Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, an author well known for his short stories and novels, was born on September 24th, 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota to an upper middle class family. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers American soil has produced in the 20th century.
Being from a practicing Catholic family, Scott started his education from Catholic schools in 1903. Since early age Scott developed a reputation of being a boy with unusual aptitude and keen interest in literature. Young Scott’s first publication The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage was a detective story issued in school’s newspaper at the age of 13. In 1913 Scott was enrolled in Princeton University where his love for theater and writing really came to the fore. He wrote many short stories for Princeton Tiger, a college humor magazine published by Princeton University and scripts for Princeton Triangle Club, a musical comedy society. His association with Triangle Club provided him with an opportunity to submit his first novel, The Romantic Egoist to Charles Scribner’s Sons a renowned publisher and editor of his time. Charles though praised the writing yet rejected the book. Although, it proved to be a great success when finally published after three revisions as This Side of Paradise. In 1917 Fitzgerald left university to join army during World War I. However; war ended soon after his acceptance in army. In 1919 Scott moved to New York City after his discharge from the army.
1920’s was the most influential decade of Scott’s life. He got married with his ex-fiancée Zelda in 1920. They had a daughter Frances Scott in 1922. His masterpiece novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ was published in 1925. Scott had a number of excursions to Paris and developed close relations with many members of American community there. He also established acquaintance with Ernest Hemingway an American author and journalist. However this friendship remained shadowed mostly. The sore point of this friendship was that Hemingway never approved selling of Scott’s stories and novels to Hollywood studios.
Many of Scott’s short stories are autobiographical reflection to his and Zelda’s relation. His first collection of short stories ‘Flappers and Philosophers’ was published in 1920 followed by his second collection, ‘Tales of the Jazz Age’ in 1922. His second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, also adapted to the screen, was published the same year. By the end of 20’s Scott had published three novels and had already begun his fourth one but was sidetracked by financial difficulties courtesy of his lavish life style. These crises necessitated his writing commercial short stories. This book was finally published in 1934 as Tender is the Night. Critics had mixed opinion about the novel.
In the mid of 1930s, forced by his financial condition, Scott found himself working on commercial short stories and scripts for Hollywood. This gave him basis for his fifth and final novel which was published posthumously. Scott died before he could complete this novel and left behind extensive notes for the unwritten part. This manuscript was edited by his friend Edmund Wilson and in 1941 the book once started as The love of the Last Tycoon was published as The Last Tycoon.
On 21st December 1940 Fitzgerald died of a massive heart attack. His work has inspired writers ever since he was first published. T.S Eliot, one of the most important and admired poet of 20th century, wrote in his letter to Fitzgerald upon the publication of The Great Gatsby:
“It seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James“