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The Great Gatsby: The Great American Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, 1925

The Great Gatsby, 1925

This Side of Paradise, 1920

This Side of Paradise, 1920

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in 1896, St. Paul, Minnesota, to parents Edward and Molly Fitzgerald. He was named after his famous cousin, Francis Scott Key. Better known as F. Scott, Fitzgerald was an American novelist, screenwriter and, short-story writer. Throughout his life, he relied on selling his short stories to survive and pay his debts.

After a short time at Princeton University and a failed relationship, Fitzgerald dropped out of school in 1917 and joined the US Army. While he was stationed in Ashville, he met Zelda Strayer, and they were immediately mesmerized. Zelda was a pampered southern belle, but she was also unconventional and defiant. She smoked, she drank, bobbed her hair, wore flesh-colored swimsuits, so it appeared she was swimming in the nude. Zelda also realized Fitzgerald was not in a financial position to benefit her, so she broke the engagement.

Fitzgerald returned to NY to try and finish his novel while writing articles for cash. He received 120 rejections during this time and decided to return to St. Paul and finish his novel. Finally completed, he sent it to Scribner's, who accepted it, and it was published in March 1920. This Side of Paradise was an instant success, and Fitzgerald sent his mother's ring to Zelda. They were married in New 1920. Not long after, their only child, daughter Frances "Scottie" Fitzgerald, was born in 1921.

With the success of his novel, they were instant celebrities and being noticed for their unconventional ways. They were kicked out of at least two New York hotels for their partying ways. Neither was a great parent, instead of hiring nannies and servants for their daughter.

They continued to enjoy their fame and decided to go to France, believing the cost of living cheaper overseas while finishing his novel, later called The Great Gatsby. While there, both Fitzgerald and Zelda allegedly had affairs. Fitzgerald became friends with Ernest Hemmingway, whom Zelda disliked, and many arguments resulted between Fitzgerald and her husband.

Fitzgerald completed his novel and submitted it for publication in 1925. It was a novel of the Jazz Age and the American Spirit, trying to reinvent oneself and the power of money to corrupt. Unfortunately, it was not well received and reviews and considered it a 'dud." Only 25,000 copies were printed at the time.

The novel was about love, the achievement of the American Dream, and the death of Gatsby's death echoed the dream's demise.

Fitzgerald suffered from alcoholism, and Zelda was dealing with mental illness. Each of them attempting to acknowledge and deal with their demons. Fitzgerald admitted himself to Grove Park Inn in an attempt to recuperate from a slight case of TB and alcohol. While there, Fitzgerald broke his shoulder while swimming, slipped in his bath, and found the next morning on the floor. Fitzgerald felt obligated to pay for the hospital bills for Zelda's mental illness. He decided to accept an offer from MGM to write screenplays and headed to Hollywood.

Grove Park Inn had many celebrities spending time for relaxation there. Famous names such as Ford, Firestone, Edison, Helen Keller, and Margaret Mitchell.

While working in Hollywood, Fitzgerald met Shelia Graham, a well-known gossip columnist, and an affair was the news of the day. They were living together when Fitzgerald suffered a massive stroke and died on December 21, 1940. He was denied burial on the family plot because his novels were considered too risque. It took his daughter's pleas to the church to allow him to be buried on the family plot in St. Mary's Church, Rockville, Maryland.

Years later, in 1948, Zelda and eight other women were killed in a fire at Highland Metal Hospital. There were rumors the women were sedated and locked in their rooms. She is buried beside Fitzgerald on the family plot in Maryland.

Fitzgerald died believing he was a failure as a writer. He would be surprised that he did secure a place in American Literature. He would never live to see Gatsby's success, and it named The Great American Novel.

Fitzgerald seems to have lived a torturous life combined with his alcoholism, and overspending harmed his health.

Grove Park Inn

Grove Park Inn

Words of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Words of F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda  Grave Marker

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Grave Marker

Four Best Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • 1920 This Side of Paradise
  • 1922 The Beautiful and The Dammed
  • 1925 The Great Gatsby
  • 1931 Tender is the Night
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Today, The Great Gatsby has sold over 30 million copies and required reading on school campuses worldwide. It has been made into five films, a Taylor Swift song, and an opera. And as of January 2021, The Great Gatsby is now in the public domain belonging to the public, free to use, copy, or rewrite.

Amazingly, Fitzgerald's daughter, "Scottie" (1921-1986) set up a trust fund for her children to collect $500,000. each year from the royalties of Fitzgerald. In 2004 some of his works while working for MGM also sold for $475,000. Certainly, he did become rich but after his death.

Fitzgerald's childhood home, St. Paul, Minnesota was listed on the National Historic Landmarks.

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby

Sources Used

New York Times

USA Today

University of Illinois


Oxford Press



fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on February 12, 2021:

Alicia, thanks for your visit. I hope you do read the book and sad that it was only after death he reaped an American Literature prize.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 11, 2021:

I’ve never read the book that you’ve mentioned, but I have a copy in digital form. Your article has encouraged me to read it. Thanks for sharing the information about the author’s life, Fran.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on February 10, 2021:

Rosina, thanks for your visit and comments. Truly appreciated.

Rosina S Khan on February 09, 2021:

The Great American Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald has gained so much popularity and success that it is a shame the author didn't live to see it nor did he know he would become rich. Sad but interesting. Thank you for sharing, Fran.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on February 09, 2021:

I love the book, and I also love your review. It was such an enjoyable read.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on February 09, 2021:

MG, Thanks for your visit and comments. Fitzgerald does definitely deserve a place in American literature. I haven't seen the movie with Amitabh Bacchan but will check it out.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 09, 2021:

I have read the book and it's wonderful. You have written an excellent review. I have also seen two movies on the book and the latest one had the Indian star Amitabh Bacchan playing an important role.

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