1. Fitzgerald was named after this second cousin (three times removed), Francis Scott Key, who composed The Star-Spangled Banner.
2. Fitzgerald was one of three children but the only survivor; in later life he wrote: “My mother lost her other two children … I think I started then to be a writer”.
3. Fitzgerald began studying at Princeton University; however, his pre-occupation with writing eventually led to him being kicked off his course.
4. On signing up to fight in the First World War, Fitzgerald became filled with dread that his authorly ambitions would go undiscovered, he wrote his first full-length novel, The Romantic Egoist. It was rejected by Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing company, who encouraged him to submit more work in the future.
5. Much like Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald met and fell in love with wealthy Zelda Sayre. Once the war ended, Fitzgerald moved to New York with the hope of making enough money in advertising to convince Zelda to marry him.
6. Fitzgerald rewrote The Romantic Egoist and re-titled it This Side Of Paradise. It was a huge hit and the money he made from it allowed him and Zelda to marry in 1920. Their daughter Frances was born in 1921; like her father, she was a writer and journalist.
7. Fitzgerald was close friends with Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway did not approve of Zelda, considering her to be a distracting influence on Fitzgerald’s work and describing her as ‘insane’.
8. In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and made a fortune selling short stories. He also worked on film scripts for MGM, and wrote his final novel, The Last Tycoon.
9. Finally, in 1933 when his 10-year-old daughter was away at summer camp, Fitzgerald wrote her a letter, offering some fatherly wisdom on what she should (and shouldn’t) spend her time fretting about. Eighty years later, it still resonates – wise words, Fitzgerald.
“Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship…
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful intrument or am I neglecting it?”