When Mollie McQuillan and Edward Fitzgerald of St. Paul, Minnesota had their third child in 1896 they named him after the man who had written “The Star Spangled Banner”. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald would be known as Scott, would become one of the great American Modernist writers and would live a short tragic life.
After attending Princeton University for three years F. Scott Fitzgerald left in 1917 to enlist in the army fighting World War I. The war ended before he would see any action and being a poor student anyway, he never returned to college to get his degree. Scott headed for New York City instead.
He moved into an apartment at 1935 Lexington Avenue and found work at an advertising firm.While working in advertising, he also found time to develop his first novel “The Romantic Egoist” which was rejected by Scribner Publishing. Fitzgerald persisted and after three revisions he managed to convince the folks at Scriber to publish the book. “This Side of Paradise” was published on March 26, 1920 with a first printing of 3,000 copies. The initial printing sold out in three days. The success convinced Scott’s erratic girlfriend Zelda that he had the means to support her lavish lifestyle. The couple were married seven days later.
The 1920s proved the most influential decade of Fitzgerald’s development. The Great Gatsby, considered his masterpiece, was published in 1925. But the Roaring Twenties would also take its toll on the Fitzgerald’s as Zelda struggled with mental illness and Scott with alcoholism.
F. Scott Fitzgerald would publish only five novels during his life including one, “The Love of the Last Tycoon”, that was published as “The Last Tycoon” after his death. While writing novels was his passion, short stories for magazines such as Scribner’s and The Saturday Evening Post paid for the society lifestyle that Zelda craved.
Fitzgerald later went to Hollywood where he had limited success as a screen writer. He died in Hollywood after a heart attack in 1940. He was only 44 years old.