On this day, in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald became a household name to the literary community. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published and Fitzgerald was on his way to fame.
F. Scott was only 23 at the time of stardom.
Fitzgerald’s ability to see the differences in the classes and in social prestige in the States was birthed from personal struggles. He was a Princeton student, but his family’s former status was not enough to allow him to fit into the social structures of the school. (At least that is the way Fitzgerald saw things.)
He left school before he graduated to join the military. While stationed in the Army (Montgomery, Alabama) Fitzgerald fell in love with Zelda Sayre. She was the daughter of a State Supreme Court Justice. His social standings- or lack thereof- caused the romance to implode.
Fitzgerald moved to New York and vowed to win Zelda back. He became the youngest author ever published by Scribner’s. With such fame, Fitzgerald won Zelda’s heart. (Although, I think that she was after security and glamour more than heart… my personal view.)
They lived far more glamorously than his fame should have allowed, and Fitzgerald found himself deeply in debt. The couple moved to Europe. While in Europe, Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby.
Extravagance, in Europe, was not avoided…The couple found themselves more deeply in trouble.
Zelda was son institutionalized from several breakdowns. She spent the rest of her life in a sanitarium. Fitzgerald relied on alcohol to quench the trials.
Scott moved to Hollywood… a fresh start.
He was able to stop drinking and fall in love again. But a heart attack at the young age of 44. The stressors of life took a toll on Fitzgerald and much as they had his first wife.
We will never know if F. Scott Fitzgerald had six or seven more ‘Great Gatsby’ novels within him just waiting to be birthed.
Written for Reminiscing the Arts: March 26th.