F. Scott Fitzgerald

10 Things You Might Not Know About F. Scott Fitzgerald

1.Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was named after his distant cousin, who famously wrote the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

2. Fitzgerald feared he would lose his life if deployed during World War I. In response, he frantically wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egoist. Though this book was never published, it laid the foundation for This Side of Paradise.

3. Fitzgerald was a college dropout. After his grades took a nosedive in the fall of 1917, he left the prestigious Princeton University and joined the U.S. Army. 

4. Eight days after publishing, This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald married his sweetheart, Zelda Sayre. Zelda had previously called off their engagement due to financial concerns, but with the newfound security of Paradise‘s sales, the pair quickly wed.

5. The Beautiful and Damned is largely autobiographical. The profit and success that Fitzgerald celebrated with the release of his first novel led him and Zelda down a rabbit hole of issues. They eventually left their luxurious life in the United States for what seemed to be a calmer one in the French Riviera. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. The Great Gatsby generated a meager profit for Fitzgerald and his publisher. The novel sold 21,000 copies in its first year on bookstore shelves. Today, it sells approximately 500,000 copies per year.

7. His wife, Zelda, was the descendant of prominent Confederate officials. Her great uncle, John Tyler Morgan, was a Confederate general and U.S. senator. Her grandfather, Willis Benson Machen, was a Confederate congressman. 

8. Fitzgerald and Zelda suffered great marital turmoil between the years of The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night. As a result of Zelda’s mental breakdowns and Fitzgerald’s alcoholism, the pair split up.

9. His last novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, would never be completed. Fitzgerald died only halfway through writing the manuscript in 1940. 

10. He never saw himself as successful. When discussing his former friendship with Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald remarked, “I talk with the authority of failure. Ernest with the authority of success. We could never sit across the table again.”

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