F. Scott Fitzgerald

Leaving a Literary Legacy

Quick bio

Full Name:

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald


Author (novels, short stories, screenplays)


September 24 ,1896

Place of Birth:

St. Paul, Minnesota

Death Date:

December 21, 1940

Cause of Death:

Heart Attack

Reason for Fame:

Writing The Great Gatsby


As a young man, Fitzgerald often put his writing before his studies. After graduating from high school, he began college at Princeton to hone in on his writing abilities. At the expense of the rest of his courses, his literary work was really the only focused on, so Fitzgerald had to be put on an academic probation. As a result, he joined the army, and though he was never deployed (the war ended before he could be), he met the love of his life, Zelda Sayre.

In an effort to please his girlfriend, who wanted to be sure that he would have enough money to support them before they tied the knot, Fitzgerald moved to New York, and then back to St. Paul, to continue writing a novel he had started before he joined the military.

His first book, This Side of Paradise, made him a millionare almost overnight. A week later, he married his sweetheart Zelda and later had a child with her, a little girl who shared the name Francis Scott.

The author soon took to embracing his new lifestyle, more of a playboy and less of a serious writer. He wrote a great number of short stories and novellas (see below) to support himself and his family. In 1922, he published The Beautiful and the Damned, which helped secure his place as a serious author during the jazz age.

The Great Gatsby and Later Years

Seeking a change of pace, F. Scott Fitzgerald moved to Valescure, France, where he wrote his most famous novel: The Great Gatsby. Though well received - very well received - in his time, it was during the 1950s when the book was recognized as one of the greatest literary works of all time.

But soon after, Fitzgerald's life started to fall apart. His alcoholism became worse and his wife had to constantly be taken to mental hospitals. To try and relieve his stress, he began work on another novel, Tender is the Night, somewhat based on his own experiences with mental health issues (by way of his wife). It was a relative failure when it was published, yet is recognized as one of the best books of the 20th century.

After two more years of agonizing depression and dependence on alcohol, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. Later he began work on yet another novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, or more simply, The Last Tycoon. But before the book was completed, he died of a heart attack at the age of 44 in California

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The Great Gatsby and American Culture

The Great Gatsby influenced america in many ways. Today, Gatsby is used as a word. He's very Gatsby like, they have a very Gatsby house, it was a very Gatsby party. The book captured the era like a snapshot, recording the ups and downs of the famous jazz age. This was Fitzgerald's greatest influence on American culture
Watch video

A great video on his life and the effects he and his work had on American culture!


“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.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, on the Jazz Age

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Here's to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Connections to a Modern Day Writer

Personally, I feel like JK Rowling and F Scott Fitzgerald have many similarities. Both wrote novels that virtually everyone has heard of. Both have a book or a book series that they are known for, so that when you think of their name, the book(s) immediately come to mind. And both writers, though they wrote other works after their claim to fame, never again achieved the fame and praise that their most recognizable book.

Fun Facts!

  • He was a second cousin to Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner
  • "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past—is on Fitzgerald's grave in Rockville, Maryland.
  • He helped Ernest Hemingway get his first book published
  • In 1932, Zelda Fitzgerald wrote an autobiography called Save Me the Waltz. F. Scott FItzgerald thought she was stealing material from his upcoming novel
  • Ernest Hemingway had a secret hunch that Fitzgerald was gay
* not actual cover, covers from republished books