzgerald's development. The Great Gatsby, considered his masterpiece, was published in 1925. Fitzgerald made several excursions to Europe, mostly Paris and the French Riviera, and became friends with many members of the American expatriate community in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway.Fitzgerald’s friendship with Hemingway was quite vigorous, as many of Fitzgerald’s relationships would prove to be. Hemingway did not get on well with Zelda. In addition to describing her as "insane" he claimed that she “encouraged her husband to drink so as to distract Scott from his work on his novel," the other work being the short stories he sold to magazines. As did most professional authors at the time, Fitzgerald supplemented his income by writing short stories for such magazines asThe Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and Esquire, and sold his stories and novels to Hollywood studios. This “whoring”, as Fitzgerald and, subsequently, Hemingway called these sales, was a sore point in the authors’ friendship. Fitzgerald claimed that he would first write his stories in an authentic manner but then put in “twists that made them into saleable magazine stories.” Fitzgerald wrote frequently for The Saturday Evening Post. This issue from May 1, 1920, containing the short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair", was the first with Fitzgerald's name on the cover.
Although Fitzgerald's passion lay in writing novels, only his first novel sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and his wife Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. Because of this lifestyle, as well as the bills from Zelda's medical care when they came, Fitzgerald was constantly in financial trouble and often required loans from his literary agent.
Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1920s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, and by the schizophrenia that struck Zelda in 1930. Her emotional health remained fragile for the rest of her life. In 1932, she was hospitalized in Baltimore, Maryland. Fitzgerald rented the "La Paix" estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients. The book went through many versions, the first of which was to be a story of matricide. Some critics have seen the book as a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel.
Although he reportedly found movie work degrading, Fitzgerald was once again in dire financial straits, and spent the second half of the 1930s in Hollywood, working on commercial short stories, scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (including some unfilmed work on Gone with the Wind), and his fifth and final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon. Published posthumously as The Last Tycoon.
Fitzgerald died at age 44, before he could complete The Love of the Last Tycoon. His manuscript, which included extensive notes for the unwritten part of the novel's story, was edited by his friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon.
• This Side of Paradise (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920)
• The Beautiful and Damned (New York: Scribners, 1922)
• The Great Gatsby (New York: Scribners, 1925)
• Tender Is the Night (New York: Scribners, 1934)
• The Love of the Last Tycoon – originally The Last Tycoon – (New York: Scribners, published posthumously, 1941)
Short story collections
• Flappers and Philosophers (New York: Scribners, 1921)
• Tales of the Jazz Age (New York: Scribners, 1922)
• All the Sad Young Men (New York: Scribners, 1926)
• Taps at Reveille (New York: Scribners, 1935)
• Afternoon of an Author (New York: Scribners, 1957)
• Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (New York: Scribners, 1960)
• The Pat Hobby Stories (New York: Scribners, 1962)
• The Basil and Josephine Stories (New York: Scribners, 1973)
• The Price Was High: Fifty Uncollected Stories (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979)
• The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Scribners, 1989)
Notable short stories
• "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" (1920) (in Flappers and Philosophers)
• "Head and Shoulders" (1920)) (in Flappers and Philosophers)
• "The Ice Palace" (1920)) (in Flappers and Philosophers and Babylon Revisited and Other Stories)
• "The Offshore Pirate" (1920) (in Flappers and Philosophers)
• "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (1921) (in Tales of the Jazz Age)
• "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" (1922) (in Tales of the Jazz Age)
• "Winter Dreams" (1922) (in All the Sad Young Men)
• "The Baby Party" (1925) (in All the Sad Young Men)
• "The Freshest Boy" (1928) (in Taps at Reveille)
• "The Bridal Party" (1930)
• "A New Leaf" (1931)
• "Babylon Revisited" (1931) (in Babylon Revisited and Other Stories)
• "Crazy Sunday" (1932) (in Babylon Revisited and Other Stories)