F Scott Fitzgerald
Influence plays a major role in the lives of all artists. Whether it is a painter, musician, or author, if they hadn’t been influenced in some way, their work would be nowhere near as compelling as it is. What shines through in the work of any artist is emotion; if art was without emotion it’s pretty inevitable that it would not draw so large an audience. In fact, without emotion or influence, art would have an almost scientific feel to it. It is because of the individual influences on the artists life that we as humans are so attracted to various forms of art.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896, named after his second cousin three times removed, the author of the National Anthem. Fitzgerald’s given names indicate his parents’ pride in his father’s ancestry. His father, Edward, was from Maryland, with an allegiance to the Old South and its values. Fitzgerald’s mother, Mary McQuillan, was the daughter of an Irish immigrant who became wealthy as a wholesale grocer in St. Paul. They were both Catholics.
Edward Fitzgerald failed as a manufacturer of wicker furniture in St. Paul, and he became a salesman for Procter & Gamble in upstate New York. After he was dismissed in 1908, when his son was twelve, the family returned to St. Paul and lived comfortably on Mollie Fitzgerald’s inheritance. Fitzgerald attended the St. Paul Academy; his first writing to appear in print was a detective story in the school newspaper when he was thirteen.
During 1911-1913 he attended the Newman School, a Catholic prep school in New Jersey, where he met Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged his ambitions for personal distinction and achievement. As a member of the Princeton Class of 1917, Fitzgerald neglected his studies for his literary apprenticeship. He wrote the scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musicals and was a contributor to the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine. His college friends included Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop. On academic probation and unlikely to graduate, Fitzgerald joined the army in 1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. Convinced that he would die in the war, he rapidly wrote a novel, “The Romantic Egotist”; the letter of rejection from Charles Scribner’s Sons praised the novel’s originality and asked tha…
…contract was renewed for a year at $1,250 a week. This $91,000 from MGM was a great deal of money during the late Depression years when a new Chevrolet coupe cost $619; although Fitzgerald paid off most of his debts, he was unable to save. His trips East to visit Zelda were disastrous. In California Fitzgerald fell in love with movie columnist Sheilah Graham. Their relationship endured despite his benders. After MGM dropped his option at the end of 1938, Fitzgerald worked as a freelance script writer and wrote short-short stories for Esquire. He began his Hollywood novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939 and had written more than half of a working draft when he died of a heart attack in Graham’s apartment on December 21, 1940. Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire in Highland Hospital in 1948.
F. Scott Fitzgerald died thinking of himself as a failure. The obituaries were condescending, and he seemed destined for no recognition. The first phase of the Fitzgerald revival occurred between 1945 and 1950. By 1960 he had achieved a place among America’s writers: The Great Gatsby, a work that seriously examines the theme of aspiration in an American setting, is a classic American novel.