F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Struggle for Success

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24th, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. His full name Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was taken from his second cousin on his fathers side. Fitzgerald spent a portion of his childhood in Buffalo, New York while his father worked for Procter & Gamble. In 1908 his family moved back to Minnesota after his father was fired. While attending St. Paul Academy F. Scott Fitzgerald began to explore his passion for writing and published a work of fiction in the school newspaper and the young age of 13.


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Two short years later, Fitzgerald was sent to a Catholic prep school in New Jersey called Newman School where he continued to pursue his love of writing and literature. In 1913 he graduated from Newman School and went on to attend Princeton University. This is where he decided and dedicated himself to becoming a writer. Princeton helped Fitzgerald meet future writers and critics like John Peale Bishop and Edmund Wilson, who would eventually become long time friends. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, Princeton didn’t expand Fitzgerald’s writing career other than the normal work his professors assigned him. This caused F. Scott to drop out of college and in 1917 he joined the army. Still holding on to his dreams of becoming a famous author Fitzgerald wrote a novel titled The Romantic Egotist before he reported for duty. The novel was submitted to the very famous publishing house Scribners where it was eventually rejected.

During his service, Fitzgerald was assigned to Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama as a Second Lieutenant. It was in Alabama that F. Scott Fitzgerald met the women he would spend the rest of his life with, Zelda Sayre. Fitzgerald was never deployed and in 1918 the war ended, allowing him to be discharged. Once he was discharged, Fitzgerald moved to New York City in hopes of creating a career in advertising, but this job didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped. Fitzgerald was forced to return home to his parents house, this is where he worked on his first novel while repairing car roofs to make a living. On March 26th, 1920 This Side of Paradise was published and became a huge success. The novel sold over 40,000 copies in the first year of publication.

The 1920’s was the decade where Fitzgerald thrived. F. Scott and Zelda moved to Paris and spent a lot of their time in the French Riviera with close friends. Among some of those friends was the very famous Ernest Hemingway, the two authors had a very difficult relationship with one another. Paris was a huge inspiration for Fitzgerald, especially the French Riviera. Later on he made it the backdrop to his novel Tender is the Night. Unfortunately, the success from his first novel died as time went on. Fitzgerald never saw the same success again and with the couples glamorous lifestyle their money dwindled quickly.

In 1925 The Great Gatsby was published and didn’t receive the same success that his debut novel did. The couple continued to live their glamorous lifestyle until Zelda needed immediate medical care. The following year Scott was commissioned to write a screenplay for producer John W. Constantine. The couple moved to Hollywood in order to pursue this career. During his time in Hollywood Fitzgerald began to have an affair with a women named Lois Moran, which caused Zelda a great deal of emotional heartache and distress when she found out. In 1930 Zelda was committed to a sanatorium where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. With the lack of popularity surrounding his subsequent novels, Fitzgerald was constantly dealing with financial trouble in an attempt to get Zelda the finest health care he could.  

His struggle to become successful continued the rest of his life. Nine years after publishing Gatsby, Fitzgerald published Tender is the Night, which obviously wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped. Fitzgerald’s struggles continued as he became less and less successful, driving him to contribute more to his alcoholism. Many have said that Fitzgerald struggled with alcoholism since the early 20’s. In addition to alcohol deteriorating his health Scott also suffered from tuberculosis. F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21st, 1940 at the age of 44. Leaving behind his wife, daughter, and an unfinished novel titled The Love of the Last Tycoon. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald struggled his entire life to grasp onto anything that could define who he was. Always attempting to become the next successful author, he never let his passion for writing die. Unfortunately, his search for success drove him to become an alcoholic who constantly struggled just to keep his head above water. Fitzgerald’s real success came after his death, The Great Gatsby is regarded as one of the greatest American novels to date. Many of his novels have received a new life since his death and have only gained more popularity since they were originally published. Not only has The Great Gatsby been made into multiple movies, but it has continued to gain popularity outside of high schools across the world with the success of these films. Gatsby continues and will continue to be read in schools across the United States. Fitzgerald’s name will forever live on, just as he hoped it would.