FRANCIS SCOTT KEY FITZGERALD (1896–1940) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and studied for a few years at Princeton University before joining the Army in 1917. While stationed near Montgomery, Alabama, he met and fell in love with ‘golden girl’ Zelda Sayre, who became his wife and literary inspiration (to the point where he plagiarized passages from her diaries and letters for his own work). The couple and their only child lived lavishly and moved often, from New York to Long Island, then Europe and Hollywood. Their tumultuous, alcohol-driven relationship, and Zelda’s mental deterioration (she was diagnosed with schizophrenia) informed and influenced Fitzgerald’s writing.
Over the course of his career he published five novels: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night and the unfinished The Last Tycoon; six volumes of short stories; and The Crack-Up, a selection of autobiographical pieces. His forays into theatre and film writing proved less lucrative, and as he struggled to pay for Zelda’s care in various mental health facilities, his career deteriorated. Estranged from Zelda, bankrupt and in failing health himself, he died of a heart attack in Hollywood, CA in 1940.