Intriguing facts about the great author revealed in David S. Brown’s new book on FSF …


Everyone knows F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is variously remembered as the “Great American Dreamer,” the author of The Great Gatsby, and the man who coined the phrase “Jazz Age.” Fitzgerald was a literary celebrity in that dubious industry’s infancy and little that he–or his wife Zelda Sayre–did was off-limits. Still, he kept a few secrets to himself. Here are some facts from my biography, Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, that you might not know:

1. Fitzgerald wrote the ‘great American novel’ in Europe. In May 1924, Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, and their two-year-old daughter, Scottie, boarded the SS Minnewaska in New York bound for Cherbourg France. Over the next several months, while in Paris, the Riviera, and Italy, Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, regarded as a quintessentially “American” story that raises serious questions about the country’s self-help mythology. The twilight mood of the novel might have been suggested by its author’s European stay. The Continent was only slowly emerging from the horrors of the First World War.

2. Fitzgerald wanted to be a poet. While at Princeton Fitzgerald wrote a number of poems. He was inspired by Keats, encouraged by his classmate John Peale Bishop, and wanted to become the American Rupert Brooke, the young British poet who died in 1915 while on his way to the landing at Gallipoli. In 1917, while in the army, Fitzgerald presumed he might meet a glorious death in battle and wished to leave behind a definitive generational statement. But he found it impossible to build upon his collegiate poems in an army atmosphere and turned instead to a novel that, after much reworking, was published in 1920 as This Side of Paradise.

See also our 2016 print issue “Maps & Legends,” with Bryant Mangum’s essay “An Affair of Youth: In Search of the Legendary Fitzgeralds.”  It’s the tale of a cocktail-fueled night searching for the original grave of American literature’s most famous pair. In our pages, you’ll find the only known published photograph of that grave.  You’ll also find a contemplation of FSF’s coding of Southern belles and modern flappers and what each kind of girl might mean to the world …


Click to read David S. Brown’s full article.

Click to read Bryant Mangum’s full article online.