Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
Students are often directed to the novels and short stories of F Scott Fitzgerald (Jazz Age author and diarist of the American dream ethos)in order to study American society and the culture of wealth generally. They are often required to research his biography but research sources can be confusing.
A reputable encyclopaedia site with an esteemed publication history would be a good source for an F. Scott Fitzgerald writer bio. However, online encyclopaedias with a more recent history can make useful first stops, but sometimes sources may not be verified, particularly in the case of sites which are open to general editing by the public (or indeed, 'experts' in the field whose opinions/findings may still be controversial.)
A good bet is usually a foundation, society or organisation which has accuracy and true representation of an author's life work as its mission.
For this F. Scott Fitzgerald bio, I have taken The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society as an example. Whilst it is impossible to guarantee that any publication is one hundred per cent perfect, students can usually trust an organisation like this (one which publicly honours its esteemed academic contributors on its high profile pages and which displays affiliates from respected centres of learning) – to be reputable.
For a high-school student bio of F Scott Fitzgerald, often all that is required is accurate research of the basic facts. Later in their literature education, students will be asked to provide researched opinions, quotes, analysis of texts, essays on narrative, book reports on plot or discussions on characterisation, the Jazz Age or the American Dream. The bio is not the place for this, and often students require something brief.
Using the excellent The F Scott Fitzgerald Society site as a source, I have compiled such a brief guide.
Other sources consulted included Wikipedia and Encarta, however The F Scott Fitzgerald Society proved the most useful. To add a personal touch to a writer bio, sometimes it is an excellent plan to include personal responses to the writer's own work about himself, often published as letters, essays and memoirs. In the case of F Scott Fitzgerald, a copy of his musings in 'The Crack Up' is a great place to start.
(Please note, any differences in Grades results might well be influenced by how much extra detail students try to add to their author bio - it may make the difference between scraping through on a 'C' or blazing away with an 'A' - teachers take a dim view of unimaginative transcription!)
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
Place Of Birth:
St Paul, Minnesota
Date Of Birth:
September 24 1896
Edward Fitzgerald, from the US deep South, wicker furniture manufacturer and later Procter and Gamble salesman, New York. Catholic.
Mary McQuillan - came from Irish immigrant grocery business family. Catholic
Spent in New York.
1908 - Family moved back to St Pauls supported by Mary Fitzgerald's small inheritance.
St Paul Academy. First writings published in school publication.
Attended Newman Catholic prep School in New Jersey
Literary talent Championed by Fr Fay
Concentrated most academic efforts on literary projects such as musicals, humour magazines and literary journals.
1917 Joined the army, commissioned as infantry second lieutenant
Wrote 'The Romantic Egotist' which was rejected twice.
Moved to seek work in New York in order to marry glamorous socialite Zelda Sayre, who had broken off their engagement due to lack of funds.
Quit advertising job in order to rewrite ‘This Side Of Paradise’ which was accepted by Scribners.
Started writing popular fiction short stories for magazines like the Saturday Evening Post
‘This Side Of Paradise’ published on March 26th.
Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre and both became celebrities.
‘The Beautiful And The Damned’ published later that year. The Fitzgeralds settled in New York.
Daughter born, Frances
The couple moved to Great Neck Long Island in anticipation of Broadway success.
Fitzgerald's play fails on stage and he writes his way out of debt with short stories. The couple's drinking and arguments increase.
The Fitzgeralds take a long trip to France. F Scott writes The Great Gatsby while there.
It is published and enjoys more stage success than book sales.
Zelda became attracted to a French aviator.
The family moved to Delaware, vacationing again in France.
Zelda's ballet dance training put a strain on her health.
Fitzgerald wrote more short stories to pay for Zelda’s mental breakdown treatment in Switzerland.
The Fitzgeralds movedto Montgomery, and the author tried a second attempt at Hollywood writing.
Zelda Fitzgerald began a life-long pattern of admissions to psychiatric hospitals and wrote her own autobiography, ’Save Me The Waltz’, which touched on important themes to be represented in Fitzgerald's own next novel.
‘Tender Is The Night’ published, but failed commercially. Fitzgerald rented a house in Baltimore.
Fitzgerald enters challenging period of his life nicknamed 'The Crack-up' where his drinking increases and he lives out of hotels in Carolina where Zelda is again a mental illness patient. His daughter Frances is sent away to boarding school and to be supervised by the Ober family. Fitzgerald continues to encourage and educate her by letter.
Fitzgerald receives screenwriting work from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood. He moves there without his family.
He receives only one credit for his work but his revenue is increased substantially.
He falls in love with columnist Stella Graham.
Fitzgerald’s contract option is not renewed by MGM and he writes short stories again, this time for Esquire. He begins his last unfinished novel 'The Love of the Last Tycoon.'
December 21st 1940
Fitzgerald dies of a heart attack at Stella Graham's apartment, having only drafted half of his last novel.
Zelda Fitzgerald dies in a fire at Highland Hospital
Biography of F Scott Fitzgerald, The F Scott Fitzgerald Society All Rights reserved Copyright (C) 1997-2008, Matthew J. Bruccoli’s “A Brief life Of Fitzgerald: A Life In letters, ”ed. Bruccoli with the assistance of Judith S. Baughman (New York: Scribners,1994.) - essay reprinted by the F Scott Fitzgerald Society, courtesy of Simon and Schuster.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Microsoft(R) Encarta (R) Online Encyclopaedia 2008 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.