Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American fiction writer, whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. While he achieved limited success in his lifetime, he’s now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fun facts about F. Scott Fitzgerald.
1. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s.
2. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, was published posthumously.
3. Fitzgerald also authored four collections of short stories, as well as 164 short stories in magazines during his lifetime.
4. He was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota to Mollie and Edward Fitzgerald.
5. A few months before he was born, his two older sisters were born.
6. His parents moved to Buffalo in 1898 and sent him to Catholic schools, but when his father lost his job in 1908, his family moved back to Minnesota.
7. His first story was published in his school newspaper when he was 13 years old, and at 15, he was sent to New Jersey to attend a prep school.
8. He later attended Princeton University to pursue writing.
9. Fitzgerald’s first novel was published in 1920 and became a success instantly.
10. Fitzgerald fell in love with Zelda Sayre, an Alabama Supreme Court Justice’s daughter before his first novel was published. She broke off the engagement because she didn’t think that he could support her.
11. When his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published, he became an instant success. The financial success allowed him to pursue Zelda again and they became re-engaged and married.
12. Fitzgerald and Zelda had one child together, a daughter named Frances Scott Fitzgerald. She was born in 1921.
13. His second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, was published two years after the first, in 1922.
14. He moved to France in 1924, and subsequently wrote his greatest novel, The Great Gatsby. It was published in 1925.
15. The Great Gatsby was well recognized during his lifetime, but it wasn’t until after Fitzgerald’s death that the book became known as the portrait of the “Roaring Twenties” and as the greatest American novel.
16. Some believe that Jay Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire character in The Great Gatsby, is based upon a bootlegger named Max Gerlach.
17. As was common at the time, novelists wrote short stories for publication in magazines to help support them financially.
18. Fitzgerald developed a serious drinking problem after finishing The Great Gatsby. This resulted in long bouts of writer’s block, and along with his wife’s mental health issues, his career floundered.
19. In 1934, Fitzgerald’s fourth novel was published. It was titled Tender is the Night and told the story of an American psychiatrist living in France who was married to a wealthy patient. The book didn’t do well at the time but gained an audience later on. It’s considered to be a great American novel today.
20. In 1937, Fitzgerald revived his career, this time as a Hollywood writer. He met with modest success.
21. In the late 1930s, Fitzgerald had a heart attack in Schwab’s Drug Store, and was told to avoid over-exerting himself.
22. He died on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California, at the age of 44.
23. Zelda died in a fire in 1948 at the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, where she was a patient.
24. Fitzgerald didn’t win many awards during his lifetime, in spite of being one of the most influential writers of his generation.
25. In 2009, he was inducted by the U.S. State of New Jersey into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
26. His daughter, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, became a journalist and writer in her own right.
27. He left his wife in 1937 when he moved to Hollywood, where he started a romantic relationship with journalist Sheila Graham.
28. After his death, he was cremated at the St. Mary’s Cemetery at Rockville, Maryland.
29. Into the 21st century, millions of copies of The Great Gatsby and his other works have been sold, and Gatsby, a constant best-seller, is required reading in many high school and college classes.
30. He is the namesake of the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the radio broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion.