Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was named after the author of the United States’ National Anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”. He was born into a Catholic upper-middle class family in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 24, 1896. He was the only son of Edward Fitzgerald and Mary Mollie McQuillan. He had one sister, Annabel, born in 1901. His father Edward tried to start his own business as a manufacturer of wicker furniture in St. Paul, but it didn’t succeed. He then moved the family to Buffalo, in upstate New York where he worked for Procter and Gamble as a salesman. In 1908, he was let go by the company. He moved his family back to St. Paul and with the large inheritance that his wife Mollie received, the family was able to live comfortably.
F. Scott Fitzgerald discovered his passion about writing at an early age. While attending High School, he published some of his detective stories in the school newspapers. In September of 1913, he began his education at Princeton University. He quickly found his place with the triangle club, which puts together a musical every year. He started neglecting his classes focussing more his attention on his writing and in the production of the musical. As a result, his grades suffered and soon he dropped out of Princeton University to join the U.S. army in October of 1917. While serving in the army, he continued writing articles for magazines as well as musical lyrics. At age 21, he submitted his first novel to be published but this was quickly turned down. With perseverance and determination, he again worked on a novel called “The Romantic Egoist” and resubmitted it to be published but again it was rejected. He then stop writing books for a while and turned his attention to advertising in order to support himself.
While stationed in Alabama in 1918 near Montgomery, he met a beautiful 18 year old young woman named Zelda Sayre. He immediately fell in love with her. They were engaged in 1919 after the war ended. Unfortunately his income from advertising didn’t satisfy his bride to be. She grew tired of waiting for him to make his fortune in the field of advertising and eventually called off the engagement. She insisted that he become a successful person first before she could marry him.
F. Scott Fitzgerald decided to return to his hometown in St. Paul Minnesota where he spent the time to rewrite a novel called “This Side of the Paradise”. This would be his third attempt to have the novel published and this time it was a success. In March of 1921, the book was published and F. Scott Fitzgerald became rich and famous. He then married his sweetheart Zelda in April of 1921 soon after the publication of his novel. She became a great influence on his writing, contributing much of the facts for his novels and short stories by his quoting her and using her words as the voice for many of his female characters. The family enjoyed fame and fortune and his novels reflected much of their lifestyle, describing the privilege of being wealthy.
The Fitzgeralds decided to move to France and make a home there. They frequently travelled to Rome, Switzerland and throughout the United States. Three years after the birth of their daughter, Scott decided to write another novel called “The Great Gatsby”. This was his best known work. Their exorbitant way of living soon took its toll on the couple. They both began to drink heavily and Zelda experienced several mental breakdowns. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent most of her life in and out of the hospital and finally in 1926, she was admitted in Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina where she resided for the rest of her life.
Now desperately in debt, unable to write a novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald found work in Hollywood as a scriptwriter. In Hollywood, he fell in love with Sheilah Graham, a movie columnist. Their relationship lasted until his death at age 44 in 1940.