(1896 - 1940)
“It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire” 

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist and short story writer, known as much for his turbulent personal life as for his depictions of the Jazz Age and the pursuit of the American Dream.  His debut novel, This Side of Paradise (1920) in which he looked at the lives and morality of the post WWI generation, was immediately successful, the 3000 copies of the original print run being sold out in just 3 days.  The novel’s success persuaded his great love, Zelda Sayre, to finally agree to marry him, and they settled down to an extravagant and hedonistic lifestyle.  His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, was published in 1922 and helped to consolidate his reputation as one of the great writers and satirists of his age.  In 1924 they travelled to France where Fitzgerald became friends with, amongst other members of “The Lost Generation”, Ernest Hemingway, who somewhat hypocritically criticized him for his excessive drinking. It was also at this time that he began writing what was to become one of the seminal works of the 20th century – The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.  However, although it was well received, the book did not achieve its iconic status as the definitive portrait of the “Roaring Twenties” and one of the greatest American novels ever written until well after Fitzgerald’s death.  For nearly 10 years after he had written The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote very little, his drinking deteriorated into alcoholism and he suffered long periods of writer’s block.  After years of painful work, his fourth novel, Tender is the Night, was finally published in 1934 to critical indifference and commercial failure, selling only thirteen thousand copies.  His dismay at the book’s lack of success led Fitzgerald into further bouts of alcoholism and depression, and in 1940, with only half of his new novel finished, he died of a heart attack, aged only 44.

Fitzgerald frequently supplemented his income by writing screenplays and short stories for popular publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire, but it is his four novels embodying the heart of the Jazz Age and the American Dream which have enchanted succeeding generations.



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