The F Scott Fitzgerald Timeline: Key Moments in the Life of the Great American Author

The F Scott Fitzgerald Timeline: Key Moments in the Life of the Great American Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most important figures in American literature, and the timeline of his life is a fascinating subject for study. Throughout his career, Fitzgerald wrote many iconic works and experienced both success and struggles. This article will compare key moments in Fitzgerald’s life to the historical events of his time, providing insightful references about the man behind the words.

In the spring of 1919, Fitzgerald was enlisted in the United States Army and stationed at Camp Sheridan. This experience greatly influenced his writing and formed the basis for his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” published in 1920. The novel was an immediate success and marked the beginning of Fitzgerald’s literary career. In 1924, he published “The Great Gatsby,” which is often considered his greatest work and a classic of American literature.

Fitzgerald’s writing often explored themes of self-analysis, the destruction of the American dream, and the Jazz Age. His essays, such as “Myrtle’s Afternoon,” “Winter Dreams,” and “The Crack-Up,” provided a critical look at the society of the time. Fitzgerald also had a fascination with wealth and the lives of the wealthy, which is evident throughout his works.

1930-1932 marked a period of difficulty for Fitzgerald. He struggled to achieve the same level of success as his earlier works, and his personal life was also in turmoil. During this time, he wrote the novel “Tender Is the Night,” which is based on his own experiences and reflections on his failing marriage.

Despite these hardships, Fitzgerald continued to write, publishing various short stories and essays throughout the 1930s. In 1934, he released his second collection of short stories, “Taps at Reveille.” However, his literary output declined in the years that followed, and he faced financial difficulties.

From 1936 to 1939, Fitzgerald worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Although he had some success in this new medium, it did not bring him the same level of fulfillment as his literary career. Fitzgerald’s health began to deteriorate, and he tragically passed away in 1940 at the age of 44.

The Early Years: Fitzgerald’s Childhood and Education

From a young age, Fitzgerald showed a talent for writing and storytelling. He wrote his first novel at the age of 13, titled “The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage.” The novel was never published, but it showcased Fitzgerald’s ambition and early interest in writing.

Fitzgerald attended the St. Paul Academy and then went on to enroll at the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic prep school in New Jersey. Despite his academic achievements, Fitzgerald’s family financial situation prevented him from attending college. Instead, he enrolled at Princeton University in 1913 but was forced to leave due to poor academic performance.

After leaving Princeton, Fitzgerald joined the army and was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama. While stationed there, he met Zelda Sayre, a beautiful and charismatic Southern belle. The two fell in love and were married in 1920.

Throughout the early years of their marriage, Fitzgerald worked as an advertising copywriter and struggled to make a name for himself as a writer. However, his breakthrough came in 1920 when his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” was published. The novel was a success and established Fitzgerald as a leading voice of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s.

In 1924, Fitzgerald achieved even greater success with the publication of his masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby.” The novel is often considered one of the greatest American novels and has become a staple of high school English literature classes. The character of Jay Gatsby, with his lavish parties and obsession with Daisy Buchanan, is based on Fitzgerald’s own experiences and observations of the wealthy elite.

Despite his success as a writer, Fitzgerald struggled with alcoholism and depression throughout his life. He and Zelda’s tumultuous relationship also contributed to his personal struggles. Fitzgerald’s later years were marked by financial problems and a decline in his literary output.

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Throughout the 1930s, Fitzgerald worked on various projects, including writing Hollywood screenplays and short stories. He also attempted to write a novel based on his experiences living in France, but the project was never completed. In 1940–41, Fitzgerald worked as a consultant for a movie studio but disliked the role and longed to focus on his writing.

Fitzgerald passed away on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44. Despite his relatively short life, he left behind a lasting literary legacy and is remembered as one of the great American authors.

Key MomentsDescription
1896F. Scott Fitzgerald is born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
1913–18Fitzgerald attends the St. Paul Academy and the Newman School.
1919Fitzgerald meets Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama, and they fall in love.
1920Fitzgerald’s first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” is published.
1922Fitzgerald’s short story collection, “Tales of the Jazz Age,” is published.
1924Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby,” is published.
1930–32Fitzgerald works on various Hollywood screenplays and short stories.
1936–39Fitzgerald attempts to write a novel based on his experiences living in France.
1940–41Fitzgerald works as a consultant for a movie studio.

From Minnesota to Princeton: Influences and Ambitions

During his time at St. Paul Academy, Fitzgerald developed a keen interest in literature and writing. He became friends with John Cobb, and they would write plays together, often drawing inspiration from their own lives. Fitzgerald further honed his writing skills by submitting essays and short stories to various publications. In 1911–13, he even took up a job in a cemetery, where he would sometimes jot down ideas for his future works.

In 1913, Fitzgerald enrolled in Princeton University, where he studied English literature and continued writing. It was during this time that he began to establish a reputation as an avid drinker and partier. His essay titled “The Spurious Mice at Princeton” was published in the Nassau Literary Magazine in 1914. This essay, along with other satirical pieces he wrote during his time at Princeton, showcased his wit and sharp social criticism.

1917Fitzgerald left Princeton without obtaining a degree and joined the U.S. Army, hoping to fight in World War I.
1918While stationed in Alabama, Fitzgerald fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the daughter of a local judge.
1920His first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” was published, making him an overnight literary sensation.
1922The Fitzgeralds moved to Long Island, where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Beautiful and Damned” and started work on “The Great Gatsby.”
1924Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, suffered a breakdown and was admitted to a mental institution, which heavily affected his writing.
1925“The Great Gatsby” was published, but it received mixed reviews and was not a commercial success during Fitzgerald’s lifetime.

Throughout his life, Fitzgerald’s writing often reflected the social and cultural changes taking place in America. His novels, such as “The Great Gatsby,” provide a critical analysis of the Roaring Twenties and the pursuit of the American Dream. In contrast, his short stories, like “Winter Dreams” and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” depict the struggles and ambitions of young individuals trying to navigate a rapidly changing world.

Fitzgerald’s works also explore the themes of wealth, love, and the destructive nature of materialism. Characters like Jay Gatsby and the Buchanans in “The Great Gatsby” serve as witnesses to the excessive and often hollow lifestyles led by the affluent. Fitzgerald’s writing captures the essence of the Jazz Age, with its extravagance and underlying tensions.

Despite the challenges and setbacks he faced, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work continues to be studied and celebrated today, cementing his status as one of the great American authors of the 20th century.

The Jazz Age: Fitzgerald’s Rise to Fame

1. Young Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He showed a passion for writing from a young age and achieved academic success throughout his studies. Fitzgerald attended Princeton University and became known for his involvement in various social activities.

2. A Second Chance at Love

While at Princeton, Fitzgerald met and fell in love with a wealthy socialite named Ginevra King. Their relationship would provide inspiration for many of his characters and stories in the years to come. However, Fitzgerald’s pursuit of success often overshadowed his personal life.

3. The Great Gatsby and The Jazz Age

In 1920, Fitzgerald published his second novel, “This Side of Paradise,” which became a bestseller and established his reputation as a writer. However, it was his masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby,” published in 1925, that would solidify his place in literary history. The novel captures the essence of the Jazz Age, with its themes of decadence, wealth, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

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4. The Decline and Struggles

Despite his initial success, Fitzgerald faced personal and professional challenges in the years that followed. The Great Depression hit hard, and his heavy drinking and deteriorating mental health took a toll on his writing. Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, experienced financial difficulties and were unable to maintain their extravagant lifestyle.

5. Legacy and Literary Impact

Despite the challenges he faced, Fitzgerald’s work continues to resonate with readers today. His novels and short stories offer a glimpse into the glamorous and destructive aspects of the Jazz Age, as well as timeless themes of love, ambition, and the human condition. Fitzgerald’s storytelling and vivid characters have made an enduring impact on American literature.

The Great Gatsby: Iconic Novel and Cultural Impact

The novel revolves around Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who is infatuated with Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s wealthy cousin. Gatsby throws lavish parties at his mansion hoping to catch Daisy’s attention and win her back. Set in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on Long Island, the book explores themes of love, wealth, and the corruption of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s vivid descriptions and poetic writing style bring the 1920s to life, painting a picture of a decadent era marked by excessive partying, jazz music, and flapper culture. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock becomes a symbolic representation of Gatsby’s unreachable dreams and desires.

The Great Gatsby has been widely studied and analyzed, becoming a staple in literature classrooms and an inspiration for essays, research papers, and scholarly discussions. The book has been adapted into several successful films, the most recent being in 2013, further solidifying its place in popular culture.

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald introduces readers to a cast of intriguing characters set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age. The glamorous yet unhappy Buchanan couple, the mysterious and enigmatic Gatsby himself, and the tragic figure of George Wilson, all play important roles in the story’s unfolding.

The Great Gatsby stands as a witness to the social history of the 1920s, providing a glimpse into the excesses and tragedies of an era that emerged from the trauma of war. Fitzgerald’s work captures the spirit of the time and presents a cautionary tale about the dangers of pursuing wealth and status at the expense of genuine human connections.

Love and Loss: Fitzgerald’s Relationship with Zelda

In 1919, Fitzgerald met Zelda while he was stationed in Alabama as a young officer in the army. They quickly fell in love and got engaged. However, their relationship faced many obstacles, including Zelda’s parents’ disapproval of Fitzgerald’s lack of financial stability.

Despite the challenges, Fitzgerald was determined to win Zelda’s heart and prove himself worthy of her. In 1920, he published his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” which achieved great success. The novel’s main character, Amory Blaine, is said to be based on Fitzgerald himself and his desires to achieve wealth and social status.

The Fitzgeralds got married in April 1920, and they embarked on a life of glamour and excess. They became the epitome of the Jazz Age, attending extravagant parties and living a lavish lifestyle. However, their excessive drinking and partying took a toll on their relationship.

In the mid-1920s, Fitzgerald wrote his most famous novel, “The Great Gatsby,” which is often considered a masterpiece of American literature. The character of Jay Gatsby, a millionaire who throws lavish parties to win the love of Daisy Buchanan, has been associated with Fitzgerald’s own aspirations and his love for Zelda.

Throughout their marriage, Zelda struggled with mental health issues, which further strained their relationship. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930 and spent much of her life in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Fitzgerald’s attempts to support Zelda and deal with his own alcohol addiction proved challenging.

In 1934, Fitzgerald published his fourth novel, “Tender Is the Night,” which explores themes of love, wealth, and destruction. The novel drew heavily from the couple’s experiences and their deteriorating relationship. The main characters, Dick and Nicole Diver, can be seen as reflections of Fitzgerald and Zelda.

Despite the difficulties, Fitzgerald remained dedicated to Zelda until the end. When Zelda tragically died in a fire at a mental institution in 1948, Fitzgerald was devastated. He passed away a few years later, in December 1940, leaving behind a legacy of literary genius and a testament to the complexities of love and loss.

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Today, the love story between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald continues to captivate readers and scholars alike. Their turbulent relationship serves as a reminder of the fragility of love and the impact it can have on one’s art and life.

Tragic Endings: Mental Illness and Decline

In 1925, “The Great Gatsby” is published, but it does not receive the acclaim Fitzgerald had hoped for. The novel explores themes of decay and the destruction of the American Dream. The characters of Jay Gatsby, the Buchanans, and others serve as examples of the social and moral decay of the time.

From 1930–32, Fitzgerald’s mental health continues to decline. He moves to the French Riviera with Zelda, but their relationship is strained, and they both suffer from mental instability. This period is described in Chapter 7 of the Fitzgeralds’ timeline, and documents their struggles with alcoholism, self-destructive behavior, and deteriorating mental health.

In 1934, Fitzgerald publishes his second novel, “Tender Is the Night,” which is based partially on his experiences in the Riviera. The novel explores themes of mental illness and the breakdown of relationships. It is met with mixed reviews and does not achieve the same level of success as “The Great Gatsby.”

Throughout the 1940–41 period, Fitzgerald’s mental health continues to worsen. He is unable to find steady work and his alcoholism becomes increasingly problematic. He seeks help from various doctors and witnesses periods of hospitalization. His writing becomes sporadic, and he struggles to complete any significant works during this time.

In contrast to the earlier years of his career, Fitzgerald’s later years are marked by decay and tragedy. He wrote extensively about the decline of the American Dream and society, and his own life seemed to mirror these themes. Fitzgerald’s tragic endings serve as a cautionary guide to the destructive consequences of excess and unchecked ambition.

Hollywood and Writing: Fitzgerald’s Career in Film

In 1920, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood with dreams of achieving success in the film industry. He was hired by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation as a screenwriter, but his experience was largely unsuccessful. He struggled to adapt to the demands of writing for the screen, and many of his scripts went unproduced.

Despite his difficulties in Hollywood, Fitzgerald’s fascination with the industry remained. In his novel “The Great Gatsby,” he portrays the extravagant parties and lavish lifestyles of the wealthy as a critique of the shallow values of the era. The character of Jay Gatsby, with his wealth and grandeur, can be seen as Fitzgerald’s commentary on the allure and emptiness of the Hollywood dream.

In contrast to his fictional portrayals of Hollywood, Fitzgerald’s own experiences in the film industry were fraught with frustration and disappointment. He struggled to find his voice as a screenwriter and often clashed with studio executives over changes to his scripts. Despite his struggles, Fitzgerald continued to write essays and articles about the film industry, offering his unique insights and observations.

During the 1930s, Fitzgerald’s career began to decline, and he turned to alcohol as a means of escape. His alcoholism further strained his relationship with the film industry, and he found it difficult to secure work. However, he did have some success during this period with his short stories and essays, in which he explored themes of decay and the loss of the American dream.

In 1937, Fitzgerald published “The Crack-Up,” a series of autobiographical essays that reflected on his own decline and disillusionment. These essays provide a poignant and introspective look at the toll that Hollywood took on his career and personal life.

Despite his struggles in Hollywood, Fitzgerald’s impact on the film industry cannot be overlooked. His novel “The Great Gatsby” has been adapted into multiple films, with the most recent version released in 2013. These adaptations continue to bring Fitzgerald’s timeless characters and themes to a new generation of filmgoers.


What was F Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel?

F Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel is “The Great Gatsby”.

What was the name of F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife?

F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife’s name was Zelda Fitzgerald.

Did F Scott Fitzgerald serve in World War I?

Yes, F Scott Fitzgerald served in World War I in the United States Army.

How many children did F Scott Fitzgerald have?

F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda had one daughter named Frances Scott Fitzgerald.

Where did F Scott Fitzgerald spend his final years?

F Scott Fitzgerald spent his final years living in Hollywood, California.

What were some key moments in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life?

Some key moments in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life include the publication of his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” in 1920, his marriage to Zelda Sayre in 1920, his move to France in 1924, and the publication of “The Great Gatsby” in 1925. He also struggled with alcoholism and financial difficulties throughout his life.

What was the significance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “This Side of Paradise”?

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “This Side of Paradise” was significant because it established him as a major literary figure and helped define the Jazz Age. The novel explores themes of love, success, and the disillusionment of the post-World War I generation. It made Fitzgerald a popular name and launched his career as a celebrated author.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.