F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, was a salesman for Procter & Gamble, and the family lived in Buffalo and in Syracuse, New York. When Fitzgerald was twelve, his father lost his job, and the family moved back to St. Paul, where they lived on the inherited fortune of Fitzgerald’s mother, Mary McQuillan,
Beginning in 1911, Fitzgerald attended Newman School in Hackensack, New Jersey. His first short story was published in the school newspaper when he was thirteen. In 1913, he enrolled in Princeton University, where some of his stories were published in a literary magazine. However, his academic work was poor, and in 1917 he left Princeton without a degree. He was then commissioned as a secondlieutenant in the U.S. Army and served until February 1919, although he was not sent to fight in World War I.
Fitzgerald lived briefly in New York City, working in advertising, but then he returned to St. Paul. His passion was for writing, although many of his short stories were rejected by publishers. But his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920 and was well received by reviewers. In that same year, he married Zelda Sayre, whom he had first met in 1918. They had one daughter, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, born in 1921.
In the early 1920s, Fitzgerald was able to make a living as a writer, selling many short stories to magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. In 1922, his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, was published. Short story collections in the 1920s included Flappers and Philosophers (1921),Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), and All the Sad Young Men(1926).
In 1924, the Fitzgeraldstraveled to Europe and lived in various places there, including Paris and Rome, for two and a half years. Fitzgerald’s best-known novel, The Great Gatsby, which vividly portrayed the Jazz Age of the 1920s, was published in 1925. Despite his professional success, however, Fitzgerald’s personal life was turbulent. He lived extravagantly, sometimes beyond his means, and he also drank too much. Zelda his wife suffered from mental illness, and in the 1930s she was treated at a number of hospitals and sanatoriums.
From 1927 to the early 1930s, the Fitzgeralds divided their time between Delaware and France. Fitzgerald continued to write short stories, including “Babylon Revisited,” which was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1931, and reprinted in Taps at Reveille, his fourth collection of stories, published in 1935.
In 1934, Fitzgerald published his fourth novel, Tender Is the Night. It was well received by the critics but did not sell well. By this time Fitzgeraldwas suffering from alcoholism and depression, although he still managed to continue writing. In 1937, he worked successfully as a screenwriter in Hollywood. In 1940, he completed a screenplay for “Babylon Revisited” that he had been commissioned to write, but the film was never made. He was also working at the time on another novel, The Last Tycoon, but he died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California, before he could finish it. The Last Tycoon was published posthumously in 1941.