Francis Scott Fitzgerald was named after Francis Scott Key who wrote the national anthem who was second cousin three times removed of F. Scott Fitzgerald. This particular name was chosen because of his father's pride in his family's history and ancestry. While both of his parents being raised Catholic, his father also believed strongly in the old South's values. His mother was from the Irish descent and became wealthy being a wholesale grocer. Due to Fitzgerald's father failing to keep a stable job, in 1908, the family decided to live comfortably on the mother's inheritance. With an aspiration to write at an early age, he began to take part in his school's community. He participated in the school's newspaper and his first writing are of a detective story where he attended school at St. Paul Academy.
Being in the Princeton Class of 1917, ironically, he focused more on literary apprenticeship instead of the boring and one-minded studies that he had done. Knowing at such an early age that experience and learning overruled grades, he began to write scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musical. Getting involved in his school this way truly led to more opportunities and he gained much more experience first-hand in crafting such writings. Not only were his writings from the newspaper or musicals, he also took part and contributed in a humor magazine called the Princeton Tiger. With exploring more of the fun writing aspects such as humor and musicals, he decided to crack down solely on literary writing to add to his knowledge of being a writer. Therefore, he was part of the Nassau Literary Magazine. Contrary to his desire and passion in all of the writing extracurricular he accomplished, he was unlikely to graduate in 1917, so he went off to the military. Being the best at he is in everything, he became the second lieutenant of infantry. While in the military however, he anticipated that he was not going to last in the military, thinking he was going to die in combat, so he quickly wrote The Romantic Egotist.
Love Life and Struggles
In 1918, Fitzgerald was to be transferred to Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama. This is where he met eighteen year old Zelda Sayre, who was the youngest daughter of the Alabama Supreme Court Judge. Seeing this girl quite often gave Fitzgerald hope for love and his future success in writing novels. When he initially sent in The Romantic Egotist, Charles Scribner's Sons told him that it stayed true to his originality, yet he was told to resubmit the novel when it had been revised. After much hope that Sayre had indirectly instilled in him, he was rejected by Scribner for the second time. Aside from all of the books, he wanted to seek fortune and to marry. In 1919, he set off to New York City to do exactly that. After previously being engaged with his love Zelda, she ultimately broke the engagement since they were living off of a small salary and was quite impatient with Fitzgerald's advertisement business to kick. Contrary to this failure, in July 1919, he wrote the book This Side of Paradise and was immediately accepted by the editor Maxwell Perkins of Scribner in September. This particular book was about his traces of career aspirations and love disappointment of Amory Blaine.
In the fall and winter of 1919, he began to start his career for writing in magazines with agent Harold Ober. He then worked for a magazine company that was named The Saturday Evening Post, which was considered the best story in the market. This gave Fitzgerald a moneymaking and popular. While working in this company, he was quite often referred to as the "Post writer". Later, he went on to write The Offshore Pirate, and Bernice Bobs Her Hair. Both novels portrayed an independent woman with an aspiration for young love and a determined attitude to do so. Later, not so popular books that he wrote were that of May Day, and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz. These books were published in The Smart Set. In March 26th 1920, the publishing of This Side of Paradise at age 24 was an unanticipated overnight success. This brought Zelda back to Fitzgerald after slightly being betrayed and they both married in New York City, New York. Due to his success with This Side of Paradise, he began to live a life surrounded by young celebrities of literature while earning himself a literary reputation. Fitzgerald and Sayre move to New York City and he writes his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, which was about the dissipation of Anthony and Gloria Patch. Later he explored to write a play and came up with The Vegetable since he wanted to give off an affluent aura. In the fall of 1922, he moved to Great Neck, Long Island, to specifically be near Broadway.
Minor Problems Faced
Fitzgerald was faced with a considerable amount of debt, so he began to write short stories and sell them to slowly work his way out of his debt. Great Neck and New York were distracting for him for he was writing his third novel at that time. During this time however, his drinking began to increase and ended up being an alcoholic. He wrote sober all of the time. He was then judged as the typical irresponsible and drunkard writer. When he implemented his personal struggles in his books, critics objected to Fitzgerald's concern with love and success. He responded, "But my God! it was my material, and it was all I had to deal with." This led to another new and major theme that appeared in his writings which was mutability or loss. After all of this, he was identified with the Jazz Age. In his book, Echoes of the Jazz Age, he quotes, "It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire."
New New Beginnings
Seeking peace and comfort, he went to France in the spring of 1924. There, he wrote The Great Gatsby in the summer and fall the same year. Since at this time, Zelda was involved with the French naval aviator, their marriage was damaged. Since his new book was published, it gave the public new insight into his advanced and new writing technique. With his complex structure and controlled narrative point of view that no other author had done so beautifully as he, he began to receive praise from the public. Contrary to his praise however were the disappointing number of sales which were quite low. Picking himself back up however like he usually does, stage writing and movie rights brought Fitzgerald additional income to the family. He then wrote his fourth novel The Boy Who Killed His Mother, which was about the study of American expatriates in France. Our Type, and The World's Fair, were later published the same year. During these years, Zelda Fitzgerald became increasingly eccentric.
Back Home, Maybe Not
Distracted by the atmosphere in France, the Fitzgeralds returned to America. Specifically in Hollywood, he was offered a screen writing, but was not that successful, and was also short lived. Fitzgerald then went to Wilmington, Delaware where he rented a mansion named Ellerslie in 1927 spring. The family stayed there for two years but also had a trip to Paris in the summer of 1928. With his novel not progressing, his wife chose to become a professional dancer and started ballet. The family had returned to France in 1929, and due to Zelda's overworked ballet, it not only hurt her own health, but the marriage as well. This became severe in 1930 when she had a breakdown and was sent to Switzerland to be hospitalized. With Fitzgerald's undying love for Zelda, he stayed in nearby hotels of the Prangins clinic. Since he could not work on his novel, he started to write more short stories so he can pay for her treatment.
Working for The Saturday Evening Post, he wrote a story that peaked to $4,000 (which was in today's money, $40,000). Although this sounded like a sufficient amount of money to live off of, he was definitely not the highest paid writer during this time period. Most of his income came from working in the magazine industry where he wrote 160 total stories in his lifetime. His average salary for that time period was $25,000 which a great salary at that time since the average salary for teachers in 1920 was a mere $1,299. Ironically, Fitzgerald being the one who wrote about the effects on character failed to manage his own money and spends it as it incomes. When he returned to America once again in 1931, he also made a second trip to Hollywood, which was unsuccessful. The Fitzgeralds rented a house in Montgomery and Zelda went through a relapse and was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She spent the rest of her life hospitalized. In 1932 while being hospitalized, she wrote Save Me the Waltz, which was an autobiography. This created tension since Fitzgerald was going to publish material similar material in his work in progress. In Baltimore of La Paix, a rented house, he wrote his fourth novel Tender Is the Night. Later published in 1934, the book was a failure in the media.
In 1936-1937, the crack-up was a period of time where he was ill, drunk, and in debt. He stopped writing stories and lived in hotels near North Carolina where Zelda was hospitalized in Highland Hospital. When Scottie, his daughter, was fourteen, she did not even have a house to live in, so she was forced to go to boarding school and the Obers became her surrogate family. Since Fitzgerald found himself obligated to be somewhat concerned, he expressed it through mail and making sure she was getting the education she needed, while implementing some of his social values into her. In the summer of 1937, Fitzgerald went on his third trip to Hollywood, but this time, alone. Third time was his luck since he was contracted $1,000 a week at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer screenwriting for six months. There he wrote Three Comrades 193. After his contract had been renewed for a year, he was making $1,250 a week for a year. This $91,000 from working this company was a massive amount of money considering that it was a time of depression and a new Chevrolet coupe costed around $619. He paid off his debts which were a step in the right direction, but he could not save. He made frequent trips to the East coast but in California, he fell in love with Sheilah Graham. After his contract had ended, he went on to be a freelance script and short story writer. His first Hollywood novel began in 1939 by the name of The Love of the Last Tycoon. Due to a heart attack, he passed away in Graham's apartment on December 21st, 1940. After only 8 years, Zelda was burned by a fire in Highland Hospital. F. Scott Fitzgerald died feeling like a failure. The Great Gatsby was a work that closely explored aspiration in the 1920's setting and defined the classic American novel.
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