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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940)
was an American author of novels
stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz
Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the
twentieth century's greatest writers. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the
Generation" of the Twenties.
He finished four novels, This
Side of Paradise, The
Beautiful and Damned, Tender
Is the Night and his most
famous, the celebrated classic, The
Great Gatsby. A fifth, unfinished novel, The
Love of the Last Tycoon was
published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat
themes of youth and promise along with despair and age.
Born in St.
Paul, Minnesota to an Irish
upper middle class Roman
Catholic family, Fitzgerald was
named after his famous second cousin, three times removed, Francis
Scott Key, but
was referred to as "Scott". He was also named after his deceased sister Louise
of two sisters who died shortly before his birth. He spent 1898–1901 in Syracuse and
1903–1908 in Buffalo,
New York, where he attended
Nardin Academy. When
his father was fired at Procter
& Gamble, the family returned to Minnesota, where Fitzgerald attended St.
Paul Academy in St. Paul from
1908–1911. His first literary effort, a detective story, was published in a
school newspaper when he was 12. When he was 16, he was expelled from St.
Paul Academy for neglecting his
studies. He attended Newman School, a prep
Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1911–1912, and entered Princeton
University in 1913 as a member
of the Class of 1917. There he became friends with future critics and writers
Edmund Wilson (Class of 1916)
Peale Bishop (Class of 1917),
and wrote for the Princeton
Triangle Club. His absorption in the Triangle—a kind of musical-comedy
society—led to his submission of a novel to Charles
Scribner's Sons where the
editor praised the writing but ultimately rejected the book. He was a member
University Cottage Club, which still displays Fitzgerald's desk and
writing materials in its library. A poor student, Fitzgerald left Princeton to
enlist in the US Army during
World War I; however, the war ended shortly after Fitzgerald's enlistment.