An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.
One of the most acclaimed writers of the ‘lost generation’ and now considered one of the greatest American authors of the twentieth-century, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald found popularity and fame in his time as one of the foremost figures in the ‘Jazz Age’. He published four novels during his life - This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night.
Named after his cousin who was a famous lawyer - and also wrote the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner - and his sister who died two months before he was born, Scott spent his formative years in Buffalo, New York, where he had a privileged upbringing. He was sent to Catholic schools, and his talent for writing was soon noticed and encouraged by his teachers. He decided to go to Princeton in order to further his ambitions to become a writer, but prepossession with his craft overtook his coursework, and he dropped out to join the army during World War 1.
It was during the war that he met Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge, and the ‘golden girl’ of society. They married in 1920 and were soon the pre-eminent socialites of New York and Paris. Scott struck up friendships with other writers of the ‘lost generation’, including Ernest Hemingway, living on the extraordinary sales of Scott’s first novel This Side of Paradise. Unfortunately, this would be the only one of his novels to sell well enough to support the Fitzgerald’s opulent lifestyle, which provided a good deal of inspiration for his writing. The couple were soon stuck in a cycle of alcoholism, affairs, and mental health problems, which culminated with Zelda in a sanitarium and Scott’s drinking getting worse and worse.
As is often the case, since his death Fitzgerald’s novels - especially The Great Gatsby have massively increased in popularity since his death, and are now required reading for school children around the world.